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11 Terrible Movie Set Accidents That Changed Lives

Very few people don’t love movies. There’s just something about surrendering your conscious over and living vicariously through someone else for a couple of hours that appeals to the masses; people line up in droves to see the latest blockbuster.

Sometimes, the lead character (or someone that’s playing a supporting role) gets themselves into a dangerous situation. We tell ourselves ‘it’s just a movie’ but the fact of the matter is that those people really had to do those things. Most of the time it works out just fine and everyone walks away from the set unscathed, but not always.

Here are 11 times that things didn’t exactly go as planned during shooting:

Noah’s Ark, 1928

In 1928, Warner Bros. released a big budget, highly anticipated film called Noah’s Ark. During filming, the filmmakers thought it was a good idea to flood the studio with 15,000 tons of water (to make it seem more real?); obviously all kinds of extras were swept up in the legitimate flood and tossed all over the place Luckily, John Wayne (who was at that point struggling) was fine, but many others were not so lucky – Three people drowned, one person ended up losing a leg, and 12 more suffered broken bones and other minor injuries.

Shortly after shooting on the film wrapped up, new safety regulations were placed on the film industry. Safety regulations or not, accidents happen.

The Crow, 1994

I can’t even put into words how much I idolized Bruce Lee when I was a kid. So when I found out that his son was the guy from The Crow, it pretty much became my favorite movie. When I got older, I learned of what happened on set – He was fatally wounded when he was hit with a live round instead of the blank round it was supposed to be. Though the story is tragic, it may have helped propel the movie into a cult classic.

The Wizard of Oz, 1939

No one died while making this movie, but plenty of people had mishaps and one even had to quit. Buddy Ebsen was supposed to play the original Tin Man but he had a bad reaction to the metallic makeup that his character wore (so bad that he ended up suffering permanent lung damage), so he had to resign (You can still hear his vocals in “We’re Off to See the Wizard”). Fun fact: His replacement, Jack Haley, was never told why he left.

Margaret Hamilton, who played The Wicked Witch, suffered from second and third degree burns when she was filming her scene in Munchkinland, and her body double got injured by a broomstick while filming a different scene. Perhaps the yellow brick road isn’t so cheery after all.

The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1936

The next two films are pretty much the reason that animal safety regulations in movies are a thing.

In this movie, there was a horrible accident involving a trip wire; as a result, several horses had to be euthanized.

Jesse James, 1939

A horse was killed during the filming of this movie and the American Humane Society had had enough – They opened up a Hollywood office in 1940 so that they could officially keep tabs on and advocate for any animals used in film.

Now You See Me, 2013

When you film a scene where you’re supposed to be drowning and panicking, it’s always a risk that people won’t know when you’re not acting anymore. That’s what happened to Isla Fisher while she was filming this movie; her safety release chain got caught in her costume while she was underwater. It was nearly three minutes before anyone thought that something might be wrong and pulled her to safety.

The Twilight Zone, 1983

This is probably one of the most horrific accidents in filming history. During a battle scene, a helicopter went down and killed three people – Vic Morrow (who was decapitated by one of the blades), Renee Chen, who was only six, was crushed to death, and Myca Dinh Le, seven, was fatally sliced by one of the blades; plenty of people had to witness the horrific scene, including the children’s parents.

Numerous criminal charges and civil suits were brought up against Warner Bros. director John Landis and several others, but everyone was acquitted.

Django Unchained, 2012

You know the scene in the movie where during a particularly heated moment, Leonardo DiCaprio slams his hand down on a table so hard that a glass smashes and he starts bleeding everywhere? It may have made its way into the final cut of the movie, but it wasn’t scripted like that at all. Since he continued with the scene and delivered it well, they decided to use the mishap.

Rocky IV, 1985

In the movie Rocky Balboa defeats the evil Russian, but there was a slightly different reality that didn’t make the final cut. At some point, Stallone decided that it would be good for the movie if the two of them actually boxed each other for a few minutes; fellow actor Ralph Lundgren agreed and proceeded to hit him so hard that he ended up in intensive care for nearly a week.

Die Hard, 1988

This is the movie that shot Bruce Willis into badass action hero fame. Though he managed to get through all of that action without actually breaking any bones, he wasn’t lucky enough to walk away scot-free though – Remember when he fired that gun from beneath the table? The blank rounds were so loud that he ended up losing two-thirds of the hearing in his left ear. The damage was permanent.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, 2010

Daniel Radcliffe was fine during filming. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his body double, David Holmes. Holmes was Radcliffe’s double for every installment of the HP series except one; he’s not in part two because he was thrown into a wall during the flying scene. He’s now paralyzed for life, but the former gymnast didn’t let his misfortune get him down – He now has his own production company and works as an ambassador for the hospital where he was treated.

It’s unfortunate when accidents happen, but it’s a risk that ever Hollywood superstars take. Are there any other movie set blunders that you can add to the list?

What do you think?

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Written by Shanda de Vries

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