5 Movie Stunts That Went Horrifyingly Wrong

In the age of CGI, it's easy to forget how many movie stunts are still real ... and really dangerous to pull off. Things can go horribly wrong even when every single possible precaution is taken. And as you're about to discover, some movies skip the whole precaution part and simply hope that the box office results are more than enough to cover any lawsuits. Look at how ...

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5
Kate Winslet Almost Drowned Making Titanic

We've previously talked about how James Cameron almost drowned the stars of The Abyss, and how he himself was almost claimed by Poseidon in the process. But a similar scenario arose when he was filming Titanic, because let's be honest, making that movie was explicitly tempting fate.

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The sequence of the ship sinking alone broke the bones and ruptured the organs of several actors, and Kate Winslet says she almost drowned. During one scene you don't remember because it's not one of the two famous ones, Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are belowdecks and must outrun a big wave.

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They encounter a gate and manage to get it open, but during one take, Winslet's gigantic old-timey coat got caught on the gate and she was dragged beneath the water. She managed to wriggle out of the coat, but not before she reached the point where she felt like her lungs were going to burst.

Cameron downplayed the incident as an actress being dramatic, pointing out that Winslet got right back to work and commenting, "We simply let Kate think she was nearly drowning." You know, for dramatic purposes. But Winslet said that she didn't want to look like a wimp, and that the shoot was so excruciating that on some days she'd wake up thinking "Please, God, let me die."

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Winslet also had a fun time filming underwater scenes, as she was weighed down 12 feet below the surface of a water tank and given an air supply, but sometimes ended up sucking in water instead. And because she was wearing a dress instead of a wetsuit, she came down with pneumonia. By that point, it's possible that she was actually praying for Cameron's death, but that would be rude to admit in an interview.

Related: 5 Great Movie Scenes Made Possible By Reckless Endangerment

4
The Exorcist Permanently Injured Ellen Burstyn's Back

We've talked before about how Exorcist director William Friedkin may have been in need of his own exorcism, given that he surprised his actors with pea soup puke, kept the sets freezing cold to create more realistic shivering, and oh yeah, fired guns off at random intervals to keep everyone on edge. But that didn't leave us with any room to dig into the story of how he messed up Ellen Burstyn's spine, and you know what they say: Every spine deserves its own story.

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Burstyn played Linda Blair's mother, and at one point her demon-occupied daughter knocks her to the floor. Since Blair was only 13 at the time and wouldn't gain the true strength of a demon until her Hollywood Squares stint years later, the stunt was performed by wrapping a wire around Burstyn and pulling her to the ground. After the first attempt hurt Burstyn, Friedkin promised to go easy on the wire-pulling in the next take.

He did not.Warner Bros. Pictures via HuffPostHe did not.

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The scene looks realistic in the movie because it is real -- Burstyn injured her coccyx and suffered a permanent lower back injury. "Coccyx" being an inherently amusing word wasn't enough to alleviate the situation, although the damage didn't stop her from going on to have a rich, full career, and also appear on Law & Order. Today she sounds about as gracious and forgiving as one could be about the incident, but the next time you watch the movie, keep in mind that her shout of pain is not acting.

Related: 5 Actors Who Almost Died Horrible Deaths On Camera

3
Kubrick Almost Killed A Stuntman Making 2001

2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most acclaimed science fiction movies of all time, which is the polite way of saying that it doesn't have even a single cool laser fight. But its portrayal of weightlessness was considered groundbreaking, and the special effects work done to show life in space was intense, even if it didn't involve any explosions. How intense? According to a book about the making of 2001, Kubrick risked stuntman Bill Weston's life.

Risking my what now?<br>
Nothing, keep going.Douglas Trumbull/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer"Risking my what now?"
"Nothing, keep going."

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That's Weston in the photo, filming a spacewalk sequence while hanging 30 feet above a concrete floor with no safety net and a single wire supporting him. Weston also lacked air holes in the back of his helmet, because Kubrick was afraid that light would filter through and ruin the verisimilitude of a movie that ends with a giant space baby. Instead, Wetson had a ten-minute air supply that piped into his sealed spacesuit ... which had no way for heat or carbon dioxide to dissipate.

Shockingly, this ended with a hot, woozy Weston passing out from oxygen deprivation, and as he signaled for help, the last thing he remembered was a crew member urging Kubrick to get him back to safety, and Kubrick complaining that they just got him up there. Kubrick resolved the scare by hiding from Wetson for a couple of days, and once the stuntman was no longer tempted to take a swing at him, he gave Wetson a swanky new dressing room, a fridge full of beer, and a big pay raise. Hey, at least it was an improvement from when he straight up gassed his stars.

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Related: 6 Terrifying Ways Films Used To Achieve Special Effects

2
David Fincher Let Daniel Craig Pass Out Filming The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

All of us, and cinematic history as a whole, appreciate Daniel Craig's iconic turn in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as ... uh ... the Dragon Tattoo? It talks and helps the heroine solve mysteries, maybe? Boy, we all kinda forgot about that ser- wait, there's another one coming out this year? OK.

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Anyway, Fincher took a page from the Kubrick madly scribbled journal of filmmaking and let Craig pass out during filming, although he did bring an exciting new innovation called "caring about the fate of others" to the process. Craig had to be lifted into the air with a plastic bag over his head and act like he was being suffocated, which is an easy mindset to get into when you're, um, being suffocated.

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To determine the difference between fiction and reality, Craig was given a small metal object, presumably the totem from Inception, to hold in one hand. If it fell to the floor, that would mean he had fallen unconscious for real. And indeed, Fincher heard the metal hit the ground, stopped the scene, and let Craig off early for the day once he regained consciousness. There's no word on whether Craig also got a beer fridge for his troubles.

Related: 6 Classic Movies Made Possible By Reckless Endangerment

1
Ghostland Allegedly Left Taylor Hickson With A Disfigured Face

You're probably not familiar with Taylor Hickson, but she had a bit role in Deadpool, a few decent parts in some indie flicks, and was generally considered a potential up-and-comer. In 2016, 19-year-old Hickson was working on a horror movie called Ghostland when a scene called for her to bang her fists on a pane of glass. And well, let's just say that she really owned it.

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In situations like that, movies normally use safety glass, which is tough to break and doesn't shatter into a million razor-sharp pieces if it does. But according to a lawsuit filed by Hickson that uses fancy legal words to make accusations of incredible ineptitude, the Ghostland set used regular glass ... which broke, sliced open her left cheek, and dug into her face. A bloody Hickson was rushed to the hospital, where she received 70 stitches to fix up a gash that stretched from her chin to near her left ear. By the following year, she'd undergone laser and silicone treatment, but was still left with a permanent scar.

Trust us, you don't want to see the initial injury.Steve Blackburn/Getty Images for Mongrel MediaTrust us, you don't want to see the initial injury.

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It's up to the courts to decide whether she's lost income because of the accident, and whether the production company is liable. But the easily avoidable injury wasn't exactly worth it for the sake of fine art, as Ghostland ended up rocking a 44 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. One critic said that while the performances were fine, the movie was full of meaningless cruelty, and that the whole affair seemed like an excuse to show the torture of young women. We guess the universe has a grim sense of irony.

Mark is on Twitter and wrote a book that's never hurt anyone.

Write a safer movie with a beginner's guide to Celtx.

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For more, check out All The Times Viggo Mortensen Almost Died Making Lord Of The Rings:


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