Actors Who Suffered Damage To Their Bodies During Filming

Actors have a pretty good gig, most of the time. They get to travel the world, see all kinds of places, meet all kinds of people, and live a lifestyle that most would give anything to experience even for a few days. But it's not all sunshine and roses, and sometimes a day at the office means some serious bodily injuries for actors.

Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead)

Daryl Dixon might have a reputation for being the biggest badass in the apocalypse, but according to what Norman Reedus told People's Choice, that's not really him at all.

"I mean, I'm kind of a wimp," he told them when he was asked just how well he'd fare in a real zombie apocalypse. His self-proclaimed difficulties in the bravado department aren't reflected in his dedication to making it look good on screen, though, and Reedus has managed to chalk up an impressive list of injuries he's sustained while filming The Walking Dead. Among them are a few black eyes, and some of them came from his trademark crossbow. "I was running through a corridor with my crossbow, and I hit it on the door frame, and it hit me in the face and gave me a black eye. Twice."

That was in the show's fifth season, the same season that he sliced his arm open. He told The Wrap that his favorite scene was one where the survivors barricade a barn door to keep the walkers out, and it's the same scene that he sliced open his arm so badly that his costars said they saw it open, and saw blood start pouring out It was caught on camera, but didn't make it into the show).

In addition to being injured by his own weapon and a barn door, he also sliced his hand open on a vending machine. He told EW, "Why am I always getting hurt? I get hurt all the time. I feel like I should have like football pads on at all times, even when I'm just walking around."

Kristin Chenoweth (The Good Wife)

Some shows seem to lend themselves to endangering their cast and crew more than others, and The Good Wife isn't likely to be on anyone's list of potentially deadly shows. But in 2012, Kristin Chenoweth suffered a host of injuries that forced her to leave the show and concentrate on her recovery and physical therapy after a piece of the overhead lighting rig fell on her in what People described as a freak accident.

Her list of injuries is nothing short of terrifying, and when she was rushed to Bellevue Hospital in New York City, they found she had a 5-inch skull fracture. Over the next few years she found that more and more medical issues with her ribs, hips, and neck started to develop. She said that immediately after the accident she had difficulties putting sentences together, and that she has continued troubles with multi-tasking. She was still feeling the effects in 2016, telling People, "I'm getting along so good, but for example, about three weeks ago I found out I have three cracked teeth from the accident. It's an ongoing recovery and it's not going to be fast."

When she appeared at the Toast To Survivors Luncheon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she said her mother had flown out to help her during her recovery. "I said, 'Why me, why me, why me, why me?' and she said, 'Why not you? You're human like everyone else. Things happen. You're no special or worse than everyone else'."

Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ)

When Jim Caviezel auditioned, he thought he was up for a part in a surfing movie (via Fox News). While he says that he had no doubt he was going to accept Mel Gibson's offer to play Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, no one would blame him if he had turned it down, knowing what kind of injuries he was going to sustain during filming.

The role required being on the receiving end of some understandably brutal beatings and torture scenes, and along the way, Caviezel came down with a lung infection and pneumonia, developed a skin infection and headaches from the makeup, fought off hypothermia, and dislocated his shoulder but all those injuries were just a warmup for what happened while they were filming the Sermon on the Mount.

"We were preparing to shoot the Sermon on the Mount and three seconds before, I was hit by lightning. I knew it was going to happen," said Caviezel of the terrifying ordeal. "People started screaming and they said I had fire on both sides of my head and a light around me. [...] It was a sickening feeling."

The BBC reported that not only did the lightning strike hit Caviezel, but that it also jumped to assistant director Jan Michelini. It was the second time Michelini had been struck by lightning during filming, and neither were seriously hurt.

Hugh Jackman (X-Men series)

There's absolutely no one that could play Wolverine like Hugh Jackman, and not many people would be willing to take the damage he has, either. When he spoke to Entertainment Weekly and was asked about just how long it took him to get used to wearing Wolverine's famous claws, the answer was a roundabout admission that he never really did. The claws were very real, and Jackman called them "killing machines".

"I'm a bit of a klutz," he said, when asked if it was true that he had given himself scars from the claws. "I used to have to practice so that I wouldn't hit people, and the one thing I of course neglected to practice was the follow-through, so I quite often... I've got a number of scars on my thighs, and it's really not cool." Not just a danger to himself, he also stabbed Mystique's stunt double, and was a bit taken aback when she was thrilled about her badge of honor.

When The Hollywood Reporter talked to Kevin Rushton, the stuntman who went head-to-head with Wolverine in a cage fight for his first big on-screen performance, he talked about just how real those fight scenes ended up being. Jackman didn't have a stuntman himself, and Rushton said that by the time they were done filming — goaded on by a director who kept telling them to hit harder — their hands were swollen to "the size of balloons by the end of it."

You'd never suspect Jackman suffers from a lack of coordination by seeing him on the screen, but movie cameras aren't the only ones catching him hurting himself. In 2010, he was live in front of a crowd of 6,000 people when a zip line stunt went wrong. Instead of flying gracefully onto the stage on Oprah, The Telegraph reported that he forgot to brake, and crashed into a light rig instead. After being hoisted down and bandaged up, he came back with a bandage on his face and joked that one of the other guests, U2's Bono, was supposed to have done it instead, but "they couldn't afford the insurance."

Rose Leslie (The Good Fight)

Rose Leslie is perhaps best known for her role as Ygritte from Game of Thrones, and while it seems logical that there had to have been at least a few injuries — or at least some bruises — during her time on set, it wasn't during the fantasy epic that she got hurt. Leslie told E! (via Refinery 29) that she had completely escaped being hurt at all during Game of Thrones, and instead, she broke her toe filming The Good Fight, a spinoff of The Good Wife.

"This was purely down to me. This was my kind of like ignorance, in thinking that I could turn and pivot on a little dime," she said of the incident. "Of course, when I attempted it on camera, I then completely whacked it into a table."

She went on to add that at least if she'd fallen in Game of Thrones, she would have had an excuse. Instead, this gave her a lesson in irony.

Lucy Lawless (The Tonight Show With Jay Leno)

In 1996, Lucy Lawless was on top of the world — and climbing to the top of the television ratings, too, with Xena: Warrior Princess. By the second season, cast and crew were put to the test when they were sent scrambling to figure out a way to work around an injury so bad that Lawless wasn't just unable to fight, she needed to learn how to walk again.

While filming a skit for The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, she fell off her horse and fractured her pelvis in several places. When she spoke with the LA Times in the March following the accident, she was already up, walking, kicking, and ready to get back in the saddle. While she credited a tough upbringing with teaching her how to fight and how not to cry, she also said that the accident left its mark in more than just a physical way.

"I'm ready to get back on the horse," she said. "There's no medical reason why I can't. It's just psychological now. I don't think I'll ever get on a horse again without thinking of Christopher Reeve. See, I won't ski for that reason. I don't want to hurt myself and let people down, but I can't not do everything, so I'm going to get back on that horse. It's important for me to give myself that challenge. Otherwise, I'm forever going to be frightened."

Halle Berry (Gothika)

Halle Berry's injury shut down filming on Gothika for a week, the BBC reported in 2003. The official statement included few details, and simply said that her broken arm had happened during filming a scene that wasn't even particularly a stunt scene, and that it had been an accident where "Her arm didn't go the way it was supposed to."

In 2012, though, TMN talked to a source that suggested there was more to it than that, and that Berry hadn't forgiven the actor who had been holding onto her when he arm broke: Robert Downey, Jr. According to their source, she felt that he hadn't sufficiently apologized for the incident — which he said was a complete accident — and still tends to avoid him.

Bruce Campbell (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

There are few films that capture the heart of a cult classic quite like Evil Dead, and it's impossible to forget that the entire thing was essentially created by a group of friends just goofing around and having a good time. One of the long-standing rumors is that Bruce Campbell actually had his jaw broken when they were filming the original movie, and according to him, it's absolutely not true. "I love the fact that people still believe that," he told a crowd at Dallas Comic Con.

He was, however, injured for real while filming Ash vs. Evil Dead. According to what he told Entertainment Weekly just before the season finale debuted, he had blown out his hamstring two weeks before shooting wrapped.

"If you've ever blown a hamstring, you know they call it hamstrung for a reason. You can't walk. So, to do fight scenes for two weeks when you can't walk — now you're living the dream!"

Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist)

Ellen Burstyn played the afflicted Reagan's mother in 1973's The Exorcist, still one of the the most infamous horror movies of all time. When The Telegraph spoke to her in 2016 about her decades-long career, they noted that one of her most striking characteristics — her stiff posture — was a reminder of an injury she'd sustained while filming The Exorcist.

For a scene where Burstyn was to be thrown against a wall, she was equipped with a harness and rig that was supposed to yank her off her feet. After getting one take, Burstyn says she not only protested the idea of doing another one, but insisted she was going to get hurt. She says when she went to the director, William Friedkin, to tell him she wasn't comfortable doing it again, he told her they'd go easy on her. When she turned away, though, Friedkin told the stuntman on the other end of her harness, "Give it to her this time."

The pain on her face in that scene is real, and the ambulance was called after the cameras stopped rolling. Burstyn has suffered in permanent pain ever since, and that's not something you forget. "It was way beyond what anyone needs to do to make a movie," she later said.

Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith (Roar)

The 1981 movie Roar hit select theaters again in 2015 for a limited release, and Entertainment Weekly took another look at just what went on behind the scenes of a movie that put its cast and crew alongside a supporting cast of 132 animals, including lions, tigers, and a 10,000-pound elephant.

One of the child stars, John Marshall, told EW, "In hindsight, I know how stupid it was to do this film. I am amazed no one died." He also says that the oft-repeated statistic that 70 people were injured during filming was a little off, and that it was actually 72 people.

Among those people were Tippi Hedren, who rose to fame in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and found her calling hoping to raise awareness about the conservation of the world's big cats (that was the heart of the film). By the end of shooting, Indiewire reported she had weathered her way through a broken leg that had been crushed by the elephant and went gangrenous, and scalp wounds. Melanie Griffith's injuries were no less severe, and she was mauled so badly that she needed facial reconstruction surgery to fix the damage. Theirs weren't the only horrible injuries, either: director Jan de Bont (who went on to direct Twister) was scalped and needed 120 stitches.

Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket)

Sometimes, actors will go to extremes for a role, and Vincent D'Onofrio has turned extremes into an art form. After being cast in Full Metal Jacket, he rushed to gain 70 pounds for the part. Going from fit and athletic to putting on that much weight in that amount of time did some damage, and in a 1987 New York Times interview, he talked a bit about what it did to him.

The change was so drastic that he found himself having trouble doing even the most mundane of tasks, like tying his shoes. When it came to shooting the scenes where the Marine recruits were going through boot camp, it was as physically grueling in real life as it looked on screen. During the filming of one of the obstacle courses, D'Onofrio blew his knee out so badly he needed to have surgical reconstruction done. A year later, he was back to running six miles a day.

Charlize Theron (Aeon Flux)

In August 2004, People reported that Charlize Theron had been injured on the set of her new film, Aeon Flux. At the time, they didn't know how serious the injury was, and reported that the role had required all sorts of specialized training in gymnastics.

It only came out later that she had been incredibly close to being paralyzed. The stunt in question had been a backflip, which she'd had to do while wearing platform shoes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she slipped, fell, and landed on her neck. The fall herniated a disc near her spinal cord, and production stopped for eight weeks. Originally, doctors had suspected she might be at least partially paralyzed, and while she was back at work surprisingly quickly, she later said she'd learned a valuable lesson.

"[..] now I know there's a time and a place," she told Total Film (via StarPulse). "You have to be smart about it and I've definitely come to a place in my career where I would be the first to say, without feeling guilty or not badass enough, 'You know what? I don't need to do this.' It's wise because I felt guilty for shutting down production 10 days into shooting for eight weeks."

Erik Estrada (CHiPS)

Erik Estrada skyrocketed to fame with the cop drama CHiPs, and it was that same show that almost claimed his life. While filming in 1979, Estrada was filming a scene that NBC representatives called a relatively slow ride around a car. It was something they'd done before, and was nothing like the high-speed chases the show was known for. Estrada crashed, though, and was sent to the UCLA Medical Center with fractured ribs and possible damage to his heart.

A week after the accident, Estrada was taken off the critical condition list, and The Chicago Tribune reported a few more details. Not only had he crashed the 500-pound motorcycle he'd been riding, but he'd been hit by the car they were supposed to be going around. The final injury toll was a broken breastbone, a few broken ribs, and a broken wrist. Filming was halted, and doctors issued a statement that he would be out of the hospital in a week.