While the glitz and glamour of Hollywood often captivate audiences with larger-than-life spectacles, the reality of filmmaking is not always as glamorous as it seems. Behind the scenes, actors put their bodies on the line to bring characters to life, sometimes facing grave dangers in the process. From daring stunts to unexpected mishaps, the film set can be a perilous environment where serious accidents occur. Despite rigorous safety protocols put into place by studios and insurance agencies, there have been instances where actors have sustained severe injuries during production, serving as a stark reminder of the risks involved in the pursuit of cinematic excellence. Here are seven actors who were injured on set.

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7. Tom Hanks – Cast Away (2000)

Tom Hanks delivered a truly inspired performance in the 2000 film Cast Away, including a shocking body transformation that required a prolonged break from production. What many fans may not realize when watching the film, however, is that the actor suffered a near-fatal injury on set while shooting on an island in Fiji. At some unidentified point during filming, Hanks developed a gash on his leg, which he had examined by a doctor.

After taking one look at the wound, the doctor informed Tom Hanks that he would need to go to an area hospital immediately, as the cut had contracted a serious infection that nearly claimed his life. The leading man fought the infection for three full days in a hospital room as production on the film paused. Thankfully, Hanks was able to make a full recovery and get back to work expeditiously, though the experience surely left him shaken.

6. Jeremy Renner – Tag (2018)

Jeremy Renner is another actor who experienced a serious injury on a film set. The MCU actor apparently broke both of his arms while shooting the 2018 film Tag, which centers on a group of adult friends who have continued the tradition of a long-running game of tag since childhood. During one particularly stunning sequence, Renner’s character attempts to evade his friends’ grasp by climbing up a 20-foot-high stack of more than two dozen chairs.

After some defective rigging caused one of the chairs to break, Renner tumbled from the mountain of chairs, leading to the action hero’s hospital admission. Portions of the finished movie reportedly required green-screening to obscure Jeremy Renner’s casts, as he returned to work almost immediately despite his broken bones. Renner has taken many licks in the past several years, both on and off the screen, and is currently still in recovery after a nearly fatal snow-plow accident that he suffered over a year ago. Luckily, the actor seems to be capable of bouncing back from nearly anything.

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5. Jim Caviezel – The Passion Of The Christ (2004)

Mel Gibson’s 2004 feature The Passion Of The Christ has been the subject of a great deal of behind-the-scenes turmoil, leading many cast and crew members to believe that the production was cursed by God himself. Leading actor Jim Caviezel specifically suffered many injuries on the set of the 2004 film, including two lashings from a real whip, leaving behind a permanent 14-inch scar on his back. Caviezel also caught pneumonia and hypothermia from filming in extreme temperatures, and dislocated his shoulder from bearing the weight of a 150-pound cross, echoing the struggle of the real Jesus Christ.

The worst injury that Jim Caviezel experienced during the production of The Passion Of The Christ saw him being struck by lightning, which he was unable to take cover from because he was tied to the cross during the storm. The lightning strike caused Caviezel’s hair to burst into flames and resulted in injuries that required multiple surgeries and an untold number of prescription medications to get over.

4. Charlize Theron – Æon Flux (2005)

Charlize Theron starred in Æon Flux as a rebel spy working to free what’s left of humanity from their oppressive overlords in a sci-fi dystopia. The beloved actress, known for performing her own stunts in many of her films, nearly faced paralysis due to one particular scene in this 2005 thriller. While Theron has never explicitly identified the scene where the stunt occurred, she apparently fell and landed on her neck, resulting in long-term nerve damage. During an interview, Theron explained, “I ended up having a (neck) fusion four years ago, and it was the best thing I ever did. Now my body’s functioning perfectly again.”

3. Jackie Chan – Armour Of God II: Operation Condor (1991)

As one of the most prolific stunt performers in Hollywood history, Jackie Chan has sustained his fair share of serious injuries on set. Throughout his decades-long career, the 69-year-old actor has experienced broken bones, concussions, burns, and even a cracked skull. The worst injury that Chan ever suffered on set happened while filming the 1991 Hong Kong movie Armour of God II: Operation Condor.

During the scene, Jackie Chan was slated to leap onto a tree branch at a high height. After performing the stunt more than once to ensure the editors would have enough takes, the branch snapped, causing the actor to plummet to the ground and bash his head on a rock. A piece of Chan’s skull became fractured, and lodged itself in his brain, causing blood to stream from his ear. Despite the harrowing injury, Chan returned to finish the film shortly after receiving life-saving brain surgery.

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2. George Clooney – Syriana (2005)

George Clooney famously sustained an injury on the set of the 2005 film Syriana, with the tale of the gone-wrong stunt becoming arguably more well-known than the political thriller itself. During the filming of a torture scene, the Academy Award-winning actor, portraying a character tied to a chair, suffered an injury on set. The chair toppled over, causing Clooney to gonk his gourd, resulting in spinal fluid flowing out of his nostrils.

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Clooney explained, “I thought I’d had a stroke. It was like a train horn going off in your head, and you can’t see, and you can’t stand… Then we started doing these things called myelograms, where they shoot contrast into your system, and you can see what’s leaking out. I had a two-and-a-half-inch tear in the middle of my back and a half-inch tear in my neck.”

George Clooney fought for his life in the hospital for over three weeks suffering from excruciating pain after the ordeal, and ultimately considered taking his own life to put an end to the pain. Luckily, the Academy Award-winner was able to tough it out and eventually made a full recovery.

1. Brandon Lee – The Crow (1994)

The tragic story of Brandon Lee’s on-set accident while filming The Crow is one of the most infamous stories in all of Hollywood. While filming a scene where his character is shot by a group of thugs, a real revolver was utilized as a prop, and improperly loaded with dummy rounds. When shot while the cameras were rolling, Brandon Lee fell backward instead of forward, sustaining a fatal wound from a lead-tipped blank fired at close range.

The 28-year-old’s death was ruled an accident due to negligence and has been largely cited as a precedent for more stringent gun prop laws on film sets to this day. When a similar shooting incident occurred during the 2021 production of the still-not-yet-released film Rust, many film fans and film industry insiders cited the mishap as the worst misuse of a firearm on a set since The Crow. In the editing bay, with the use of body doubles and groundbreaking CGI techniques at the time, the filmmakers ultimately completed the film, allowing viewers to witness Lee’s final moments on the big screen.

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