Close Calls These Daredevil Celebs Had When They Went Against Impossible Odds

A number of Hollywood stars have taken the saying "work hard, play hard" to heart. While some celebrities spend their days off sunning on yachts or relaxing on a private beach, others spend their downtime chasing memorable adventures. For certain daredevils, they're not having a good time unless they have an epic story to share in an interview down the line. These experiences not only push them out of their own comfort zone, but it provides them with the thrill that's usually missing from their days of press junkets and photoshoots.

It's never bad to step out of your comfort zone, but sometimes those adventures can land you straight into the danger zone. For these famous faces, their thirst for thrill almost cost them their lives; some celebs even managed to cheat death multiple times. The world of an A-lister daredevil is unpredictable and not for the faint of heart. Let's take a look at some of their craziest close calls.

Leonardo DiCaprio came face to face with a shark

Leonardo DiCaprio almost met a similar fate as Jack Dawson while he was filming the 2006 film "Blood Diamond." On one of his days off, DiCaprio went on an underwater expedition involving sharks that went terribly wrong — and could've gone even worse. The Oscar winner was lowered into the water in a cage that was meant to keep him safe as he got close to great white sharks. However, one shark got way too close for comfort. "They actually said in 30 years this has never happened, but the tuna kind of got stuck on the top of the cage and the great white leapt out and tried to bite it and went into the cage with me," the actor told Ellen DeGeneres. While on the hunt for that tuna, half the shark's body ended up in the cage with DiCaprio. 

Thankfully, the actor laid flat on the bottom of the cage and avoided the life-ending chomps. Despite the "Titanic" actor lending a hand to causes involving the environment, this incident made him rethink going on dangerous expeditions entirely. And evidently, this isn't the first time he's narrowly escaped the Grim Reaper's clutches. "My friends have named me the person they least want to do extreme adventures with, because I always seem to be very close to being part of a disaster," he once told Wired

Jackie Chan's stunt went horribly wrong

Jackie Chan's illustrious film career contains many memorable action films with complex stunts all done by the actor himself. It perhaps comes as no surprise that the actor has suffered many brutal injuries on set. However, one stunt gone wrong almost killed the silver screen legend. While shooting the 1986 film "Armour of God," Chan had a near-death experience that left him with a cracked skull. He reflected on the incident in a 2017 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment. In one of the scenes, the actor pops open an actual can of beer and takes a hearty swig from it before jumping through a tree. It took multiple takes to get the shot just right, which meant multiple beer swigs were needed. 

As he jumped on the tree during one take, things went horribly awry. The tree's branches buckled, and Chan landed on a rock. The action star went numb and a piece of bone pierced his brain. "They carried me from the mountains down to the hospital," he said. From there, doctors operated on his fractured skull. "I still have a metal plate in my head and can feel the indentation from the impact," he said in a 2015 interview with Parade

"I almost died," Chan told Yahoo! Entertainment. We're pretty sure that's an understatement.

A stunt mishap changed Dylan O'Brien's life

In 2014, "Teen Wolf" star Dylan O'Brien headed to the silver screen with "Maze Runner" franchise. The franchise gave him a chance to cement himself as a young Hollywood action star. However, while filming "Maze Runner: The Death Cure" in 2016, O'Brien was hit by a stunt vehicle. The actor suffered a concussion, facial fracture, and brain injuries; production was paused for almost a year. He began to wonder if the door on his acting career was closed for good. 

"The first time I saw my face I was like, 'That's it,'" he told People. "I absolutely went through a period of not knowing what my future was going to be." Per Deadline, he underwent facial reconstruction surgery, but the emotional scars continued to linger. "I had a rough and long road back from that, probably more than people realize. It was a very private and personal thing for me. I was going through that sh** for long time."

Understandably, O'Brien is now more anxious when shooting stunts. "Whenever I'm putting on a rig, I'm vetting every piece of that rig and much more," he admitted to Variety.

One punch sent Sylvester Stallone to the ICU

Rocky Balboa is a character that we all love rooting for. In the "Rocky" franchise, the fictional boxer takes the hardest hits and gets back up every time like a true champion. However, while filming "Rocky IV," the man behind the character took a hit that was hard to come back from. According to The Hollywood Reporter, one fight scene went wrong when Sylvester Stallone directed co-star Dolph Lundgren to throw real punches instead of the choreographed fight sequence. "For the first minute of the fight, it is going to be a free-for-all," Stallone told him. 

With the camera rolling, Lundgren proceeded to unload forceful punches and ended up damaging Stallone's heart and ribs. "I didn't feel it at the moment but later that night my heart started to swell. He bruised the pericardial sac which is usually when the heart hits the chest," he explained in "The Making of Rocky vs. Drago" documentary. Stallone was sent to the ICU, where he spent nine days. "I knew I was in trouble when I showed up and nuns met you at the ICU," he joked. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Lundgren suggested that the hospitalization actually came from Stallone being overworked, not the punch. In a separate interview, he joked, "All I did was obey orders. He was the boss. I did what he told me."

Wrestling almost cost David Arquette his life

The Arquette family has long been a fixture of Hollywood, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the younger generations got into acting. A less expected turn came in 2000 when established actor David Arquette became a professional wrestler and even won the WCW World Championship belt. "Wrestling is a very dangerous and incredibly painful sport. It is not fake in the least," he explained to People. During a match in 2018, the actor had a close call and truly realized how real professional wrestling can be.

In the middle of a death match with Nick Gage, Arquette was accidentally stabbed with a light bulb. "I thought I was dying," he shared. "I got out of the ring and I was totally lost. I couldn't see and I couldn't hear." He was then rushed to the hospital and needed surgery and stitches. Ironically, the death match taught him an important life lesson. "There was a certain carefree, daredevil aspect about the way I lived life previously," he said. "But I didn't want to die. With the death match, I was doing it on purpose. I was feeling pain to numb pain. Afterwards, I realized I needed to be kind to myself." 

In an interview with GQ, the actor explained that the self-exploration journey after the match led him to pursue therapy and see a holistic psychiatrist.

Zac Efron's morning bike ride went wrong

While filming a musical, one should expect to spend long hours rehearsing lyrics and intricate choreography. You most certainly do not expect to almost get run over by a double-decker bus. While making "The Greatest Showman," Zac Efron saw his life flash before his eyes while riding bikes with co-star Hugh Jackman. As the "High School Musical" star shared on  an episode of "The Graham Norton Show," things took a bad turn when the two were out riding around London one day. "I followed Hugh around a few cars and suddenly there was a double-decker bus right in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, went under the front tire and narrowly missed death," he recalled, per People.

As scary as it was, Efron's co-star seemed relatively unfazed. "Hugh was on the other side of the road and stuck up his thumb and just said, 'You good? Let's go,'" Efron joked. 

This wasn't Efron's first near-death experience. In 2022, the actor spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the time he shattered his jaw in 2013 after slipping on water in his home. "I almost died, but we're good," he said. The appearance of his jaw has since changed, which led to some plastic surgery speculation, but he insists the new look is a result of the injury.

An accident made George Clooney give up motorcycles

In 2018, George Clooney swore off motorcycles forever after a particularly scary accident. The actor was filming the Hulu miniseries "Catch-22" in Italy when he was seriously hurt while riding a scooter. According to TMZ, the actor was going 60 mph when he crashed into a car that swerved into his lane. Clooney's helmet was split open, and the impact of the crash sent the actor flying in the air. He suffered bruises on his arm, legs, and pelvis, but he was quickly released from the hospital, per TMZ

The actor brushed off the injuries but the spectators filming the crash left an impression on him. "If you're in the public eye what you realize when you're on the ground thinking it's the last minute of your life is that, for some people, it's just going to be entertainment for their Facebook page," he told the Sunday Times. "I'm a pretty positive guy, but that told me — clearly — that you really are here just for their entertainment." 

The brush with death made the actor put his motorcycle days behind him. He told The Hollywood Reporter, "I was hit hard. I was just waiting for the switch to turn off because I broke his windshield with my head, and I thought, "OK, well, that's my neck." If you get nine lives, I got all of them used up at once — so I can let go of motorcycle riding for a while."

After a spinal injury, Orlando Bloom reined it in

Orlando Bloom may be known today as a Hollywood heartthrob, but the actor was a serious daredevil early in his life. One close call in 1998 gave him a new perspective on life. In a 2005 interview with GQ, the actor recalled one night where things went terribly wrong. While trying to climb up on a roof on a lark, the "Lord of the Rings" star ended up falling three stories and severely injuring his spine. "I faced the idea of living in a wheelchair for the rest of my life," he told the outlet.

"I realized, I'm either going to walk again or I'm not."

After a few weeks in the hospital the actor was able to recover and walk on his own. What's more, he began to rethink his daredevil lifestyle and taking unnecessary risks. "I used to ride motorbikes and drive cars like everything was a racetrack; it was ridiculous. It wasn't because I thought it was cool; it was just because I loved living on the edge. But I've chilled," he explained.

The actor still reflects on that accident and his miraculous recovery. In a 2021 Instagram post, he shared a throwback photo three months after his fall. "Grateful everyday for my limbs that allow me to push my limits and live life on my edge," he wrote.

Sean Kingston's near-fatal joy ride

In May 2011, pop star Sean Kingston survived what could've been a fatal accident. As the "Beautiful Girls" singer recalled in an interview with "Today," he was hosting a Memorial Day party at his Miami home when he decided to hop on a jet ski and hit the ocean with a friend. At one point, he came upon a bridge but realized too late that the tide was too high to drive under it. He ended up crashing into the bridge, and his head, chest, and arms hit the structure. He fell into the water unconscious but was luckily saved by an off-duty coast guard officer. 

Kingston spent 11 days in the ICU and even needed emergency open heart surgery due to a torn aorta. The accident was later investigated by the police who claimed Kingston's lack of experience in boating safety was the main cause, per TMZ. His passenger, who also sustained injuries, told TMZ that the two were going too fast on the jet ski before crashing into the bridge. Kingston was fined $180 for operating the vehicle recklessly.

The police report even revealed that the bridge was left with imprints of Kingston's body from the crash. "It's a blessing," he said on "Today." "I'm blessed to overcome the tragic situation."