Top 10 Actor Injuries You ACTUALLY See in the Movie

Written by Zack Sims

The set can be hazardous for actors, and injuries are often common, but sometimes the take is too good to leave on the cutting room floor, so these are injuries that actors endured that actually made it into the film. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Actor Injuries that Really Made it in the Movie, but what will take the top spot on our list? Brad Pitt severing a tendon in Se7en, Leonardo DiCaprio's bloody hand in Django Unchained, or Viggo Mortenson breaking his toe in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers? Watch to find out!

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Ouch, that looked like it actually hurt. Wait, it did? Like, for reals? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 onscreen injuries that made it into the movie.

For this list, we’re focusing on movies where an actor was injured during filming, and either the take where the injury occurred was actually used in the final cut of a film OR the injury was somehow worked into the story. Just so you know, a SPOILER ALERT is probably in order.

#10: Choked a Bridget Out
“Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

In a tale of Nazi-killing basterds, things are bound to get dangerous – even for the actors involved. German movie star Bridget von Hammersmark, played by Diane Kruger, is actually a spy for the good guys – something that doesn’t go over too well with Christoph Waltz’s Nazi colonel Hans Landa. When “The Jew Hunter” confirms his theory, he lunges at Ms. von Hammersmark and chokes the life right out of her. It seems like Kruger’s acting here is on point, but the truth is she actually can’t breathe. Because of the scene’s importance, the danger involved and the fact that he had a very specific vision in mind, Quentin Tarantino himself strangled Kruger, with his hands used in the close-ups.

#9: Chip Off the Old Elbow
“Blade Runner” (1982)

She may be playing an android, but Daryl Hannah is still very much a human – a fact she proved on the set of “Blade Runner.” Hannah plays basic pleasure model, Pris, and in one scene she encounters genetic designer J.F. Sebastian in a rainy alleyway. She’s surprised and scared, so she bolts. But as she’s running away, she slips and breaks a car window. This was, in fact, not scripted: Hannah actually slipped on the wet pavement, and her arm actually went through a real glass window, but she managed to stay in character for the rest of the scene. That’s even more impressive when you find out she chipped her elbow in eight places.

#8: Smashing Mirrors
“Nightcrawler” (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal committed to the role of Lou Bloom, a criminal-turned-crimescene videographer. Bloom is not a quite right mentally, and it shows when his frustrations finally come to head in this scene: he’s lost out on an important story to a competitor, and he’s clearly stressed and angry. He takes that anger out on his bathroom mirror, screaming at it, shaking it, and eventually slamming it shut, breaking it. If the scene looks a bit TOO real, that’s because Gyllenhaal got really into it and smashed the mirror by accident, slicing through his thumb in the process. He apparently needed upwards of 40 stitches, but the shot of the mirror breaking was left in the final version of “Nightcrawler.”

#7: Death to Mirrors
“Apocalypse Now” (1979)

To introduce us to Captain Benjamin Willard, Martin Sheen shambles around his Saigon hotel room, drunk as a skunk. Sheen decided to go very “method” with this one, which is a fancy way of saying he was actually drunk when they filmed the scene. That’s probably why he thought it’d be a good idea for him to punch a mirror. Of course, as this list proves, it’s hard to break a mirror and not cut yourself, and Sheen indeed did slice open his hand in the process. But he kept going, rolling over his bed and smearing his blood all over the sheets and his face, and ultimately ending the scene bloody, drunk, naked and sobbing.

#6: Extreme Head Banging
“Foxcatcher” (2014)

When he was playing Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, Channing Tatum tried to be as authentic as possible, and in this case that meant destroying a mirror with his face. By this point in the film, Schultz is feeling the mental strain. After losing an important match, he paces around his hotel room, hitting himself angrily and crying. The most intense moment comes when he stands in front of a mirror and proceeds to smash it with his head three times, shattering it and cutting his forehead in the process. Though he was actually bleeding and came within inches of hitting a stud in the wall, Tatum finished the scene beautifully – and he claims not to remember filming this at all.

#5: Knocked Out
“The Princess Bride” (1987)

“The Princess Bride” is a fantastical fairytale filled with swashbuckling pirates, six-fingered men and – of course – princesses. At one point, Princess Buttercup and her true love Westley are confronted by the dastardly Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen, and Cary Elwes’ Westley is ultimately captured. To make sure their new prisoner is compliant, Christopher Guest’s Rugen – aka the six-fingered man – hits him in the head with the butt of a sword and knocks him out. According to Elwes, there were no rubber swords on-hand, and they couldn’t get a good take by faking it, so Guest actually hit him and actually knocked him out. Elwes woke up later in the hospital, wondering what the heck had happened.

#4: Cracked Rib
“First Blood” (1982)

In movie badass John Rambo’s first outing, our titular protagonist – played by Sylvester Stallone – is being pursued by the abusive Hope, Washington police department. The chase eventually leads to a cliff, where Rambo is hanging on for dear life, about to be shot at by a cop in a helicopter. With no other options, Rambo takes a blind leap, tumbles through the trees, and lands on a tree branch. Being the professional action star he is, Stallone performed this stunt himself; however, things didn’t quite as go planned. The painful scream you hear when he lands is not acting. When all was said and done, Sly walked away with a cracked rib but an amazing stunt performance.

#3: Severed Tendon
“SE7EN” (1995)

The rain claims another victim. While filming a chase scene for this David Fincher thriller, Brad Pitt ran through perpetually wet streets in pursuit of a killer who’s murdering based on the seven deadly sins. Unfortunately, during one take, Pitt slipped on a rainy car hood and jammed his arm through a window, severing a tendon. Pitt required stitches, and was left in a cast. However, instead of halting production, his injury was actually written into the script: in the scene where Pitt’s character chases John Doe, his character falls off a ladder and breaks his arm. To film the scenes taking place before this point in the movie, Pitt simply had to hide his cast from the cameras.

#2: Bloody Hand
“Django Unchained” (2012)

Here’s another Tarantino movie, but this time the director didn’t personally injure his star. In “Django Unchained,” Leonardo DiCaprio plays a psychotic slave owner who’s hosting a dinner for Django, played by Jamie Foxx, and Dr. Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz. During the meal, DiCaprio’s character unnervingly reveals his knowledge of Django’s plan to free his wife – and as you can imagine, this makes him mighty angry. So angry, in fact, that DiCaprio slams his hand on the table, breaking a glass and slicing his skin in the process. Pretty soon, the audience can see that DiCaprio’s hand is completely covered in blood. But like a true thespian, he gives an amazing performance and uses his injury to his advantage.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- When Tom Cruise dismounted, his horse kicked an extra in the genitals
“The Last Samurai” (2003)

- When Michael J. Fox was hanged, he was briefly rendered unconscious by accident
“Back to the Future Part III” (1990)

- When James Caan threw Gianni Russo into the garbage can, Russo allegedly broke two ribs and cracked his elbow
“The Godfather” (1972)

#1: Stupid Helmet
“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002)

In the second “Lord of the Rings” film, Viggo Mortensen returns as Aragorn with a performance as powerful, emotional and raw as that in “The Fellowship of the Ring.” One of his most visceral scenes comes at the beginning of the film: angry at the thought that his hobbit friends might be dead, a rage-filled Aragorn kicks a helmet on the ground. After doing four takes of this shot, Viggo broke two toes on his fifth take, meaning that scream heard in the finished film is very real. Even so, Viggo kept working, and director Peter Jackson said he didn’t even realize his star was injured until much later – he just thought Viggo had given it his all.

Do you agree with our list? Which on-screen injury do you think was the worst? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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