15 Props and Costumes That Physically Injured Actors
All acting is, really, is saying things someone tells you to say while wearing things someone tells you to wear, occasionally waving things someone tells you to wave. Absolute piece of cake.
Unless, of course, the things you’ve been told to wear and wave around end up hurting you. Costumes and props can sometimes, however well everyone’s planned things, lead to upset and injury. Occasionally there are tragedies — the death of Brandon Lee while filming The Crow, or that of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust — but most of the time it’s more along the lines of an actor getting a black eye from a misjudged thrust with a prop sword, or getting a silly costume stuck in the scenery.
The sheer number of injuries that can happen from clothing and props is fairly staggering. Obviously actors can bring in stunt doubles to perform dangerous stunts, but when danger comes from, like, “wearing a jacket,” where do you go from there?
Filming Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Viggo Mortensen swung a kick at a helmet on the ground, assuming it was a rubber prop. It was in fact steel, and he broke his toe. The Toe Ow-ers, more like.
Curry in a Hurry
Portraying the Darkness in Legend, Tim Curry went through lengthy processes to both apply and remove his nightmarish makeup. One day he got impatient and ripped it off, tearing his skin so badly he couldn’t be filmed for a week.
Ice to See You
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze is the best thing about Batman & Robin, but one element of the costume fucked him up. Batteries from LEDs fitted behind his teeth leaked, burning the inside of his mouth as he delivered ironically cool one-liners.
Finished by Spinach
Robin Williams took a can of spinach to the head while filming Popeye. Although the vegetable gives the titular sailor man super-strength, it gave Williams a gash requiring several stitches.
If I Only Had a Functioning Lung
Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, but was hospitalized nine days into filming after inhaling aluminum dust from his makeup. He spent two weeks in hospital and was replaced by Jake Haley.
You Were There (Hospital), You Were There, You Were There…
The Wizard of Oz was a shitshow in general. Jake Haley got an eye infection, Wicked Witch Margeret Hamilton was hospitalized for six weeks with second- and third-degree burns and her stunt double was hospitalized after a stunt broom exploded.
Safety Last, Ha Ha Ha, Oh, a Man’s Been Blinded
Harold Lloyd was posing with a prop bomb on the set of Haunted Spooks when it, er, exploded, blowing off his thumb and index finger and causing months of blindness.
I Have a Badly Healing Wound About This
On his first day as C-3PO shooting the first Star Wars, Anthony Daniels’ costume shattered and a shard stabbed him through the foot. He was also frequently mistaken for a prop and manhandled.
Staples… Why Did It Have to Be Staples?
Shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford’s hat fell off so many times that he ended up stapling it to his head, an unorthodox move that he still has scars from over four decades later.
Putting the I into Ultraviolence
When Malcolm McDowell’s eyes are propped open during the brainwashing sequence of A Clockwork Orange, his cornea got scratched badly enough that he temporarily lost his sight in one eye.
Jean-Clade Van God Damme It, My Fucking Eye
Shooting Cyborg, Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally struck stunt performer Jackson “Rock” Pinckney in the eye with a prop knife. Pinckney lost his eye and sued Van Damme, eventually being awarded $487,500. Cyborg rules, but doesn’t lose-an-eye rule.
During the filming of Now You See Me, Isla Fisher’s shackles got stuck in a grate during a water-chamber escape scene. Her genuine distress was, for several minutes, mistaken for excellent acting.
The Performance of a Knife Time
An Austrian stage actor was accidentally given a prop knife before it had been made safely blunt, and slit his throat on stage. Daniel Hoevels required two stitches, and went straight from hospital to a party.
Black Widow: Very, Very Hot
While everyone got overheated filming The Avengers, Scarlett Johansson’s skintight jumpsuit costume had no room for a cooling fan. She got so overheated that she ended up hallucinating, which, you know, that’s not good.
Does It Hurt? Of Corset Does
Wearing corsets to shoot The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel caused several of Rachel Brosnahan’s ribs to “fuse together,” leaving her unable to take large breaths anymore. Similarly, when Emma Stone filmed the corset-heavy The Favourite, her organs “shifted.”