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Actors Who Needed Surgery After Shooting A Movie

Making movies can be tough. It's easy to assume that actors have it easy and that making movies is all fun and games, hanging out with their famous buddies and often filming in gorgeous locales around the world. While that is likely true some of the time, shooting a film can also be a grueling job that requires long hours, months away from home and family, and even legitimate danger. Stunt people might do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to risky set pieces and action scenes on film sets, but actors often still get hurt — and even end up hurting their co-stars – while making movies. Some of the injuries sustained on set have required hospital visits and even forced actors to undergo surgery.

Countless actors have had to spend a night or two in the hospital due to injuries sustained while making movies, but more often than not they just have bumps, bruises, or sprains that allow them to get back on their feet and even back on set rather quickly. Still, there are examples of actors that got hurt so badly while making a movie that they actually needed surgery. In some cases, actors needed multiple surgeries followed by a lengthy rehabilitation period before they could return to work, let alone get back to their regular day-to-day activities. 

Here are a few of the worst accidents sustained on set and the medical procedures actors have needed to undergo in order to recover from them.

Daniel Craig

Though he seems to eventually have settled on being appreciative overall of the opportunity to play 007, Daniel Craig has occasionally been a little grumpy about playing James Bond and hasn't always been shy about saying so. To be fair, some of it was how much time the movies and their subsequent press cycles demanded, not to mention how many fewer other roles he was able to take during his time as Bond, which are both valid complaints. Still, one of the main reasons why Craig sometimes had mixed feelings about the role and attempted to walk away from it several times before finally deciding that "No Time to Die" would officially be his last Bond film is how rough playing the super spy has been on his body. 

In addition to just requiring a lot of demanding physicality over extended shooting schedules, Craig has also suffered multiple injuries during his time as 007, including one that delayed the production of his final outing. However, the one that actually led to Craig needing surgery happened while filming 2015's "Spectre" as the result of a knee sprain. Of course, the ever-professional Craig waited until an already scheduled break in production to have the arthroscopic surgery rather than doing it immediately and delaying the production. 

Blake Lively

Blake Lively deserves a lot of credit for making mostly interesting choices in terms of her movie career. She could've easily settled into rom-com cruise control or some similar path, but instead has decided to challenge herself and choose roles in indie movies, character-driven pieces, and otherwise slightly off-the-mainstream films. In 2020, she took on the lead in an action thriller called "The Rhythm Section" about a woman named Stephanie Patrick who takes revenge into her own hands after her family is killed in a plane crash caused by terrorists.

Though reviews for "The Rhythm Section" were overall on the negative side, Lively was lauded for her strong lead performance by many critics. It would be nice if Lively could get a better movie with which to showcase her skills as a compelling action lead — though given the injuries she sustained while filming "The Rhythm Section," we wouldn't blame her if she left the genre behind. During a fight scene with Jude Law, Lively's hand slammed into Law's elbow, with Lively saying that her hand "basically turned to feta cheese" as a result of the collision.  

Production of the movie was halted for six months as Lively had to have two different surgeries to repair the damage. 

Sylvester Stallone

Considering how many massive action movies he's made over the course of a career that spans six decades — not to mention how many of those movies he made when he was past the minimum age for AARP eligibility — it's surprising that Sylvester Stallone's most series movie-related surgery happened while filming a boxing movie when he was still in his 30s. 

Stallone, who did all of his own boxing scenes in the "Rocky" movies, ended up suffering a major tear in his pectoral muscle while filming one of the bouts in "Rocky II." As he described it, "I got all beat up inside, I had to have an operation to splice things back together." The injuries were so extensive and the recovery so painful — he had 160 stitches under his right arm from the surgery — that Stallone could barely throw punches, resulting in the need to shoot a lot of the big fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed in close-ups as Stallone was physically unable to take big swings. 

The reason for the big moment when Rocky switches back to his natural southpaw style to finish Creed off after having been leading with his right for much of the movie was because of this injury, although the movie explained it as Rocky needing to switch in order to help protect his detached retina. 

Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh is enjoying a well-deserved moment after starring in the highly acclaimed "Everything Everywhere All at Once." Beyond that, her performances were also well-received in recent films such as "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," while she has also been confirmed to be joining the "Avatar" franchise beginning with the third installment. However, the veteran actor has been prolific since the 1980s and has a number of classic films under her belt.

It's hard to pin down any single role as the "definitive" one in a career as long and storied as Yeoh's, but playing Yu Shu Lien in the Oscar-winning martial arts epic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a definite contender for that distinction. Yeoh herself would probably appreciate getting extra love for being in that movie given that she ended up needing surgery as a result of the hard work she put in on it. Yeho told Metro that it was "one of the most painful moviemaking experiences [she] had" as she ended up tearing her ACL during a rooftop running sequence. 

It was three months before she fully recovered – still filming during much of that time, with a brace hidden under her character's flowy pants – but did so just in time to be in fighting shape to film the movie's climactic final battle. 

Russell Crowe

Sometimes, an actor suffers an injury so severe that he ends up taking a whole movie down with him. In 2004, while doing preproduction work and training on a movie called "Flora Plum" – which was to be Jodie Foster's third directorial effort – Russell Crowe tore some tissue in his left shoulder that required surgery. Crowe ended up exiting the project entirely as a result of his injury and recovery, and though Foster attempted to re-cast the movie and get production started up again in fits and starts over the next few years, "Flora Plum" was subsequently shelved indefinitely. 

Unfortunately for Crowe, that wouldn't be the last time that his shoulder sent him to the hospital. While working on the sports biopic "Cinderella Man," the former Olympic boxer that Crowe was training with hit him in the elbow which ended up reaggravating Crowe's bad shoulder, which once again needed surgery to repair the damage. 

Paul Walker

In November of 2013, Paul Walker died from injuries sustained in a car crash. Though he was only 40 years old at the time, Walker had already built an impressive resume of acting roles that including not only one of the main leads of the megahit "Fast and Furious" franchise but also movies like "Pleasantville," "She's All That," "Joy Ride," and "Flags of Our Fathers." 

In the February before his death, Walker had expanded his list of talents to include parkour when he learned the sport to film the movie "Brick Mansions," which would go on to be one of three films released after his passing. While shooting "Brick Mansions," Walker was working through knee pain from surgery on a torn ACL that happened during the filming of "Fast & Furious 6," the second-to-last movie in the legendary franchise that Walker would appear in before his tragic accident.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron has long since established herself as a rough-and-tumble action star, with intense roles like "Mad Max: Fury Road," "Atomic Blonde," and "Hancock" being just a few examples of her prowess in the genre. She also doesn't shy away from really doing the work on such movies, as evidenced by how many times she's gotten hurt while doing a fight scene or stunt herself. While filming "Aeon Flux," Theron was nearly paralyzed after a backflip went wrong, with the actor saying, "I was a centimeter away from being completely paralyzed for the rest of my life."

However, that didn't scare Theron away from going hard and being physical in subsequent action movies, nor would it be the last time she suffered an injury on a movie set. Theron said she literally tore the ligament off a bone during a fight scene for Netflix's "The Old Guard," and then proceeded to walk around with the injury for several months before she finally decided to see a doctor about it. By the time the challenging shoot was finished, Theron needed three surgeries: one for the aforementioned thumb injury, plus one each for injuries to her elbow and knee. 

That's not all — the sequel, "The Old Guard 2," also proved to also be hard on Theron, with the actor needing shoulder surgery from a mishap during sword training for the 2023 film. 

Harrison Ford

Most actors go their entire careers without getting to play a role as iconic as Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford, on the other hand, got to be both of them – on top of also being Jack Ryan and Rick Deckard. The legendary actor also did a lot of his own stunts while playing those characters. It's safe to say that Ford's spot in the pantheon of action movie heroes is well secured, but it didn't happen without a few bumps in the road and on his body.

One of Ford's first major film-related injuries came during the making of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," when he tore an ACL while basically getting run over by a plane. He would later suffer another torn ACL while shooting 1993's "The Fugitive," for which he underwent knee surgery. Most recently, Han Solo's trusty Millennium Falcon turned on Ford when the hydraulics on one of its doors malfunctioned while filming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," crushing his leg. The injury was so severe that it required surgery, but reports say that the accident could've been much worse than it was — possibly even fatal. 

The fact that his "The Force Awakens" injury nor his previous Indy injuries didn't keep Ford from picking up the whip and donning the fedora one last time for 2023's "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny." The fact that Ford was willing to put his body through the strain of performing in these rigorous films — right up until his late-70s  — is a testament to his love of both that character and his career in general. 

Dylan O'Brien

Most signs point to "Maze Runner: The Death Cure," the third installment in the franchise, being the last movie for that series despite the fact that there are more than three "Maze Runner" books, which is likely disappointing for fans of both the movies and the novels. However, star Dylan O'Brien might not be terribly heartbroken over the idea of being done making "Maze Runner" movies considering how badly he was injured while making "The Death Cure." 

Stunts that involve motorized vehicles always carry an extra degree of risk, given how much more can go wrong when they are involved, and that's exactly what happened with O'Brien. While he was using a safety harness as he sat atop a vehicle, the harness was suddenly pulled to the ground and O'Brien along with it. That would've been bad enough, but he got a second dose of bad luck when he found himself in the path of a sliding motorcycle that hit him right in the face and head.

O'Brien subsequently needed facial reconstruction surgery, not only for aesthetic purposes but for him to be able to even regain basic functions. He also had brain trauma as a result of the accident. Remarkably, O'Brien not only recovered but has since returned to acting — including playing the nameless male lead in Taylor Swift's acclaimed 2021 "All Too Well" music video and short film — though he will have to have plates in his head for the rest of his life.

Brendan Fraser

After being a huge star in the 1990s and 2000s up to and including starring in the extremely popular "The Mummy" series of movies, Brendan Fraser took a major step back from acting going into the 2010s. He never really stopped appearing in film and on television, but he no longer seemed to be doing especially high-profile roles and definitely slowed down a bit. With his recent resurgence thanks to parts in "The Whale," "No Sudden Move," and "Doom Patrol," Fraser has been opening up a bit more about why he started keeping Hollywood at a distance.

It turns out that one of the big reasons was the extensive toll that his various action movies had put on his body, with things getting especially bad by the time he was making "The Mummy" films. Fraser talks about how many injuries he sustained and how much pain he was in over the course of the series, describing how badly his body had deteriorated by explaining, "I was put together with tape and ice, I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily." After years of trying to keep himself held together, it all eventually caught up with Fraser. He needed multiple surgeries to repair all the damage that had been done, one of which was a partial knee replacement.

It forced him to scale back on performing in action movies and instead shift focus on more character-driven work. Thankfully, this eventually resulted in huge raves and numerous nominations for his performance as Charlie in "The Whale."

Jackie Chan

There are entire lists dedicated just to the injuries Jackie Chan has sustained during his career and the surgeries he's had to undergo as a result of those injuries. That comes with the territory when you've been making intense martial arts movies in a career that spans an impressive six decades, and you did all of your own fighting and all of your own stunts for much of that career. So for this list, we'll just focus on the most serious injury Chan has ever had while making a movie, resulting in one of the most dangerous types of surgeries a person can have.

What's perhaps most interesting about this injury – sustained while filming "Armour of God" – is that it didn't happen while Chan was attempting one of his more risky or elaborate stunts. Rather, Chan needed literal brain surgery to have a piece of his own fractured skull removed from his brain after falling during a fairly unassuming jump between a wall and a tree branch. Unfortunately, the branch snapped, causing Chan to slip and fall head-first onto some rocks below.

Considering that "Armour of God" was released in 1986 — before Chan had even reached the peak of his popularity and years before he would fully break through to a global audience — it's pretty amazing that a potentially fatal brain injury didn't come anywhere close to slowing him down. He even went ahead and included the accident on the movie's blooper reel for good measure.