6 Amazing Performances by Actors Who Weren't Acting (Part 2)

Every once in a while you come across a performance in a movie that leaves you in awe of the star's acting abilities and makes you wonder where they learned to perform like that, or what type of drugs they are on. In some cases, the answer is that they're not really acting at all -- sometimes they're being manipulated by sadistic directors, and sometimes they end up inflicting real damage on themselves to get a little closer to that Oscar. Or death, whichever happens first.

#6. Back to the Future Part III -- Michael J. Fox Was Nearly Hanged for Real

Universal Pictures

In the third installment of the Back to the Future trilogy, the Tannen family's genetic predisposition toward assholery is confirmed when Marty McFly travels to the year 1885 and is almost immediately murdered by the notorious outlaw Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (the great-granddaddy of the McFly family's manservant). In this scene, Marty is dragged behind a horse, then hanged from his neck until Doc Brown heroically saves his life.

Man, Michael J. Fox really pulls off that "I was just nearly hanged" look and voice at the end, doesn't he? Well, this was somewhat aided by the fact that he was seriously nearly hanged while shooting this scene. Most of the "Marty's almost killed" shots in this movie were done with a stuntman, but obviously they needed to show the actor's face at some point or people would ask for their money back, so for this sequence they had Fox stand on top of a box and put a noose around his neck.

Universal Pictures
They tried a close-up of his face, but it looked like he was masturbating.

However, director Robert Zemeckis just could not get this to look realistic, so Fox offered to do it without the box, relying entirely on careful hand placement on the noose to keep himself from asphyxiating. This worked for a few takes, but on the third one, Fox missed his hand placement and was really strung up by his neck, like a common pig burglar.

Universal Pictures
Fortunately, Zemeckis still had Eric Stoltz on speed dial in case they needed another Marty.

Fox actually passed out and hanged there for a moment until someone noticed that the movie's star was dying in front of everyone and took him down. Here's how Fox himself put it in his autobiography Lucky Man:

This was the shot that they ultimately used, which made for an impressive albeit a little too realistic scene. But hey, it's not like the director intentionally strangled an actor until he lost consciousness. Who would even do that?

#5. Inglourious Basterds -- Quentin Tarantino Strangled an Actress Until She Lost Consciousness

The Weinstein Company

In Inglourious Basterds, the Inglourious Basterds recruit spy/German film star Bridget von Hammersmark, played by Diane Kruger, to infiltrate a movie premiere in an attempt to kill Hitler and other top Nazi officials, and thus give birth to the Tarantino Universe. SS officer Hans Landa discovers her as a spy, lures her into a private room, and chokes her to death.

However, Quentin Tarantino was unimpressed with choking scenes in other movies, in that actors are rarely in any considerable danger while shooting them, and convinced Kruger to be strangled for real in order to get the scene just right. Fearing that actor Christoph Waltz would choke her too much or too little, Tarantino decided to take matters into his own hands. Literally, his own hands.

The Weinstein Company
"Trust me, I've strangled at least 30 hobos. I got this."

In this interview, Tarantino tells us, "What I said to her was, I'm gonna just strangle you, alright? Full on, I'm gonna cut off your air, for just a little bit of time. We're gonna see the reaction in your face and I'm gonna yell cut." Kruger went "Yep, that sounds like a reasonable thing a director would ask of me" and let Tarantino sit on top of her and choke her to the point of unconsciousness.

The Weinstein Company

While wearing a Nazi outfit.

The Weinstein Company
"Well, I wasn't prepared for this, but ..." (Tarantino tears his suit and this is underneath)

OK, at this point we seriously have to question if Tarantino wrote this entire movie to justify choking a beautiful woman while dressed as a Nazi, because the entire budget was probably still cheaper than hiring one of those high-end Hollywood hookers. Fortunately for Kruger, they got the shot in one take and that's the one that appears in the movie. Tarantino then reportedly gave the crew 15 minutes and had to take a long bathroom break.

#4. Enter the Dragon -- Bruce Lee Actually Power Kicked a Dude

Warner Bros. Pictures

Everyone knows Bruce Lee was a badass. He was such a badass that, even after he died, he came back from the dead (through the power of bad editing) to kick more ass. This was clearly not a man you would want to piss off ... which is exactly what his co-star Robert Wall seems to have done while shooting Enter the Dragon, and you can see the painful consequences in this scene:

That last part, where Lee's kick propels the other actor like the stream of an anti-riot van, dispersing the crowd behind? That wasn't in the script, unless you count the script Lee apparently had in his mind to get revenge on the dude.

You see, earlier in the fight between Lee and Wall, there was a part where real bottles were used. While filming the scene, Wall smashed two bottles together and slashed at Lee, accidentally cutting his arm.

Warner Bros. Pictures
A move that failed to impress Mr. Yellow.

After Lee's arm healed and he went back to reshoot the scene, rumors started going around the set that he was planning to kill Wall for real. Clearly, he wasn't; he simply wanted to cripple him. So for the part where he was supposed to take out Wall with a kick, Lee gave it some extra oomph and sent the guy flying into the extras behind -- Wall landed with such strength that when one of the extras tried to catch him, he actually broke his arm.

Warner Bros. Pictures
If you watch frame by frame, you can see that Wall actually goes around the world and comes back.

That's right: Bruce Lee once kicked that dude so hard, he broke another person's bones. Now, Wall still insists that he and Lee were good friends and that the death plot rumors were started by the director, but that only makes us fear Bruce Lee even more -- this is how he kicks someone he doesn't want dead.

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