15 Actors With Physical (And Emotional) Scars That Helped Their Craft

From injury to stardom: Unforeseen blessings in disguise.
15 Actors With Physical (And Emotional) Scars That Helped Their Craft

From injury to stardom, Hollywood's elite have often found success in the most unexpected of places. From Zac Efron’s fountain-related face plant that transformed his jawline to Sylvester Stallone being born with a facial nerve severed and Cindy Crawford despising her beauty mark before it became iconic - these 15 actors all had physical deformations or injuries that helped their craft. 

From Adam Driver using acting as an outlet for emotions he couldn't express after leaving the Marine Corps due to an injury, John Wayne finding solace from football ending early because of body surfing accident and Matt Smith getting "the same sense of freedom" playing football when transitioning into acting; each actor has used what could be seen as misfortune at first glance and turned them into blessings in disguise! Read on below for more inspiring stories about how adversity can lead us down paths we never expected but ultimately find great joy in pursuing.

Bullied by his father, Alan Cumming honed qualities that aided him in becoming an actor.

CRACKED ALAN CUMMING'S PARENTAL BULLYING MADE HIM A QUICK STUDY ON HUMAN EMOTION. Alan Cumming reflected on how his father's bullying helped him develop qualities for becoming an actor, such as listening and not showing fear.

Daily Record

Will Smith found success despite his childhood wounds.

CRACKED WILL SMITH'S TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD MADE HIM A GREAT ACTOR. Will Smith has written an autobiography detailing his difficult childhood and how it shaped him into the actor he is today. Не explains that putting on a cheery public persona was a way to cope with the trauma of witnessing domestic violence at home.

NZ News

Football injury gave Matt Smith a new career - with unexpected freedom.

CRACKED MATT SMITH'S SOCCER INJURY OPENED THE DOOR TO AN ACTING CAREER. Matt Smith suffered from spondylosis, and his club released him. His drama teacher gave him one more chance to act, which changed the course of his life. Now Matt gets the same sense of freedom as he did playing soccer.


Broken arm leads John Astin to an unlikely acting career.

CRACKED BREAKING HIS ARM CHANGED JOHN ASTIN'S LIFE. After breaking his arm, John Astin decided to pursue a career in academics. Then he got the chance to play some unusual roles, which led him to become an actor (despite not fitting into any preconceived notions of what actors should look like).


Viola Davis transformed her emotional struggle into a successful acting career.

CRACKED VIOLA DAVIS TURNED EMOTIONAL STRUGGLES INTO AWARD-WINNING PERFORMANCES. Viola Davis became an actress as a way to cope with her emotions, using the process of creating characters as an outlet for what she couldn't express in real life. Her performances are powerful reflections of this emotional journey. AD FI

Washington Post

Bodysurfing injury helps John Wayne become Hollywood icon.

CRACKED JOHN WAYNE: FROM BODYSURFING INJURY TO HOLLYWOOD STARDOM. John Wayne's football career was cut short due to a bodysurfing injury, which led him to Hollywood and his eventual success as an actor.

Outsider / Variety 

Adam Driver's injury turned out to be the stepping stone for an acting career beyond his wildest dreams.

CRACKED ADAM DRIVER WAS MEDICALLY DISCHARGED. Adam Driver served in the Marine Corps, and was medically separated after three years due to an injury, but found solace in transitioning into acting as it reminded him of being part of something larger than himself.


From football player to actor: Burt Reynolds proves an injury can be a career-booster.

CRACKED WITH A CAREER-ENDING INJURY, BURT REYNOLDS FOUND AN UNEXPECTED PATH TO STARDOM. Burt Reynolds was a running back for Florida State before injuries and a car crash ended his playing career, leading him to pursue drama at Palm Beach Junior College.

ESPN / Car and Driver

From injury to stardom: The Rock's journey of defying the odds.

CRACKED INJURIES MADE THE ROCK AN ACTION HERO. His promising football career was cut short due to numerous injuries. Не ultimately found success in wrestling, before becoming an action movie star. JUST


Tom Cruise's career-launching knee injury: a blessing in disguise?

CRACKED ТОМ CRUISE: FROM INJURED ATHLETE TO LEADING ACTOR. Cruise was an active student, participating in lots of after school sports. After a knee injury ended his athletic career in his senior year of high school, he decided to audition for the lead role in Guys and Dolls.

Joker Mag / Marca 

Gregory Peck's back injury changed his life and won him an Oscar.

CRACKED GREGORY PECK'S BACK INJURY: A BLESSING IN DISGUISE. Peck's back injury from a dance lesson allowed him to avoid being drafted into the military during WWII, leading to an acclaimed film career.

Grunge / Gold Derby 

Cindy Crawford's beauty mark: A blemish that turned into a blessing.

CRACKED CINDY CRAWFORD'S BEAUTY MARK: ONCE DESPISED, NOW ICONIC. Cindy Crawford reveals that she used to hate her beauty mark, but it eventually became the thing that set her apart and made people remember her.

People / Enigma Mag 

Zac Efron's jaw transformation was due to a fountain-related faceplant.

CRACKED ZAC EFRON INJURED HIS JAW. Zac Efron says his dramatically changed jawline was due to an old injury, not plastic surgery. It's the result of a 2013 accident where he slipped and hit his face on a granite fountain, which caused him to need physical therapy for rehabilitation. BVLGAR

Vanity Fair / CNN 

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