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.
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.