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Actors Who Injured Their Co-Stars During Filming

An actor's job is to convince an audience that whatever they're pretending to do onscreen is really happening, no matter how outlandish or fantastical the story might seem. Whether they're fighting orcs with a magic sword or trying a case before a fake Supreme Court, they have to make it look and feel real. That takes effort, and sometimes that effort drifts into the realm of actual, real life injuries. It might be a moment of overexertion during a fight scene, a stunt gone wrong, or an attempt to make something look convincing that just goes too far; sometimes actors get hurt, and sometimes those injuries come at the hands of their own co-stars. 

Actors have, of course, been accidentally injuring each other since the dawn of their profession. Sometimes it's just unavoidable, but some on-set injuries are more memorable than others. Here are ten of the most unforgettable, from a fight scene gone awry to an intense moment on the set of one of the most famous Christmas comedies ever made.

Andrew Lincoln's Walking Dead excitement

The Walking Dead, AMC's massive zombie hit, is an intense show, full of shocking death scenes and undead battles and, of course, brawls between its often at-odds human characters. As the show's leading man, Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) is often at the forefront of these confrontations, and he takes his job seriously. According to co-star Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Lincoln will often get very caffeinated before the show's most intense scenes in an attempt to keep his energy high. This, plus Lincoln's tendency toward clumsiness, can sometimes lead to his co-stars unceremoniously getting punched in the face.

"We did this one scene and I beat the crap out of [Lincoln], basically," Reedus told Jimmy Fallon, referring to his own make-believe fighting. "And then he's supposed to run and tackle me off camera, right? Just jump into an air bag. But he runs and he jumps and he punches me in the face with double fists."

Reedus noted Lincoln has developed quite the reputation for his accidental punches, to the point that Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan on the show, called Reedus up one night to express his dread over shooting a fight scene with Lincoln the following day. The zombie apocalypse is a rough place, even when it's pretend.

Macaulay Culkin's Home Alone battle scar

Anyone who's ever seen Goodfellas knows that Oscar-winner Joe Pesci is an actor with a talent for playing very scary characters, and it's a skill that Pesci himself apparently takes quite seriously even when he's using it for supposedly light family comedy. In the holiday classic Home Alone, Pesci plays Harry, the smarter and more savage of the two bandits who attempt to terrorize and rob young Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) while he's, you guessed it ... home alone.

Though he's ultimately playing an overconfident buffoon, Pesci still felt he needed to make Culkin uncomfortable during their scenes together, and deliberately kept his distance from the young star on set until it was time to actually play the scary bad guy. Even Pesci didn't mean to go quite as far as he did in one scene, though. During their final confrontation, after the bandits catch Kevin and prepare to pay him back for all the pain he's caused them, Harry threatens to bite off all of the boy's fingers. In the film, he never actually gets to, as Kevin is saved at the last moment. In real life, Pesci accidentally bit Culkin during one take. According to Culkin, he still has a scar on his right index finger.

Bruce Lee vs. Jackie Chan

Even before he became an international megastar famous for injuring himself during daring martial arts stunts, Jackie Chan was getting hurt on movie sets. While he was still a teenager, Chan secured work as a stuntman on the Bruce Lee-starring classic Enter the Dragon, which put him face-to-face with the iconic martial artist and action star. At the time, neither of them could have known it was a meeting of fellow legends. Looking back decades later, Chan mostly remembered it as the moment Lee accidentally hit him in the skull.

The injury came during a fight scene in which Lee, using sticks as weapons, takes out a series of opponents with relative ease. One of them was Chan, who was supposed to rush Lee, pretend to be struck by the weapon, and fall to the ground. Lee swung too hard and hit Chan for real, but neither man acknowledged the accident right away. When the director called cut, Lee immediately rushed over to Chan to make sure he was OK. Chan was fine, but even though he wasn't in pain anymore he still enjoyed getting a hug from Lee so much that he just let the moment linger.

Real blood in a horror masterpiece

Most of the time when an actor injures one of their co-stars, it's an accident. Other times, it's the product of said co-star demanding to be struck for the sake of "realism." Then there are those rare moments, like one that happened on the set of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, when someone just really wants to get the scene over with.

The famous "dinner" scene in Leatherface's house in Texas Chainsaw was filmed in one marathon shooting day, in an un-air conditioned house in relentless summer heat. The actors were covered in sweat, the stench in the room was overpowering, and everyone involved was beginning to go a little crazy as they were pushed to their working limits. This craziness ultimately manifested itself as a real injury during the moment in which Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) cuts Sally's (Marilyn Burns) finger to feed her blood to Grandpa (John Dugan). The blade of the knife was covered with tape to make it dull, and Hansen was supposed to pretend to cut Burns, then squeeze a bulb full of fake blood concealed in his hand to make it look like Burns was bleeding. When the tube that was supposed to squirt out the blood kept clogging, Hansen — according to a 2003 DVD commentary — got so frustrated and determined to "get the film over with" that he pulled the tape off and cut Burns for real.

Laughing until it hurts on The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is not a film packed with action sequences, but if you had to guess what scene led to an on-set injury, you might pick one of its elaborate sword fights or the climb up the Cliffs of Insanity. As it turns out, none of these scenes led to the film's most famous injury. That honor goes to the scene in which Inigo (Mandy Patinkin) and Fezzik (Andre the Giant) take Westley (Cary Elwes) to be healed by Miracle Max (Billy Crystal).

Crystal improvised much of his material as Max, churning out jokes on the set for three days while his co-stars fought to hold in their laughter during filming. In many cases, they were unsuccessful, breaking character during takes because Crystal was just too funny. Patinkin in particular, though, really wanted to make it through the scenes without laughing, and it cost him. By the time filming was done, he'd bruised a rib because he'd been clenching his stomach so hard to keep from letting laughter out.

The fight James Bond lost

Sometimes it's tough to be James Bond. Sure, you get the cool cars, the high-tech gadgets, and the slick tuxedos, but you also have to contend with any number of villainous henchmen, assassins, and thugs prepared to batter you senseless at every turn. Luckily for the actor playing the role of Agent 007, most of the battering is fake, but it can sometimes have real consequences, as Daniel Craig knows all too well.

Stunt work on Bond films has always been intense, but the franchise's fight scenes have grown particularly brutal in their execution during Craig's tenure, and he's got the wounds to prove it. During the filming of Spectre, Craig went toe-to-toe with professional wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista during a fight scene that was supposed to take place on a moving train. At one point, Bautista threw Craig across the train car, and while the move was planned, the way Craig landed was not. Craig tore a meniscus in his knee and had to take two weeks off from filming for arthroscopic surgery. He doesn't blame Bautista, though.

"It could have happened to me getting out the shower. It's one of those injuries," he later said. "I hit it at the wrong angle and it just went."

Jim Carrey's method acting didn't impress a wrestler

Professional wrestling legend Jerry "The King" Lawler once famously feuded with the iconic and infamously confrontational comedian Andy Kaufman, and things got so real that Lawler put Kaufman in the hospital after performing a piledriver on him. Sixteen years after that moment, Lawler was called upon to recreate the feud by playing himself in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. This time, Lawler would be acting opposite star Jim Carrey, who was only supposed to be pretending to be Kaufman. Carrey took his role very seriously, though, and things got real for Lawler for once again.

As covered in the recent documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, Carrey was relentlessly devoted to playing Kaufman, remaining in character during the entire production of Man on the Moon to the point that is puzzled and often frustrated his collaborators. Things sometimes got heated, including during scenes with Lawler. At one point during the production, Carrey — in character as Kaufman — spit at the wrestler, prompting Lawler to get physical. The exact nature of the injury isn't clear, but it was enough to briefly land Carrey in a hospital.

Dolph Lundgren's heart-pounding punch

Though the Rocky films are often very melodramatic and bombastic in their portrayal of the title character's story, creator Sylvester Stallone still always wanted to aim for some level of realism during the making of the series. In Rocky IV, in which his character faces Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) on a quest to avenge the death of his friend Apollo Creed, Stallone drew inspiration from a real-life boxing match featuring two fighters who hated each other outside of the ring.

Reasoning that Rocky and Drago would also hate each other, Stallone instructed Lundgren to "really try to knock me out" during the opening moments of their fight. Lundgren came out swinging and hit Stallone (who was also the director of the film) so hard in the chest that he had to cut the scene short. Stallone knew the punches were serious, but he didn't know how serious until later that night, when his blood pressure shot up and he had to be flown from Canada back to the United States for emergency medical treatment.

"He hit my heart so hard that it banged against my ribs and started to swell, and that usually happens in car accidents," Stallone recalled.

Halle Berry's fake struggle led to a real broken bone

Actors understand that injuries can happen during intense sequences, particularly when the make-believe of a scene involves a physical struggle that's anything but fake. Sometimes, though, the real drama of a moment lives on long after it's committed to film. This was the case with Gothika, the 2003 thriller that earned a lot of coverage in the entertainment press thanks to an on-set injury. During a scene in which her character Dr. Miranda Grey is being interrogated, star Halle Berry was supposed to struggle against co-star Robert Downey Jr., who was meant to be trying to restrain her. Berry approached the scene with such intensity that Downey accidentally broke a bone in her forearm while trying to hold her back. The injury made headlines, and Downey was frequently asked, to the point of frustration, to explain what happened while he tried to promote the film.

"She is routinely kicking people's asses, mildly, who are trying to restrain her in the scene and I would say to her, 'Listen. You're bad ass but you weigh 102 pounds and your bones are as thin as, like, Crayolas. Relax, you're gonna get hurt,'" he recalled. "And then, you know, of course, then I turn out to be the a**hole who's like trying to put her arm down with my hand open and I feel her ulna snap... Now I'm the a**hole."

Channing Tatum didn't ask for a popped eardrum

Channing Tatum received some of the best reviews of his career for Foxcatcher, director Bennett Miller's 2014 drama based on true events that happened at John du Pont's (Steve Carell) self-funded wrestling training facility in the 1990s. As Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, Tatum worked hard to reach a certain level of realism and intensity in each scene, and it sometimes cost him. In one memorable moment, Tatum slammed his head so hard through a prop mirror that he hit the wall behind it, leaving him with a cut. In another, Tatum's demand for intensity led to yet another injury, this time at the hands of co-star Mark Ruffalo, who played Mark's brother and coach Dave Schultz.

For a scene in which Dave slaps Mark upside the head, Tatum asked Ruffalo to hit him for real. Ruffalo did, but Tatum immediately regretted his request.

"He pops my eardrum," Tatum said. "All of a sudden it's just making a screeching noise. I can't hear anything."

Tatum's eardrum ultimately healed, but the look of pain on his face in the finished film after Ruffalo slapped him was definitely not acting.