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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 is notorious on the set of The Walking Dead

"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 on "The Tonight Show Starring 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 airbag. 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 got a battle scar from Home Alone

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 won a fight against 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 said in an interview he 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, Chan said, Lee immediately rushed over to Chan to make sure he was OK. Chan said he 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.

An actor in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was hurt for real

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 Chain Saw Massacre," when someone just really wants to get the scene over with.

The famous "dinner" scene in Leatherface's house in "Texas Chain Saw" was filmed in one marathon shooting day, in an un-air-conditioned house in the 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.

Mandy Patinkin laughed until it hurt in 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.

Dave Bautista won a fight against Daniel Craig in Spectre

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 [of] the shower. It's one of those injuries," he later told Entertainment Weekly. "I hit it at the wrong angle and it just went."

Jim Carrey's method acting didn't impress a wrestler in Man on the Moon

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 once again.

As covered in the 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 in Rocky IV

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 in a fan interview.

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

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 badass, but you weigh 102 pounds and your bones are as thin as, like, Crayolas. Relax, you're gonna get hurt,'" he told IGN. "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 in Foxcatcher

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 told Variety. "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.

Linden Ashby was battered and bruised for Mortal Kombat

In 1995, the "Mortal Kombat" film roundhouse kicked its way into theaters and into the hearts of moviegoers around the globe. While expectations were low — especially since the video game movie curse was still in full effect — fans were blown away by the fierce and thrilling action on display. Part of the reason the film worked is because director Paul W. S. Anderson employed actual fighting experts in pivotal parts. For the role of the spectral, fire-breathing ninja, Scorpion, Anderson hired martial artist and stuntman Chris Casamassa.

One of the best fight scenes of the film takes place between Linden Ashby's Johnny Cage and Casamassa's Scorpion. The two start off the battle in a forest before being transported to another eerie dimension to conclude the bout in fiery fashion. It's a brutal exchange of fists and kicks, and one of Casamassa's attacks actually left Ashby in considerable pain.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Ashby explained how Casamassa helped him to prepare for the fight scenes, but he said there was an unintentional accident. "Chris did an ax kick to my kidneys in that fight," he said. "I had a pad on but his heel just came right between the pads and got me in the kidney, hard. I was peeing blood. It hurt a lot."

A Stone Cold Stunner for Sylvester Stallone

The set for 2010's "The Expendables" was filled with so much testosterone that even the buckets containing all the blood, sweat, and tears probably required their own dressing rooms. As the star of the show, Sylvester Stallone got to test his mettle alongside other action heroes like Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, and Jason Statham. However, it wasn't any of them who caused damage to Sly this time around.

During the movie, Stallone's Barney Ross squares off against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's aptly named character, Paine. Austin, of course, is well known for his mudhole-stomping and Stone Cold Stunners in the WWE, where he won multiple championships and raised hell. It appears as if the Texas Rattlesnake brought the same energy to his performance here, but it left Stallone a little worse for wear in the end.

Speaking to FHM Magazine (via The Mirror), Stallone revealed the intensity of the fight scenes in the film, including one that left him needing surgery afterward. "Actually, my fight with Stone Cold Steve Austin was so vicious that I ended up getting a hairline fracture in my neck," he said. "I'm not joking. I haven't told anyone this, but I had to have a very serious operation afterwards. I now have a metal plate in my neck." And that's the bottom line 'cause Stone Cold said so.

Halle Berry went toe-to-toe with an MMA fighter, and it ended as expected

Halle Berry is no stranger to the action genre. She has brawled with the best of them and even fried a Toad in "X-Men." In 2020, she marked her directorial debut with the Netflix sports drama "Bruised." Berry also stars in the film as MMA fighter Jackie "Pretty Bull" Justice. Expectedly, she gets the opportunity to show what she is made of in a few scenes.

In "Bruised," Justice's main opponent is Lucia "Lady Killer" Chavez — portrayed by real-life UFC fighter Valentina Shevchenko. Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Berry revealed that Shevchenko played a major part in ensuring she was prepared for the film by training her. The actor also said that they decided to film their big fight early in the production, when Berry quickly found out just how painful MMA can really be.

"On Day 2, I got kicked and broke two ribs," Berry said. "And, you know, there was a moment when I thought: 'We can shut this down and I can go heal, or I can keep going and just fight my way through it.'" However, the actor decided against it, considering all the time that both she and Shevchenko had invested into the training as well as how a delay could result in the entire film being canceled. So she pushed through the pain to film the scene, saying she waited until they had the scene before telling anyone about her injury.

Michael B. Jordan got floored in Creed

For Ryan Coogler's "Creed," a decision was made to take the realism to the next level by casting real boxers in the film. Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed steps into the ring against "Pretty" Ricky Conlan, who is portrayed by real-life champion boxer Tony Bellew. Much like Sylvester Stallone took a proper hook from Dolph Lundgren in "Rocky IV," Jordan tasted a knuckle sandwich in the movie, courtesy of Bellew.

Appearing on "The Graham Norton Show," Jordan revealed that there was a need to get footage of him taking a punch for a slow-motion sequence. There is no way to fake that type of scene so he had to take a real punch from his co-star — twice. While Jordan said he didn't quite get knocked out, he did feel the impact. "Yeah, I took a real punch," he said. "It felt like I was in a car accident for four days afterward. Tony said he only went 40%; it felt 85. It was tough."

The Godfather's very real fight scene

Compared to other films mentioned here, Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" isn't exactly bursting with intense action that should result in broken bones and busted lips. Sure, there's violence on display, but there should be no reason for the actors to suffer any on-set injuries apart from a freak accident.

However, the memorable scene where Sonny Corleone (James Caan) lays into his brother-in-law, Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo), carries a bit more bite because of the real-life bad blood between the actors. Russo explained to the People and Entertainment Weekly Network that the actors had developed hostility toward each other throughout the production of the 1972 film. They still rehearsed their big scene, but when it came down to the day of the shoot, Caan started to do things differently and more viciously.

"He improvised a few things like that little billy club he threw at me when I came off the stoop," Russo said. "He hit me right in the head with that, and then he throws me over the railing and he's biting my hands. ... When I crawl out, he literally lifted me up with his kick. ... None of that was supposed to happen." Russo added that the beating left him with injuries including broken ribs and a chipped elbow.

Jean-Claude Van Damme's co-star got a knife in the eye in Cyborg

The story of 1989's "Cyborg" merits a book. While it might appear like one of The Cannon Group's trademark low-budget action films, there's a lot of history about how this production came to be. The short of it is that Cannon planned to shoot "Spider-Man" and "Masters of the Universe 2" at the same time to cut costs but plans fell apart. Since Cannon had already spent the money on costumes and props, filmmaker Albert Pyun wrote a script over a weekend that became "Cyborg."

Jean-Claude Van Damme signed up to play the lead Gibson Rickenbacker, and it was off to the races. As with any film featuring JCVD, "Cyborg" is all about the action, and there are countless fight scenes in the movie. In one of the sequences, Van Damme's character battles the baddie Fender Tremolo's (Vincent Klyn) pirates. One of the pirates is played by former bodybuilder Jackson ”Rock” Pinckney.

Van Damme does his usual shtick of kicks and punches and counters the villains' knife attacks back at them. Unfortunately, an accident occurred, as a prop knife went into Pickney's eye. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Pickney sued and was awarded $487,500 in damages, while Van Damme's attorney claimed the incident was unintentional.

Cary Elwes wound up in a hospital while shooting The Princess Bride

Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride" is a beloved 1987 fantasy film that has stood the test of time. Based on William Goldman's novel, it's a riveting action-adventure story that follows Westley (Cary Elwes) as he tries to rescue the love of his life, Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright). It also boasts exciting action sequences, including one between Westley and Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) where the antagonist puts Westley down for the count by bonking his head with the handle of his sword.

We've already covered one injury that happened during filming, but another came to light after the publication of Elwes' book "As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride." Elwes, the injured party, said his co-star, Guest, had no intention of harming him with his metal sword in the scene. The problem was it didn't look great on camera. So, Elwes said, he encouraged Guest to "slightly tap" his head and he would move.

"Chris swung the heavy sword down toward my head," Elwes wrote. "However, as fate would have it, it landed just a touch harder than either of us anticipated. And that, folks, was the last thing I remember from that day's shoot." The actor woke up in hospital. However, he did find the funny side to it, as he explained how the stage directions in the script say everything fades to darkness, and that's exactly what occurred to him. Elwes said this is the take that wound up in the final film.

Harrison Ford is the reason for Sean Bean's infamous scar in Patriot Games

If Sean Bean is in a movie, chances are good his character won't make it to the final credits. No matter if he's a good or bad guy, Bean's on-screen personas seem to be fated to dance with the grim reaper under the pale moonlight. In 1992's "Patriot Games," Bean's character Sean Miller doesn't make it out alive either — unsurprisingly. Although, in this case, he is the villain, so no one can be too upset about Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan putting him in a watery grave.

Miller and Ryan have an exhilarating final encounter on a moving speedboat. Throughout the clash, Ryan looks to be on the back foot and overpowered by Miller; however, the CIA's favorite child perseveres and puts his opponent down once and for all.

As Bean revealed in an interview with The Compleat Sean Bean, the scuffle between him and Ford resulted in him receiving an infamous scar on his face. While shooting the scene, Ford accidentally hit him with the boat's hook, which cut just under Bean's left eyebrow — which is visually a bloody mess in the movie. Bean wasn't too bothered about the permanent mark, stating, "It's in the right place."

Thomas Jane accidentally punished Kevin Nash in The Punisher

Jonathan Hensleigh's "The Punisher" is finally getting its flowers years after its 2004 release. Starring Thomas Jane as Frank Castle aka the Punisher, it is a bloody good time that doesn't shirk away from violent encounters and manages to capture the tone of the comic book character. It might not have the body count of Marvel's next big-screen stab at the character, 2008's "Punisher: War Zone," but it did feature its own literal on-set stabbing.

Appearing on "The Rich Eisen Show," Jane revealed that someone had forgotten to replace the real knife with the prop. So during the scene where Castle fights the hulking Russian — played by ex-pro wrestler Kevin Nash — Jane stabs Nash in the chest with an actual knife. "That was rough," Jane said. "What made it worse was he was so nice about it." The actor said he expected Nash to lash out and react in anger, but Nash didn't. Nonetheless, Jane said he still felt terrible about it.

On his podcast "Kliq This," Nash recalled the incident and explained how he was stabbed near his collarbone. While he said he doesn't hold any grudges about what happened, he added that the people in charge of props should be doing their jobs more diligently to avoid these types of incidents from occurring.

JCVD doesn't hold back in Bloodsport

"Bloodsport" is widely seen as the film that catapulted Jean-Claude Van Damme into superstardom. At the same time, the Newt Arnold-directed 1988 feature is also recognized as one of the greatest action movies of all time. Most fans remember "Bloodsport" for the vicious final fight between JCVD's Frank Dux and the seemingly unstoppable Chong Li (Bolo Yeung). While there's no disputing this is the scene of the movie, there is another swift battle that stands out.

Dux makes quick work of Sadiq Hossein (Bernard Mariano), who dares to get up and put his hand on Dux's shoulder. Dux spins around with a back elbow before hitting Hossein with a chop to the face that keeps him down. The scene looks great on film; however, it wasn't the best time for Mariano.

Speaking to South China Morning Post, Mariano explained how they had practiced the scene before, but it turned out differently when they went in front of the camera. "When we rolled the first take, he moved too fast," he said. "My hand was resting on his shoulder and at that moment, he was already moving back and caught me full on the jaw and split my lip. I passed out and was taken to hospital and stitched up." Mariano insisted that the blood on the mat, which appears in the final cut, was actually his own.