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The Most Awkward Things To Ever Happen On Set

A film or television set can be a hectic, crazy place, where an enormous team of cast and crew members work to create a story viewers will love, whether it's fantastical and out of this world or serious and grounded in reality. From larger-than-life costumes to full-body makeup to complicated set pieces, there are a ton of different variables on any given set to keep track of and an enormous number of constantly moving parts. It's a complex process that leaves plenty of room for screw-ups and amusing diversions, no matter how big or small those might be.

Plenty of weird things have happened on set, and since these stories typically make for perfect late night talk show fodder, actors are often more than happy to share their strangest stories with the world. From makeup mishaps to devious pranks to flat-out injuries, here are some of the most awkward things to ever happen on set, whether for the big or small screen.

A random man wanders on screen during Blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks is responsible for some of the best comedies in American film history, and one of his most beloved works is 1974's Blazing Saddles, his Western parody starring Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Madeline Kahn, and Dom DeLuise, among other comedy legends. While playing itself as a standard Western, the film skewered racism and peppered purposeful anachronisms throughout, including references to pop culture that would never have existed in the Wild West. The film has become a legend, earning a place on the National Film Registry, among other accolades.

The final scene of the film is the one that ultimately knocks down the fourth wall, with Sheriff Bart (Little) and the Waco Kid (Wilder) involved in a chase culminating on the backlot of the Warner Bros. studio in California. As the entire cast runs through the gates, one extra noticeably doesn't turn the same direction as the rest of the mob. Turns out that this one man wandered onto the lot during filming, not realizing that he was in the middle of a major film shoot, and was a completely unexpected extra who was never supposed to be in the film in the first place and didn't understand that he was supposed to leave. Not wanting to ruin the shot, Brooks simply asked the man to sign a waiver agreeing to be in the film, allowing him to stay. It certainly made for an odd finale.

Bryan Cranston gets chatty in the nude

Best known for his career-making role on AMC's critical and commercial hit Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston followed up his stint as Walter White with a number of prestige dramas. Among them was Trumbo, a biopic focusing on famous Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (who penned scripts for Roman Holiday and Spartacus, among others). Co-starring Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, and John Goodman, among others, the film tells the story of Trumbo's involvement with the Communist Party. It eventually earned Cranston an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Cranston was required to film a fair amount of nude scenes for Trumbo, including ones where he waits to be booked in prison during the Red Scare. In an attempt to make the entire experience slightly less weird, Cranston would try to strike up a random conversation about football or any other topic that crossed his mind, which wasn't exactly greeted with enthusiasm by the cast or crew. Even though this was just Cranston's way of trying to break the tension, it could have been worse — he used to play pranks with NSFW toys during the filming of Breaking Bad — but it still made for a pretty uncomfortable filming experience for anyone else involved.

Tony Hale hits on James van der Beek

Best known for his roles as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development and Gary on Veep, Tony Hale has become a comedy icon in Hollywood, making his mark playing dependent, awkward characters who bowed down to more powerful women (whether that was the matriarch of the Bluth family, Lucille, or Selina Meyer, the President of the United States). However, he wasn't always a star, and Hale had to get his start somewhere. His first role was a bit part on Dawson's Creek, the seminal teen primetime soap.

Hale was cast a doctor on the Virginia set of Dawson's Creek — since he hadn't yet moved to New York, it was the nearest (and only) available opportunity. Once he got on set, he didn't exactly play it cool. Since it was his first ever TV job ever, Hale was understandably nervous, and when he saw James van der Beek wearing an extraordinarily heavy coat, he told the young star that he "looked hot" — and even though he meant overheated rather than anything untoward, he walked away from the situation rather than explain, leaving a pretty awkward silence behind.

Zach Galifianakis hazed the crew

Comedy star Zach Galifianakis has certainly made a career out of being a bit, well, odd. From his lone wolf character Alan in The Hangover to his original and horrifically awkward web series, Between Two Ferns, Galifianakis' trademark attitude is to refuse to fit in and loudly stand out in the weirdest possible way. This also, apparently, extends to his attitude on certain sets, where, when he didn't love the material, he acted out as much as he could.

Before he became a film star, Galifianakis had to settle for television roles. In his longest-running role on the Eliza Dushku drama Tru Calling, he made it his personal goal to get fired from the show. Between telling Dushku that she was getting fat or actively insulting a script to the writer's face, Galifianakis essentially hazed the cast and crew, making the entire experience unpleasant. He got his wish — the show was eventually canceled — but he still made sure that everyone involved had the worst possible time while they were at work and that they all felt completely uncomfortable. 

Lest anyone think this behavior was reserved for projects he disliked, Galifianakis gave his friends the same treatment. When Hangover co-star Bradley Cooper told Galifianakis that he and his girlfriend had recently split up, Galifianakis asked if the now ex-girlfriend had seen his recent film, Limitless.

Liam Hemsworth made Jennifer Lawrence pee

The Hunger Games franchise told the dark and dystopian story of children pitted against each other in a merciless arena where only one would survive. The movies made stars out of their three lead actors, Jennifer Lawrence (already an Oscar nominee), Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth (Thor's younger brother), as they appeared alongside huge stars like Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, and Woody Harrelson. These three young stars formed a sense of camaraderie that drove them to play good-natured pranks on each other... but some may have gone too far.

While shooting the climactic action of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, Hemsworth came up with a fairly foolproof plan to break the tension. During a break in filming, he put a fake dead body in Lawrence's trailer, waiting for her to stumble upon it when she returned. When she did, she promptly peed in her pants, much to Hemsworth's delight. Though he deemed the prank a "success," Lawrence was quick to add that she got him right back by kicking him in the head and giving him a concussion, so it seems as if the two unwittingly worked together to create a pretty awkward situation for themselves and everyone else on set.

Simon Pegg's "neutron cream"

J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies starring Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, and Simon Pegg have been huge hits, with the first one premiering in 2009. After the inaugural reboot grossed nearly $400 million in total, a sequel was quickly ordered with the same cast, and with a famously comedic actor like Simon Pegg (who was best known for Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), there was sure to be plenty of pranks on set.

During the filming of the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, Pegg apparently decided to convince a few of his co-stars that the conditions on set weren't entirely safe, and told both Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch that they were endangering their health by exposing themselves to ionic beams emitted by lasers. In order to protect against the lasers, he told them they would have to wear "neutron cream." Not only did Pegg get his costars to apply the stuff (which he had people create as a prop), he got his costars to constantly wave their fingers around to stave off any negative effects from the lasers. He even got Cumberbatch to sign a joke waiver, which the Sherlock star clearly didn't read. 

In the end, Cumberbatch and Pine realized they'd been hoodwinked. Luckily, they were friendly enough with Pegg to take a joke, but certainly, forcing fake face cream on his fellow actors created a pretty weird atmosphere on set.

Cary Elwes' head injury

Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride is famously beloved — in 2016, the film was inducted into the National Film Registry, and it has found a place on numerous best-of lists throughout the years. A story within a story where a grandfather (Peter Falk) reads a book his sick grandson (Fred Savage), audiences fell in love with the tale of Westley (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright, in her first film role). The star-crossed pair of lovers kept apart by fate must find each other despite numerous obstacles, including enormous rodents, an evil prince, a torture chamber, and Wallace Shawn.

Elwes wrote an entire book, As You Wish, about his amazing experiences working on the film. Even though he loved the process, he revealed that he found himself in danger quite a lot. When Christopher Guest (who played the villainous Count Rugen) was supposed to "hit" Elwes over the head with a heavy sword, he really did, knocking Elwes out entirely. The next thing Elwes recalls is waking up in the hospital. Despite risking his own life once, he still insisted on doing several of his own stunts, including a headfirst dive into fake quicksand that could have easily broken his neck if it had gone awry. Elwes clearly had a propensity for dangerous situations, but the film came out perfectly and left the cast and crew with plenty of stories, ranging from hilarious to awkward.

Emily Blunt's dance skills

British actress Emily Blunt, who became a household name after her breakout performance in The Devil Wears Prada, is known for having an incredibly wide skill set when it comes to her acting abilities. Beyond being able to handle razor-sharp comedy and drama in equal measure, Blunt has shown off her singing and dancing chops in several films, including a turn as the Baker's Wife (a leading role) in the film adaptation of Into the Woods, the iconic title character in 2018's Mary Poppins Returns, and more, including numerous tongue-in-cheek appearances on Lip Sync Battle.

However, not all of her dance roles have gone so smoothly. In 2011, despite her lack of formal dance training, she strapped on a pair of pointe shoes to star opposite Matt Damon in the well-received thriller The Adjustment Bureau as Elise, a professional contemporary dancer who becomes romantically involved with Damon's character. During a conversation with Jennifer Aniston as a part of Variety's "Actors on Actors" series, Blunt admitted that during her big dance scene in Bureau, she fell rather spectacularly. Due to how serious and quiet the scene is in the film, it was certainly all the more awkward and humiliating to completely wipe out, especially while Blunt was trying to prove that she could hold her own as a dancer.

Emilia Clarke got stuck to a toilet

HBO's massive hit show Game of Thrones, which is entering its final season in 2019, has long had one of the most complicated and grandiose filming processes in television, with shooting locations spread across several countries and continents. While part of the cast would be stationed in Northern Ireland, another group would be shooting in Croatia, making for a pretty complex setup — and beyond the far-flung locations, the costumes, props, and CGI that go into making the show aren't exactly simple either.

Star Emilia Clarke, who plays heiress to the Iron Throne Daenerys Targaryen, has found this out the hard way, as her character is often, for one reason or another, covered in blood. During one break in filming when she was completely nude and covered in sticky fake blood, Clarke needed to use the restroom, only to discover that she then couldn't return to the set because she was essentially glued to the toilet. While filming the same scene, she had to keep eating a fake horse's heart which was also covered in fake blood. She didn't fare any better with that attempt, as the huge, gummy heart kept making her sick. Game of Thrones might be the biggest show on television, but as its stars will tell you, it isn't always particularly glamorous behind the scenes.

Evan Peters flashed his co-stars

Anyone who's watched American Horror Story knows that there's bound to be some odd on-set stories, considering that the finished product is pretty wild in and of itself. Each season of the anthology dials up the campy horror factor even more than the last, and with themes like an insane asylum, a haunted murder house, a freak show, a creepy hotel, and even the apocalypse itself, it's not exactly out of the question that there would be some weird moments during filming, from amusing to humiliating.

Evan Peters, who has appeared on every season of the show so far, certainly experienced the latter. In 2012, he donned a straightjacket to play Kit Walker, a young man forced into the second season's titular Asylum for being in an interracial relationship, and the role required a fair amount of nudity. Dressed in a hospital gown and one strategically-placed sock, he assumed he was relatively covered and bent over in front of co-stars Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson, inadvertently giving them a full glimpse of everything under the gown. Peters called it "mortifying," but the at least two veteran actresses handled it with aplomb — Paulson even kissed him on the cheek in an attempt to make him feel less embarrassed, although that likely didn't help much.

Harry Potter and the Fart Machine

The Harry Potter film franchise, spanning a decade and boasting an enormous cast made up of young actors and seasoned professionals alike, was bound to inspire some on-set hijinks. However, an unlikely candidate for the biggest prankster was the late Alan Rickman, who, despite playing the surly (and often cruel) Hogwarts professor Severus Snape, was known throughout filming as a kind, funny, and generous person, especially when it came to the younger actors.

During filming on the saga's third installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Rickman and co-star Michael Gambon (who played the wise headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore) teamed up to sneak a fart machine into Daniel Radcliffe's sleeping bag for a scene in which the students take overnight refuge in the castle's great hall. At the end of every take, Rickman would set off the fart machine, completely humiliating Radcliffe, especially since he had asked that his sleeping bag be placed near a girl he liked

Since the shot was particularly quiet and dramatic, it had maximum embarrassment impact. As Radcliffe recalled during a 2014 Reddit AMA, he thought it was just another kid on the set messing around, but it was actually a "member of Britain's acting royalty" who was pulling the most juvenile prank possible. Rickman will be fondly remembered by movie fans the world over, but let nobody forget that he had a fairly wicked sense of humor.

The Favourite's "sexy" sponge

2018's The Favourite, a historical comedic drama about the troubled and sickly Queen Anne of England from the mind of auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, quickly won over audiences and critics alike thanks to its witty script, its inspired direction, and its three lead performances — playing alongside Golden Globe winner Olivia Colman as the queen, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are flawless as Abigail and Sarah, two women vying for the monarch's undying affection. The three clearly formed a close bond befitting their characters, but that didn't stop Colman from making sure Stone ended up with an unpleasant surprise during an extremely intimate scene.

During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Colman admitted that, unbeknownst to Stone, she asked her makeup artist to give her a "damp sponge" to put between her legs for her first sex scene with the younger actress, which she also told Vogue that she thought would be "funny" for Stone to find. Colman's prank clearly worked, as she specifically mentioned the "look of horror" on Stone's face, which, though not exactly right for the scene, definitely created a pretty weird moment onset during an already tense and tricky part of the film.