When you watch a movie, you immediately feel something, whether it is sadness, joy, or shock. But what if we told you that real life could be much more shocking? You never really know what goes on behind the scenes and what your favorite actors and actresses go through once the cameras stop rolling. Some of the biggest movies ever made involved huge scandals people had never heard about, and we have a strong feeling that the people involved wouldn't want you ever to hear about them, too. If you're prepared to uncover the film industry's dark and sinister secrets, read on.
The Stuntman on Shark! Was Actually Killed by a Shark
Burt Reynolds was a pop culture icon of the 1970s and was on his way to making a masterpiece. The film Shark! was supposed to be the most famous shark movie before Jaws was even a thing. That was all until things took a wild turn while filming. One of the stunt performers was attacked by a shark while filming a scene and suffered severe injuries resulting in him losing his life.
Fans had no idea they witnessed an actual attack when the promotional images were released and used the real incident rather than the staged one.
The Main Hairstylist on Romeo + Juliet Was Kidnapped by a Gang
Romeo + Juliet is a modern-day version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and is undoubtedly a dramatic film filled with love, lust, and heartbreak. But no one could've imagined behind-the-scenes it was just as dramatic. The cast and crew were in for a huge shocker when it was revealed that their lead hairstylist was in a life-threatening situation. Aldo Signoretti was kidnapped during production and held for ransom. After they received $300, they released Aldo by throwing him out of a car.
He broke his leg but returned safe and sound, though slightly traumatized—what a production of a lifetime that they surely will never forget.
Robert Downey Jr. Hid Jars of Pee Around the Set of Zodiac
While making the film Zodiac, tension could be felt in the air. The long hours endlessly spent on set would understandably tire anyone out. But how someone reacts says more about them than the filming conditions. Robert Downey Jr. had a secret that soon came to light. He reportedly had no breaks or time to use the bathroom while filming, so he would pee in jars and leave them around the set. Was it out of protest or desperation?
Some say the disgusting jars of pee were inevitable because of the grueling filming conditions, while others, including the film's director, would say it was purely an act of spite.
Shelly Duvall Was Bullied Throughout the Production of The Shining
The set of The Shining has developed quite a bad reputation for being intense because of how demanding Stanley Kubrick was. But it wasn't widely known that Shelly Duvall took the brunt of it and was constantly ridiculed to ensure she remained traumatized for her scenes. Some of Kubrick's harsh words were caught in various clips taken of them while they weren't shooting. By the movie's end, she had a hoarse throat, wounded hands, and severe dehydration.
Though Kubrick consistently berated Shelly, saying she was wasting everyone's time on set and wasn't good enough, her performance remains iconic.
Brendan Fraser Almost Accidentally Hung Himself While Doing a Stunt on The Mummy
The Mummy was a blockbuster hit of the 90s, leading Brendan Fraser's face to become synonymous with archaeological evacuations and evil mummies. He was committed to giving his all to this role and even performed his own stunts. In one scene, his character gets hanged, and he wanted to replicate it as accurately as possible. Fans had no idea they were watching him use a noose around his neck, nearly hanging himself and choking himself until he passed out.
This intense dedication to filmmaking and playing his character well could've killed him. Thankfully he was revived, and the movie was a highlight of his career.
Martin Sheen Had a Heart Attack While Filming Apocalypse Now
Martin Sheen is known for some of his roles in The Subject Was Roses, Badlands, and The West Wing. Though he is a strong and recognizable actor to this day, in the late 70s, when he landed his role in Apocalypse Now, he could've never known what he was about to face. In fact, fans had no idea about the mental and physical challenges he was put through to get into character, which caused him to have a nervous breakdown and a heart attack.
After this experience, you would assume Martin would stay far away from acting forever. But he didn't let this experience taint him and continued his acting career.
The Tinman From The Wizard of Oz Had to Get Surgery
Old Hollywood had very different standards for its safety regulations and movie-making methods. The many concerning incidents during the filming of The Wizard of Oz prove this to be true. But people had no idea how badly Jack Haley, who played the Tinman, was actually impacted. The special effects and makeup weren't advanced as they are today, so aluminum paste was used to achieve his metallic look, resulting in severe infections.
The toxicity of the aluminum paste eventually caused Jack to be hospitalized for a serious eye infection that, unfortunately, required him to undergo surgery.
Isla Fisher Almost Drowned During a Stunt for Now You See Me
A thrilling movie full of suspense and magic, Now You See Me was one of a kind. Isla Fisher starred in this film and had high hopes for its turnout; little did she know she would almost drown to death. She performed a stunt that required being tied with chains in a large water tank. However, she was losing breath and wanted to press the panic button but couldn't reach it because the chains were tangled.
She almost drowned, and no one noticed, but luckily she managed to untangle herself just in time. What ended up being a near-death experience turned into a lesson proving her strength.
West Side Story Infamously Used Brownface on the Puerto Rican Characters
West Side Story took the world by surprise and instantly became a classic. Although people like to focus on the catchy songs, impressive choreography, and captivating performances, there's a much darker side to the making of this film. Most people don't know that despite not having Puerto Rican heritage, Natalie Wood was cast as a Latina. Though Rita Moreno was Puerto Rican, she was considered not tan enough. So both actresses were given heavy brown face paint to play up their parts.
This is a reminder of Hollywood's disturbing racist past and disregard for cultural sensitivities.
The Munchkins on The Wizard of Oz Were Paid Less Than the Dog
Unsurprisingly, those on The Wizard of Oz set endured severe side effects from makeup, set pieces, and the use of asbestos. But who knew even their paychecks were affected? The dog, Toto, used throughout the film, was considered a paid actor and received a hefty check. But it was little known that the actors who played the munchkins were paid much less! Since there were no unions to protect actors' rights, their agents took most of their pay.
They complained about their treatment while filming, but no one listened, and they were officially ranked the lowest-paid cast members.
Hattie McDaniel From Gone With the Wind Couldn't Attend the Film's Premiere
Gone with the Wind is one of the most respected historical novels and films that was ahead of its time. Though when the film hit theatres, a huge problem arose. Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar for her role in this film, couldn't attend the premiere because it was held at a whites-only theater. But fans weren't made aware she didn't attend because of racial segregation.
What a sad and disheartening truth of America's past. Despite using her talents and skills for the big-screen, off-screen, she was still seen as different.
Debbie Reynolds Was Bullied by Her Singin' in the Rain Co-Star Until She Cried
Singin' in the Rain is a classic 1950s cinematic masterpiece starring Debbie Reynolds. She was a breath of fresh air and though this was the most endearing film, the day-to-day on set wasn't as lighthearted. She wasn't exactly gifted in dancing, and her co-star Gene Kelly made that apparent. But the real secret was he would criticize her at every moment, and eventually, she broke down from his harsh words. Thankfully someone else noticed and came to her rescue.
Fred Astaire encouraged Debbie not to give up, validating her difficulty with dancing, and even offered to help her practice. Eventually, her hard work paid off.
Jamie Foxx Glued His Eyes Shut to Play the Role of Ray Charles in Ray
Ray Charles is a legendary musician that changed the course of music not only in the United States but internationally. He pioneered music with his incredible jazz, blues, and soul blend. So when the time came to produce a movie all about him, Jamie Foxx jumped at the opportunity and was ready for the challenge. But little did fans know he was so committed to portraying Ray authentically that he had his eyes glued shut while filming for sometimes 14 hours a day.
Many wondered why he didn't just wear sunglasses, keep his closed, or wear opaque contact lenses. But that would've been too easy for him as he wanted a raw performance.
Poltergeist Used Real Human Skeletons Without the Cast Knowing
A classic 80s horror movie, Poltergeist creepily follows the story of a young girl tormented by ghosts and demons. It's filled with horrifying visuals, including a scene where Margaret JoBeth Williams can be seen swimming around in a pool of thick mud and goop when suddenly skeletons ooze out, and she rightfully freaks out. But what's more frightening than that scene? Behind the cameras, it was revealed that the skeletons weren't exactly props but real skeletons of deceased people.
The cherry on top of this ordeal is that the cast members didn't know real skeletons were used while filming the movie until after the filming wrapped.
Three People Were Killed On-Set of Twilight Zone: The Movie
Twilight Zone: The Movie was another sci-fi creation produced by Steven Spielberg that sent audiences into a vortex of contemplation and confusion. While the film itself was eerie, the behind-the-scenes was even more sinister. The production was filming a final scene that included a helicopter, but things took a gruesome turn when it crashed and killed actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, only six and seven years old.
It was a disturbing and depressing day in film history, yet they still went on to release the film.
Jim Carrey Went Through Anti-Torture Training for How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey never fails to amaze his fans when he takes on a project; his dedication to his craft is noticeable. This especially rang true for his part in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. People had no idea until now how he prepared for this intense role. He underwent eight and half hours of makeup and prosthetics that felt torturous, as if he was being buried alive, unable to move his face.
In order for Jim to make it through filming every day, he was trained by a CIA specialist on how to survive and endure torture.
The Entire Cast of Titanic Allegedly Got High on Very Illegal Substances
Fans had no idea what happened behind closed doors on one of the last days of filming for Titanic. The cast and crew sat together for a catered meal when those who ate the food suddenly started feeling ill and extraordinarily high. They realized their dinner had been spiked, and people began freaking out. It was later suspected to be spiked with PCP, and everyone had to be rushed to the hospital for the night.
Eventually, everyone recovered and returned to working on the film despite the jarring experience. Who would've known this classic film had such a bizarre secret?
Ryan Gosling Tried to Get Rachel McAdams Kicked off of The Notebook
The Notebook is one of the most touching love stories ever. Anyone who begins watching this film is immediately invested, and it's impossible to walk away without sobbing. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams gave incredible performances that really shaped their careers. But did you know all that love was completely fake? Not just because they're actors but because they genuinely despised each other in real life. They constantly fought and didn't get along at all.
This almost proves how great of actors they are because this movie remains a great love story. How could they possibly look so in love on-screen yet be enemies behind the scenes?
Cary Elwes Was Knocked on On-Set of The Princess Bride
While on-set filming for The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes had a scene in which he was hit with a sword but was having trouble with his timing and reaction appearing realistic. He vowed with his co-star that the sword would actually touch him so he could adequately convey a reaction. But the secret was the sword struck down so hard on his head that it gashed open, and he had to go to the hospital immediately.
Cary only remembers waking up in the hospital as he was completely knocked out, but as soon as he healed, he was back on set, ready to work.
Three People Were Killed During the Flood Scene of Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark was an epic film released almost a century ago. The level of production and movie-making resources was nowhere as advanced as it is today. This is precisely why things went so wrong in the creation of this film. Over 600,000 gallons or 2,271,247 liters of water were used for the big flood scene. But fans watching didn't know this flood crashed over many actors so hard that it injured and killed many.
They unintentionally created a real flood that killed three people in what was a very traumatizing and devastating moment in movie history.
The Crew Threw Live Birds at Tippi Hedren in The Birds
Alfred Hitchcock was a master of horror, and that's precisely what he delivered when he made the film, The Birds. Tippi Hedren revealed a secret when they made the film. it almost felt like abuse. There were times so intense that she didn't know how to continue. They used live birds throughout the movie that were tied to her costume, pecked at her, and even thrown at her for days. It was a heartbreaking thing to witness.
The lengths people go to for filmmaking can be either genius or ridiculous, but this experience, in particular, doesn't sound very comforting.
Stanley Kubrick Destroyed Almost All Props From 2001: A Space Odyssey
It's no surprise that Stanley Kubrick was a film-making genius, but he had odd tendencies. After he finished a movie, he usually opted to destroy everything connected to it to prevent people from selling the items for their gain. So when the film 2001: A Space Odyssey wrapped, there were hardly any props left to revive but the spaceship. Little did fans know, it was bought to be displayed in a museum as cinematic history.
The spaceship prop was worth over 300 thousand dollars, and people are thankful a part of movie history could be preserved.
Tony Todd Was Stung by Live Bees While Filming Candyman
Candyman was a film that haunted its viewers. Tony Todd played the original Candyman and was dedicated to his craft. In one particular scene where he was covered in bees, you would expect they were fake props or somehow photoshopped in later. But shockingly enough, they were completely real. He could even negotiate a deal to acquire $1,000 for each sting he received. Do you know how much extra money he walked away with?
Tony got stung twenty-three times, resulting in an extra paycheck of $23,000. Some would say that's insane but considering that bonus, maybe he's just a genius.
Jack Nicholson Pulled Out a Gun on Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson are some of the most well-versed actors the film industry has seen. They put their skills together on the big screen when they starred in The Departed. In one heated scene, Jack decided to go off-script, and what could be so wrong with that? Well, he pulled a real loaded gun on Leo in the middle of a scene. Besides being incredibly dangerous, it caught Leo off guard.
Leo's terrified reaction was utterly genuine, and they decided to keep the cameras rolling, keeping this scene in the movie. It's unclear if the director knew about Jack's move beforehand or not.
An Extra in The Exorcist Was a Murderer in Real Life
The Exorcist was a scary movie for more than one reason. The film material was disturbing because it was about demonic entities, and the cast and crew's experience during filming was also eerie. Some would later say that the set was cursed. Several people associated with the film died during and after its release. Later it also came out that an extra on set, Paul Bateson, was convicted of murder and arrested afterward.
It would be shocking to learn that a fellow actor you did scenes with was actually capable of murder. Unfortunately, this was the case for many associated with this movie.
Swearing Was Out of Control on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a film filled with mythical creatures and talking animals. Some of the leading roles were filled by young kids, so the cast and crew wanted to ensure they made a comfortable and safe space on set. That required the adults to watch how they spoke and try not to curse! No one wanted to be a bad influence on the younger castmates.
However, it was so difficult they created a swear jar that the actors would fill with cash every time a curse word slipped from their mouth.
Sean Astin Was Flown to the Hospital While Shooting The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a series adapted from iconic books with millions of fans. Much effort when into bringing these stories to life and creating a set that mimicked the stories. Sean Astin had a significant role in this and was dedicated to embodying his character. In several scenes, he walked barefoot, but many scattered materials were on the ground. Unfortunately, that meant he stepped on a big piece of glass.
He had to be flown to the hospital because of how badly he cut his foot. It was probably not the most fun day in his career.
The Cast of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Became Violently Sick
An absolutely gruesome film was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And what could be more gruesome than the storyline of this movie? The way it was made! The cast fell ill during filming because of how hot it was and because the set was full of real animal corpses and bones. It created a musty and vile atmosphere that made many people nauseous and physically sick in between all of the takes.
This sounds like quite a terrifying mix. It was a recipe for disaster because there were loads of blood, gore, Texas heat, animal corpses, and long working hours.
Lucy Liu and Bill Murray of Charlie's Angels Were Involved in an Altercation
A riveting movie filled with action, a great soundtrack, and powerful women, Charlie's Angels was a hit. On-screen, everyone looked super close and friendly, but when the cameras stopped running, things were very different. Lucy Liu and Bill Murray couldn't get along, and one day he began hurling insults at her. People expected her to take it and say nothing because of his level of fame, but Lucy wouldn't let it slide.
She spoke up for herself and made it clear Bill's bad moods and hurtful words would not be okay around her. Lucy remained professional though she was automatically painted as the problem.
The Director of Cannibal Holocaust Was Arrested for Murder
Cannibal Holocaust was one of those films that felt so real it genuinely terrified you. But what made it worse? The actors had to sign a contract saying they would disappear for an entire year after the film’s release to make it seem like they really were killed. But this backfired when people believed the director actually killed them. He was arrested for murder and had to contact the actors to prove it was fake.
The actors broke the contract to show they were, indeed, alive and well. However, the movie was still banned in several countries and remains one of the most disturbing stories ever.
Joe Pesci Bit Macaulay Culkin's Finger on Set of Home Alone
Everyone remembers the movie Home Alone for its entertaining storyline and the young Macaulay Culkin's performance. Culkin once shared that in one scene, he was hung on a door and his co-star, Joe Pesci, said he would bite his fingers. Then, he actually did! He broke the skin and even caused a scar that Culkin has to this day. It was a scary and angering moment for him, then only around ten years old.
It's unclear why Joe felt the need to really bite him, but he did anyway. Quite weird for a grown man to do, even if it is acting.
Brandon Lee Was Killed While Making The Crow
Brandon Lee was the son of the martial-arts star Bruce Lee and starred in the movie, The Crow. Though while making the movie, he was killed in a tragic event that would traumatize everyone involved. During one of the scenes, a co-star shot what was supposed to be a prop gun at him, but it turned out to have a real bullet. He died from the wounds, and his co-star stopped acting that year.
Safety precautions must be taken and triple-checked when filming violence and weapons scenes. Hopefully, today people will take more caution so these tragedies don't occur.
People Were Struck by Lightning On The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ was known throughout Hollywood to be a problematic and controversial film, unsurprisingly, since it is Mel Gibson's work. While filming this movie, very bizarre natural disasters gave it an eerie reputation. Jim Caviezel, who played no other than Jesus, was struck by lightning while on set. Another cast member walked near him and then got struck, also. This will be a movie they will never forget filming.
It is almost biblical that members of this film got struck by lightning, or maybe it was just a coincidence. Either way, it is almost hard to believe.
Bill Murray Was Bitten by a Groundhog Twice in Groundhog Day
Though many think this movie is one of the best comedies of all time, things were very serious when the cameras weren't rolling. While filming for the movie Groundhog Day, he had to work with real animals and, in one scene in particular, was bitten twice by no other than a groundhog. Bill Murray's experience was ironic, to say the least, and the bite was so bad he had to get rabies injections.
Next time you watch this movie, pay close attention to the groundhog. In many scenes, it was genuinely agitated and not just acting; it is an animal, after all.
The Director of The Ten Commandments Had a Heart Attack and Nearly Died
A film attempting to tell some of the most well-known stories of the Bible, The Ten Commandments, was an intense production. It pushed the cast and crew to extremes, requiring long hours and hard work. That's precisely what the director Cecil B. DeMille was doing until it became too much, and he suddenly experienced a heart attack while on set. Though he was dedicated to the film, returning only two days later.
That's a terrifying thing to experience, and proof of just how stressed and overwhelmed they were while creating that film.
This Austin Powers Actor Was Convicted of Voluntary Manslaughter
When people think about the movie Austin Powers, they most likely don't think about one of the evil henchmen played by Joe Son. But he had a disturbing and dark secret that revealed maybe he was more similar to his character than one would think. He was already arrested and serving a sentence on torture charges when he beat his cellmate to death and was then sentenced to life in prison.
The details are so disturbing it would be best not to explicitly write them but know this is a story those associated with Austin Powers would want to be hidden forever.
A Family of Rabbits Were Accidentally Killed on Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket is another one of Stanley Kubrick's most action-packed films. He certainly is no stranger to disasters while filming. During a battle scene, they set off an explosion that unintentionally killed an entire family of rabbits. The experience was jarring for everyone around. It made the atmosphere tense and sad. In fact, Kubrick was so disturbed by the accident that he shut down production for the rest of the day.
Of course, this is a terrible thing to experience on set. While watching the film, you would've never guessed this sort of thing happened behind the scenes.
Chris Farley Recorded Almost 90% of Shrek Before He Died
Shrek is one of the most famous and successful animated movies. It's enjoyed by kids and adults and is ultimately hilarious. But the voice of Shrek wasn't always intended to be played by Mike Myers. Originally Chris Farley had the role. He even had about 90% of his dialogue recorded and done when tragedy struck. Sadly, he passed away suddenly from a drug overdose. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, they re-recorded his lines and released the movie.
Shrek would've been something entirely different if Chris had remained the main character, but unfortunately, the world will never know what that could've been like.
They Made the Cast of Dune Wear Used Body Bags
The original Dune was filmed back in 1984 and is memorable for its bizarre black costumes. Most actors were in black suits that some people thought were either really cool or slightly intimidating and weird. However, one fact the actors didn't know was where the costumes came from. They were body bags that were found in an abandoned fire station! And even more creepy? They were used, which is quite gross.
Was this due to a tight budget or an artistic choice? Either way, it's bizarre the cast had no idea; perhaps there was a reason this detail was kept hidden for so long.
A Scene in Inglorious Basterds Almost Killed Eli Roth
Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds followed the journey of Jewish resistance fighters during the Nazi regime. It's a powerful film in which you cannot help but become enthralled. During one scene, there was supposed to be a controlled fire. However, the flames started spreading so quickly that it became uncontrollable. Eli Roth was seconds away from losing his life that day, the stage was about to collapse, but he narrowly escaped.
These kinds of traumatic events would typically impact a person immensely, but even Eli continued his acting career. He seemed to be almost unfazed by the incident.