Film sets can be dangerous places to work. There are so many moving pieces — actors, crew, cameras, props, sets, stunts — that are often in motion, sometimes simultaneously, that things can too easily go wrong. And on the stunt front, where sequences intentionally put performers in physical danger, situations may get downright deadly.

Thankfully, most sets employ experienced stunt coordinators to make sure everything happens as planned. Ted Sharon, a teacher at the Society of American Fight Directors, explained the role of a stunt coordinator to Backstage. "A qualified stunt coordinator will be able to describe as well as demonstrate, or have an assistant who can execute the sequence," he said. "Good stunt coordinators have a healthy regard for actor safety as well as for the director's vision. They are the guardians of both on set."

Still, no matter how much care is taken to make sure everyone has rehearsed, equipment's been checked, and the crew is adequately prepared, etc., sometimes bad incidents occur. Read on for a look at 12 on-set accidents that nearly destroyed acting careers. The tragedy on the set of "Rust" is not included here as it did not happen to Alec Baldwin.

Kristin Chenoweth Wishes She Sued CBS

In 2012, Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth joined the cast of hit CBS legal drama "The Good Wife." Initially set for a multi-episode arc, the "Wicked" vet played Peggy Byrne, a journalist who causes trouble for Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) during the gubernatorial campaign of her husband Peter (Chris Noth).

However, shortly after she began filming, TMZ broke the news that Chenoweth had experienced a frightening accident on set. The outlet shared several shocking photos of the "The Boy Next Door" star strapped to a stretcher and being wheeled into an ambulance. The following day, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the actor had been struck by lighting equipment that was blown over by the wind, and she spent a night in the hospital before being released. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she left the show after the accident. In a statement to People, she explained, "[I'm] getting better slowly, and thank you everyone for your concern." She was replaced by Miriam Shor, her former "GCB" co-star.

Years later, in 2023, Chenoweth told Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live" that she should have sued CBS over the accident. "I didn't do it out of fear and anxiety," she said. Chenoweth added, "I have longstanding injuries from that … It hit me in the face and it threw me into a curb. Seven-inch skull fracture, hairline cracked … teeth, and ribs." To the amazement of the actress, her hair extensions held her skull together. She joked, "Anybody who wants to get hair extensions should, for your health!"

Sylvester Stallone Took A Dangerous Punch

Thanks to his brawny physicality, Sylvester Stallone was one of the biggest action stars of the 1970s and 80s. His insistence on performing everything occasionally got the "Rambo" star in trouble. While filming "Rocky IV," which he directed, Stallone and Dolph Lundgren actually hit one another. "In the first round, I thought these two characters should hate each other so much that they should just attack each other like pit dogs … professionalism be damned," he told Ain't It Cool. Unfortunately, one particular punch to the chest caused his heart to swell. According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stallone said he was told the uppercut "caught the ribs and hit the heart against the ribcage." As a result, he had to be airlifted to a hospital. He spent eight days in the ICU.

Lundgren doesn't seem to be a fan of Stallone's narrative about the incident. Decades later, he (perhaps jokingly) cast doubt on the whole story. "I think it was like an insurance scam or something," he said while speaking with Men's Health. "I mean, I did hit him… And in those days, I was in pretty good shape."

Looking back on his career, Stallone now wishes he hadn't been so eager, as his action-hero past is catching up to him. In an interview with The Times, he reflected, "Don't do your own stunts, that's the moral of that… Life is a matter of managing your ass-whipping."

Syriana Injured George Clooney's Spine

In Stephen Gaghan's 2005 thriller "Syriana," George Clooney plays Bob Barnes, a CIA agent who sent to the Middle East to oversee the assassination of underground arms dealers. The globe-spanning film was shot in multiple countries, including Egypt, Morocco, and the UAE, and it's an action-packed affair full of explosions, gunfights, and double-crossing backstabbers. "Syriana" ultimately netted Clooney an Oscar for best supporting actor.

However, his Academy Award isn't the only lasting effect from Clooney's "Syriana" experience. According to a profile in The Hollywood Reporter, Clooney contends with chronic pain brought on by an accident on the set. Apparently, a couple of days before the shoot ended, the "Ticket to Paradise" star was filming the sequence in which his character is tied to a chair. He toppled over and hit his head. "I thought I'd had a stroke," he recalled. "It was like a train horn going off in your head and you can't see and you can't stand. After flying back to Los Angeles, he checked himself into Cedars Sinai and underwent extensive testing. Ultimately, doctors discovered that he had torn his spinal column.

Clooney told the outlet that his suffering was so severe that he considered ending his life. Thankfully, the pain has gotten easier to handle with time. "I've gone from where I can't function, where 'I just can't live like this,' to 'I've got a bad headache,'" Clooney reflected. Ultimately, he concluded, " … I'm scrappy."

Buster Keaton Broke His Neck

Buster Keaton was one of the most athletic actors to ever grace the screen. A combination of actor, director, writer, comedian, and stuntman, he always performed his films' incredible feats of physical comedy himself. He even excelled in both film and television, a rare feat for stars at the time (his career spanned from 1917 to 1966).

"Sherlock, Jr." (1923) ranks among the actor's best-known films. Keaton portrays a movie theater projectionist who imagines himself into the screen. This lets him go on grand adventures across a variety of genres and locations, an excuse to develop setpieces that include running atop a moving train and playing pool with exploding balls. The train sequence ends with Keaton grabbing on to a water tower as the train passes, and as he lowers himself to the ground, he accidentally opens the spout and is hit by a deluge of water.

According to David McLeod, author of "The Sound of Buster Keaton," the stunt resulted in Keaton breaking his neck. He got up and continued filming, suffering terrible headaches for weeks. However, he never sought medical attention and continued working for decades without having the injury fixed, only discovering the source of his pain years later when he visited a doctor who noticed the fracture. McLeod estimates that this attitude is why audiences love him. He said, "I think they feel really impressed that, my God, he really put himself in danger to make us laugh."

Paz De La Huerta Needed A Real-Life Nurse

In Douglas Aarniokoski's campy horror movie "Nurse 3D," Paz de la Huerta plays Abby, the titular nurse. She's a nurse with a secret: she murders philandering men. When a new nursing-school graduate named Danni (Katrina Bowden) joins the ward, Abby becomes obsessed, insisting that the two be friends.

Ironically, de la Huerta needed a nurse of her own after an on-set accident left her hospitalized. Perhaps even more ironically, she was hit by an ambulance. TMZ posted footage of the incident years later, their helpful red arrows pointing out where the "Boardwalk Empire" star was walking before being clipped by the emergency vehicle. She evidently broke her back and needed surgery to repair the fracture.

In the ensuing decade, the eccentric star has gone back and forth with Lionsgate, insisting that the accident ruined her career. Page Six reported that she was initially paid $73,000 in worker's comp, but Fox News noted that Lionsgate went to court to block her from seeking more. According to TMZ, the actor sought $55 million in compensation, claiming the incident nearly killed her. She also claimed that the studio broke her contract by using an a different actor to dub over her lines. Ultimately, according to court documents posted to Film Suits, a judge threw out the lawsuit.

Tom Cruise's Ankle Injury

Tom Cruise's insistence on doing his own stunts is the stuff of pop culture legend. The man loves to do things like make a commercial for "Top Gun: Maverick" coming to Paramount+ while actively skydiving. And there are so many scenes of him running full-tilt in his films that they've inspired numerous YouTube compilations.

One stunt, on the set of "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," almost jeopardized his future with stuntwork, running, and … life. While shooting in the middle of London, Cruise's flying leap from one building to another was captured on fan cameras from down below. TMZ reported that Cruise sustained an ankle injury during filming, posting footage that showed the actor climbing on to a rooftop and then staggering over to the crew before collapsing. According to Deadline, production on the film shut down for several months in order for Cruise to recover.

The "Edge of Tomorrow" star later appeared on "The Graham Norton Show" to promote the film, revealing that his ankle hadn't fully healed before he went back to shooting. After viewing slow-motion footage of his twisted ankle from multiple angles, Cruise bragged that they got the shot and that it would be in the film. He recalled, "I just went and I said, 'Sorry guys, it's broken … That's a wrap.'"

An On-Set Accident Injured Tom Hanks On Cast Away

We don't tend to think of Tom Hanks as a particularly physical performer. At least, he's much less well-known for stuntwork than the other famous Tom on this list. Still, from "Cloud Atlas" to "Elvis" and beyond, Hanks is willing to transform himself for a role. Few of his performances required as much physicality as his work in Robert Zemeckis' "Cast Away," which cast him as Chuck Noland, a man stranded on an island after a plane crash. The role required Hanks to gain and then lose more than 50 pounds. He achieved the latter look by eating what he called "miserly portions" in an interview with The Guardian.

While actually filming the movie, Hanks cut his leg. Unbeknownst to the "A Man Called Otto" star, the wound got infected. "I got an infection from a cut and it was eating its way through my leg," the actor revealed in an interview with BBC Radio 1 (via DigitalSpy). When he eventually visited a doctor, he was told, "We have to get this infection out of you before it poisons your blood and you die." According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hanks was suffering from a staph infection, and production on the film had to be halted for three weeks while he recuperated.

Charlize Theron's Action Career Almost Ended

Years before she became an action-hero mainstay in the likes of "Mad Max Fury Road" and "Atomic Blonde," Charlize Theron led the cast of "Æon Flux. Directed by Karyn Kusama ("Jennifer's Body), the movie unfolds in a far-off future in a landscape ravaged by disease. Theron plays the titular character, a rebel fighting against a dystopian government.

A mere 10 days into filming, Theron landed on her neck while performing a backflipping sequence. According to an interview with Total Film (via Starpulse), Theron's injury stopped production for eight weeks. "What I learned is that back then I was like, 'I'll do it! I'll do it! I'll do it!' and now I know there's a time and a place," she reflected.

Theron dealt with lingering pain from the accident for many years. "I was a centimeter away from being completely paralyzed for the rest of my life," the South African star later told "… I had eight years of pain management, where I just couldn't get rid of the spasms and the nerve damage." Ultimately, she underwent a procedure called a spinal fusion, and it seems to have solved the problem. Understandably, Theron is much more cautious about her stuntwork these days. She noted, "… My body's functioning perfectly again, and I obviously didn't want to mess that up."

Quentin Tarantino Endangered Uma Thurman's Life

Accidents on film sets often make the news. Productions get suspended and actors are hospitalized, and the media, especially the trades, take notice. However, one incident mostly escaped notice until many years later, when an injured star went public.

While making "Kill Bill," Quentin Tarantino convinced Uma Thurman to drive a car herself. In a lengthy interview with The New York Times about the abuse she suffered at the hands of "Kill Bill" producer Harvey Weinsten, Thurman revealed that she was badly injured thanks to Tarantino's insistence that she not use a stunt person. "Quentin came in my trailer and didn't like to hear no," she recalled. "… He was furious because I'd cost them a lot of time. But I was scared." She eventually attained footage of the crash, which the outlet published alongside the article. The video shows Thurman's car sliding off the road and crashing into a palm tree. "When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion … Quentin and I had an enormous fight, and I accused him of trying to kill me," she revealed.

In the wake of Thurman's revelations, Tarantino told Deadline he gave her the footage and supported her going public. "[The accident] is one of the biggest regrets of my life," he said. "As a director, you learn things and sometimes you learn them through horrendous mistakes."

Ruby Rose Was Nearly Paralyzed

Fans were shocked when "Batwoman" star Ruby Rose announced she would be leaving The CW show after one season. She released a statement to Deadline that read, in part, "This was not a decision I made lightly as I have the utmost respect for the cast, crew and everyone involved with the show." However, TV Line spoke with sources who suggested that her departure from the superhero series may not have been entirely her own decision.

On Instagram, the "Orange is the New Black" star revealed that she had been nearly paralyzed on set, presumably while filming "Batwoman." Though details are scarce about what, exactly, happened to the actor, she posted graphic footage of herself undergoing emergency surgery. "A couple of months ago I was told I needed an emergency surgery or I was risking becoming paralyzed," she wrote. "I had herniated two discs doing stunts, and they were close to severing my spinal chord [sic]." The following year, she went into more detail on Instagram (via Rolling Stone), alleging a series of unsafe working conditions. In addition to being cut near her eye, she said that crew members suffered burns, and alleged that one had been "left quadriplegic." As for why she came forward, Rose wrote, "I will come for you so what happened to me never happens to another person again. And so I can finally take back my life and the truth."

Michelle Yeoh's History Of On-Set Injuries

Michelle Yeoh has been in the business for decades, and the action star is famous for doing the majority of her own stunts. "Physical fighting is relatively easy because I've been doing it for so many years," she told Variety about filming the action sequences in "Everything Everywhere All at Once." However, Yeoh's love of stuntwork has occasionally gotten the actor injured on set. While filming Ang Lee's epic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," she tore her ACL. According to USA Today, she was flown from China to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for surgery. "I knew it was bad when I turned left and my leg kept swinging right," she recalled.

The most dangerous incident of her career, however, occurred while shooting "Supercop" opposite Jackie Chan. During one sequence, Yeoh was supposed to leap from one car to another, while both cars moved on a highway. "In Asia at that time, we don't really do rehearsals, we don't have weeks of preparation," she told Entertainment Weekly. "We learn the stunt and we do it." When she tried to film the stunt the first time, the windshield that was supposed to shatter, didn't. Instead, Yeoh landed on the road. "Fortunately, I didn't go head first," she recalled. Instead — the consummate professional that she is — Yeoh tried again and landed the jump successfully on the second take.

Dylan O'Brien's Maze Runner Stunt Went Sideways

"Teen Wolf" actor Dylan O'Brien quickly proved to be the breakout star from the hit MTV show. A few years into the show's run, O'Brien was tapped to play the lead in a dystopian YA franchise adapted from the "Maze Runner" books. The films follow his character, Thomas, a teenager who wakes up one day in a mysterious maze and finds himself forced to run missions for a government out of control.

In 2016, while filming "The Maze Runner: The Death Cure," The Hollywood Reporter announced that O'Brien had been injured on set. Evidently, while riding atop a moving vehicle, his harness pulled him to the ground and he was subsequently hit by a sliding motorcycle. According to a statement posted on twitter by Wes Ball, the film's director, everyone was hopeful that O'Brien would quickly recover. "I'm sorry for the grief this accident has caused his friends and family as well as my wonderful cast and crew," Ball wrote. "It's scary seeing your friend get hurt, but fortunately, Dylan is going to be just fine." However, weeks later, The Hollywood Reporter noted that production had been shut down indefinitely. The film was eventually completed and it opened in early 2018.

O'Brien later detailed the extent of his injuries while speaking with the Salt Lake Tribune. In addition to brain trauma, he said, the incident "broke most of the right side of my face." He added, "I feel really lucky to have come away from it."

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