Famous actors who sustained serious workplace injuries.
They portray horrific injuries on the big screen every day.
Broken bones, head injuries, gruesome lacerations – you name it – almost every injury known to man has been acted out in movies and television, and often with great effect. But in the back of our minds we can’t help but be comforted by the fact that it’s not real – it’s just entertainment. Well, that may be true, the scenes are staged, however, that certainly doesn’t mean the actors are immune from sustaining a workplace injury.
Like every other profession on earth, actors can get injured on the job, and as history has shown us, these injuries can often be quite severe. Whether it be the result of a poorly managed movie set, a stunt gone wrong or just bad luck, on-set injuries and workers compensation in show business are much more common than you think.
Here are some interesting examples of prominent actors who’ve sustained a serious workplace injury:
Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (broken leg/dislocated ankle)
Iconic Hollywood actor, Harrison Ford, was paid big money to reprise his role as Hans Solo in the 2014 blockbuster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the role nearly cost him his life. A hydraulic door was accidentally triggered on set while Ford was passing through it. The door came down on the actor, knocking him to the ground – dislocating his ankle, breaking two bones in his leg and causing a nasty laceration on his lower leg.
The injuries delayed filming for the best part of two months and Ford successfully went on to sue the production company responsible for the management of the door for health and safety breaches and was awarded $2 million in damages. It was determined that the door acted as a “blunt guillotine” that could have killed the actor if it had landed on his head or neck.
Charlize Theron: Aeon Flux (herniated disc in the neck)
She’s gone on to make a bunch of Hollywood blockbusters in the past 15 years, however, Charlize Theron’s career nearly came to a sudden halt on the set of Aeon Flux back in 2005. The actor, who completed three months of gymnastics training for the role, was performing a number of consecutive backflips, when her hand gave way and she landed on her neck with her body straight out. As a result, Theron suffered a herniated disc between her third and fourth vertebrae which forced her off work for eight weeks and in need of months of intense physiotherapy. And according to the actor, she was “a centimetre from being completely paralysed.”
Theron returned to work but for the next eight years she continued to endure pain and spasms caused by movement between the two affected vertebrae which also forced her to avoid taking on physically demanding roles. In 2013 she decided to consult a spinal specialist who recommended she undergo spinal fusion surgery in order to prevent the movement, which she did – and has since admitted that the back pain she endured for the best of a decade had significantly improved.
George Clooney: Syriana (torn dura)
He may have won the Academy award for his performance in the 2005 film, Syriana, but the injuries George Clooney sustained were so painful, suicidal thoughts had crossed his mind.
The accident occurred when the chair Clooney was taped to for a scene was bundled over and he hit his head on the hard floor. The accident caused the actor to sustain a rare injury known as a torn dura, which is the thick membrane that holds brain and spinal fluid. Clooney spent weeks in the hospital under observation as he suffered excruciating headaches which he described as feeling like you’re “consistently having a stroke”. For weeks the doctors couldn’t diagnose what was causing him so much pain before a neurologist, who had come across the rare injury before, identified the problem and performed a series of operations which relieved the pain and pressure on his brain.
In the year that followed the ordeal, Clooney sustained severe memory loss which forced him to regularly engage in repetitive memory exercises to re-train his brain to retain basic forms of information.
Linda Hamilton: Terminator 2 (permanent hearing loss)
She’s best known for playing the tough, never say die character, Sarah Connor, in the Terminator series but unfortunately for Linda Hamilton, she will always have a constant reminder of her time on set after suffering permanent hearing loss.
During an elevator scene while shooting Terminator 2, Hamilton failed to re-install her ear plugs after removing them following a visit to the bathroom in between takes. Unaware the plugs were no longer in her ears, the actor fired off a shot gun that was loaded with blanks – the small confines and metal walls of the elevator amplified the sound, forcing Hamilton to her knees in pain. According to the actor, the noise was so loud she lost her balance instantly.
Almost three decades later, Hamilton still experiences slight ringing in her ear but has learned to manage the hearing loss in the ear that was closest to the blast.