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.


  1. Pat

    February 3, 2015 at 11:52 am

    The Director of a movie putting the star unknowingly in real danger is the plot of about 50 movies about bastard Directors only caring about their finished product.

  2. Richard Foreman

    April 10, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Sorry to decriminalize Jame Cameron (a man people love to hate for some reason), but as I recall from being there underwater during this scene, it actually happened like this:

    Ed was going to come through a hatch at the bottom of one of Deepcore’s modules, and start swimming towards the Sub Bay, to confront the manical Michael Beihn. While Ed is a decent swimmer, he in not the best and everyone knew that he wouldn’t be able to make it. Cameron placed a stunt team diver with a spare regulator on the other side of the rock that Ed going to swim towards. Ed was supposed to swim for the rock and when he got there, the spare regulator would be offered by the stunt diver. Easy enough, right?

    Well, just before the take, Cameron could see a very tiny stream of bubbles, leaking from the stunt diver’s regulator, rising up behind the rock that concealed him. He repositioned the stunt diver up above the rock and behind some of the Deepcore wreckage. Ed was to swim to the rock and then the diver would come from above, not below, and give him the air.

    Trouble is, no one told Ed, because he was isolated inside the metal module and couldn’t hear anything. His cue to come out and start swimming was someone banging on the shell of the module with a metal rod.

    Ed swam underwater about 20 yards to the rock, getting there totally out of air, looked down for the stunt diver who wasn’t where he excepted to find him, and panicked for about two seconds until the stunt diver swam down from his hiding spot and jammed the regulator into Ed’s mouth.

    This incident has been totally exaggerated over the years. Yes, Ed had reason to be quite upset, but no, no one’s life was ever in danger and it WAS NOT done to get an on screen reaction from Ed because the cameras were 20 to 30 feet away shooting a wide master.

    That is the story – I remember it like yesterday.

    Richard Foreman
    Still Photographer on THE ABYSS

  3. Tom Hardy's Proctologist

    December 8, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    I think anyone would be able to beat him to within an inch of his life and no jury would convict them.

  4. Dang

    January 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    “While attempting to do her own stunt on one occasion, she fell over and scraped skin off her knee.” Wow, that’s a cool story.

  5. Malcolm Cox

    February 24, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Rocky 4 is still the greatest boxing movie ever. And the Drago fight is the best fight – real or otherwise – in history.

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