20 Iconic Movie Scenes That Nearly Killed Their Stars

bask to the future

Making films is inherently a dangerous job: you’re surrounded by thousands of watts of electricity, lots of wires, and in the case of many films, special effects. You’re also putting your life in the hands of strangers who might not even speak the same language as you if you’re relegated to Direct-to-DVD movies, and if you’re looking for that extra profile boost, you probably insist on doing “all” of your own stunts.

Many actors, like Meryl Streep will probably never encounter a near-death experience on set, but if you’re Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, maybe it’s a good idea to just be that little bit more aware of your surroundings, because there’s a good chance any number of on-set things could cause you harm.

And judging by past incidences, real threats to life can and do happen.

1. Michael J. Fox: Back to the Future Part 3

You know the brilliant bit in “Back to the Future 3” where Marty is hanging with a noose around his neck, only to be saved by Doc? He really sold the moment, didn’t he?

There’s a good reason for that. If you think it was only Fox’ acting skill, you are wrong.

That scene almost killed the actor, who announced in his autobiography that the first couple of takes he stood on a box for the stunt, seeing as his whole body wasn’t going to be shown, but it just didn’t look realistic enough and he offered to do it without a box.

Dangerously, this being the 7th take meant that Fox was getting tired and miscalculated the timing of his hand, which was meant to go between the noose and his neck, and as a result, he passed out for around 30 seconds.

According to Fox, “it was a full 30 seconds before anyone noticed. Thankfully Bob Zemeckis, a fan of mine though he was, realized that I wasn’t that good of an actor”.

The shooting was halted for the day and Fox was allowed to recover from this incident, presumably while seriously reconsidering his commitment to using stunt doubles.

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  • John TestMember

    Lucky for Stallone it was Dolph Lundgren and not Chuck Norris.

    • Richard Knob

      Chuckey is a dink!

  • Eric J. Schultz

    Lundgren was a world class kick boxer at the time. Stallone was dumb to tell him to give him his best shot.

    • G L

      Not to mention he was in terrific shape, and 6’5″ to Stallone’s 5’9″.

  • maxentropy

    Chan wasn’t electrocuted. That is a fatal condition. Chan was shocked.
    Divers don’t breathe straight oxygen, it’s poisonous below 1ATM. They breathe air.
    You’re welcome.

    • Mariner

      Electrocution is not necessarily fatal, and pure oxygen can be toxic at any elevated pressure. Your welcome.

      • MikeO

        If electrocution is not necessarily fatal, I suppose execution isn’t either. Although surviving an execution must be very rare. btw, what’s maxentropy’s welcome?

      • Josh Josh

        *You’re *

  • aztecace

    Shouldn’t it be reacted not counteracted?

  • Jennifer Fogarty

    I can’t believe Cameron would put Harris is such danger. What a jerk. I wouldn’t work with him either. Of course, I have no desire to be a famous actress….

    • Linda Kincaid Adams

      I agree!!! In my opinion, what Cameron did…borders heavily on criminal! I wonder if he ever thought for even one minute….what the very real possibilities were?! I would NEVER trust him again!!!

  • Jennifer Fogarty

    My heart goes out to David Holmes!

  • Jennifer Fogarty

    I can’t believe Cameron would put one of his actors in such danger. I wouldn’t work with him either, but then I don’t want to be a famous actress.

    • Christine Judy

      Oh please, Cameron only cares about money.Bottom line is his only concern, it will never be about anything else.

  • Fred Thompson

    Amazingly, Harold Lloyd REGREW his right thumb and index finger…look at the promotional still in the post…

    • Bill Adams

      My understanding is that he just wore a prosthetic glove for the rest of his career.

    • Marjiscott

      Highly doubt that. Once amputated, they stay amputated. Trust me, I know.

  • Cynthia

    I believe that you forgot one. Remember “The Empire Strikes Back”. Mark Hammel was in the Bacta Tank and could have been electrocuted too. From what I understand all those wires that he was attached to could have done it. He was lucky that time.

  • Calvin

    The Abyss is allegedly “underrated”? That one film made me swear off spending $$$ at a theater for years because it was so bad. I felt like I had been ripped off by a common street thug when that movie was over.

    • Robert Slackware

      Yet the directors cut changed the entire movie and made it good.
      But I can’t remember any scene where he runs out of air? except when he is breathing water in the first place. She is the one that drowns, and I thought the dead eyes was very well done, though the electro shock was pretty pathetic. Shouldn’t he have dragged her while she held her breath TOWARDS the rig and not waste time letting her drown in the sub?

  • m a

    If I were Ed Harris, I would have beaten James Cameron wiithin an inch of his life– no jury would have convicted me.

  • surfcitysocal

    Almost? Let’s not forget Vic Morrow and two child actors who did actually die in 1982 filming a scene for the movie Twilight Zone…and director John Landis got away with it. Funny how the scene was on the last scheduled day of shooting.

  • PTieno

    We think “Police Story” is the reason there are 380 words for broken glass in Cantonese. is SeanBaby’s joke you twats. Nobody likes a joke-stealer. Make up your own shit for Christ’s sake.

  • Heather

    Regarding the Texas Chainsaw one:
    I seriously doubt the chainsaw had a chain on it, which without that it won’t cut you. I’ve been repeatedly “killed” with a real chainsaw with no chain on it for years at the haunted house I performed at. Though I have to admit getting hit with it a little too hard by the Leatherface actor the first year left me bruised. The first time it came near me I have to admit, even without a chain it terrified me. Just the sound of it that close to you is scary as hell. It can still hurt you with no chain but I wouldn’t consider it life threatening by any means.

  • Seriously

    Almost 3 minutes uh? Didn’t know Isla was a super athlete.