You don't have to be a film buff to know that Hollywood has used some pretty outlandish work practices throughout the years. After all, that's showbiz, baby, and creating on-screen magic in the form of movies or shows takes dedication. But some of these true behind-the-scenes stories from our favorite blockbusters are so wild we can't help but be shocked. So prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor as we dive into these dark secrets.
Ryan Gosling Tried to Get Rachel McAdams Kicked off Set
The Notebook is on a lot of people's lists of their favorite romantic movies of all time. This love story from 2004 featured Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in an emotional rollercoaster of a movie, and on set, things weren't much smoother. Apparently, these two star-crossed costars actually despised each other, and Gosling actively attempted to get McAdams kicked off the set! So much for love at first sight. Plus, that must have been a nightmare to manage!
Ultimately, the duo made up and wrapped up the movie in good spirits. But not before lots of drama played out.
Leonardo DiCaprio Smeared Real Blood on Kerry Washington's Face
Django Unchained is as Tarantino as a film gets. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz team up as bounty hunters, who then try to find Foxx's lost wife, who is still a slave at a plantation owned by Leonardo DiCaprio. In one scene at the manor house, Waltz and Foxx are trying to take Django's wife, played by Kerry Washington, away from DiCaprio's character, but he discovers their ruse and throws a fit.
In this scene, Leo accidentally cut his hand for real and was really bleeding. He just kept acting and wound up smearing some of that blood on Kerry Washington's face.
Brendan Fraser Almost Hanged Himself While Doing a Stunt
Brendan Fraser is one of our favorite actors, and it's easy to see why. He was the face of action for a generation of young people who grew up on The Mummy: Journey to the Center of the Earth and his other blockbuster hits. But, he also put himself in an untenable position when he chose to speak up about the sexual abuse he faced at the hands of Hollywood's elite, and his career was completely derailed because of it.
Not only this, but during shooting for The Mummy, Fraser almost accidentally hanged himself while trying to do one of his own stunts!
Jim Carrey Went Through Anti-Torture Training for 'The Grinch'
Jim Carrey has never been known to back down from a challenge, but when it came to filming How The Grinch Stole Christmas, things changed. Because of fans' worries about the Grinch not looking realistic enough, the makeup designers on set went all out to make Carrey look extra Grinchy every day. The one problem? This process took a whole eight hours every day! Carrey wound up needing anti-torture training just to teach himself to sit through these sessions.
This also could be why we love Jim Carrey's performance so much in the movie. He definitely was feeling some of those real, Grinchy emotions while the camera was rolling.
The Entire 'Titanic' Cast Got High on PCP
Behind-the-scenes stories about romantic movies don't always help to improve people's opinions on how realistic a film may have been. However, this story about Titanic is still one of our favorites. It doesn't have to do with a major dispute between our leading stars or a piece of CGI people may have missed; it has to do with a cast party and a whole lot of drugs!
Apparently, the entire cast accidentally got high on PCP one night and had to be hospitalized and monitored. Even James Cameron got in on the fun, which just makes us love Titanic even more.
Isla Fisher Almost Drowned While Filming 'Now You See Me'
Isla Fisher is an incredibly impressive actress, for no little part because of her ability to handle her husband, the bombastic Sacha Baron Cohen. However, in one of her recent roles, Now You See Me, Fisher wound up getting wrapped up in an escape illusion that almost went terribly wrong. She filmed a scene where she was completely submerged in a water-filled tank. The actress had a release switch to get out of the tank of water for the scene, but the switch got stuck, and she almost drowned!
She's spoken about the event in interviews and has stated she's incredibly grateful things didn't go worse. So are we, frankly, and directors should take note of events like this every time they're planning for a stunt, no matter how low the danger level seems.
Jamie Foxx Glued His Eyes Shut to Play Ray Charles
There's getting into character, and then there's method acting. So, we're not sure which one Jamie Foxx was practicing when he played Ray Charles, but regardless, his performance was stellar. In part, that has to be because Foxx committed to his status as a blind man while on set for the film. Apparently, he had makeup artists glue his eyes shut each day in order to improve his performance, which is a level of commitment we're not sure we could match.
They really could not have chosen a better actor than Jamie Foxx to play this role. His musical skills, combined with his acting dedication, made this a movie to remember.
'Poltergeist' Used Real Human Skeletons and the Cast Didn't Know
The seventies and eighties were a golden age for horror films in the United States. Directors started to push the boundaries of how scary they could be and what topics were allowed, and they pushed the genre forward a great deal in a short amount of time. One of our favorites from this period is Poltergeist, and if you know the swimming pool scene, you know what we're talking about. To take that even further, did you know that those were real skeletons?
Right before they started filming, the leading actress was told she'd be swimming with real human remains, and she was totally freaked out.
Jack Nicholson Pulled a Real Gun on Leonardo DiCaprio
Jack Nicholson is just one of those guys who you don't want to mess with. But, while we love how he dedicates himself to his craft, we think he went a little too far while filming The Departed. In the middle of shooting one scene with Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicholson pulled out a real gun! You might expect Leo to be taken aback, but he's a true pro too. The two just kept rolling and finished the take.
While it's cool that the two actors got the job done, we've seen too many instances in history where prop guns have caused injuries, let alone real guns, so this really wasn't safe.
Toto the Dog Was Paid More Than the Munchkins
We genuinely see the Wizard of Oz as more of a cultural moment in time than a classic film. The film experimented with both black and white and color film, which shocked viewers who were seeing color on their televisions at home for the first time. Plus, it provides a window into some of the less-than-fair practices Hollywood used to use. For example, did you know that Toto the dog was actually being paid more to be in the film than any of the munchkins?
It's absolutely ridiculous that a part that required speaking lines, singing, and dancing is worth less than just barking, but that's the way Hollywood used to be!
'The Exorcist' Had a Real-Life Murderer Amongst The Cast
When we see an actor we like in a movie, it's nice because we can then go on and look at the other work they've done. With extras, it's different, and you only ever really learn an extra's name if they do something egregious. In the case of The Exorcist, they had an extra who did exactly that. His name was Paul Bateson, and after filming, he was arrested and went away for murder.
In the film, Bateson plays the radiological technician that comes in to take a reading on Linda Blair's character. There are also rumors that he was responsible for a number of other murders, but it was never proven.
Carrie-Anne Moss Kept an Injury Secret for Fear of Being Recast
The Matrix blew people away when it first came out, in no small part thanks to how good Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss both are in the film. But did you know that Moss actually twisted her ankle early in production and kept acting on it until shooting wrapped? As a younger actor, she was worried that she would be recast if she asked to nurse her injury, so instead, she just powered through.
We won't advocate running around on a twisted ankle because you can do serious damage to your body that way, but we're still pretty glad Moss decided to work as hard as she did. The movie wouldn't be the same without her.
'Candyman' Used Real Bees
Candyman is, without a doubt, one of the all-time classic horror movies. This paranormal slasher from the early 90s features a hook-handed murderer on the loose and shocked audiences with realistic horror scenes throughout. For example, in one scene, the Candyman seems to be covered in live bees. They're pouring off of his chest and filling up his mouth. But if the whole thing almost looked too real to you, you're in luck because it was!
Tony Todd negotiated an extra $1000 from the studio for every bee sting he received on set and walked out with a hefty paycheck because of it.
The Director of 'The Shining' Bullied Shelley Duvall to Tears
The Shining is one of the greatest scary movies of all time. Jack Nicholson's horrifying performance has been immortalized for generations of cinema lovers with gifs, pictures, and imitations of his famous "Here's Johnny" line. However, the whole film seems even scarier when you learn that Shelley Duvall, the female protagonist of the film, was bullied by Director Stanley Kubrick the whole time they were filming the movie. So, that's some real fear and exasperation you're seeing in her eyes.
It's a shame that for years, this type of behavior went unchecked on movie sets. Things aren't perfect yet, but at least there are systems in place for actors and actresses to report unsafe working conditions.
Robert Downey Jr. Hid Jars of Pee Around the 'Zodiac' Set
The Zodiac killings are still some of the creepiest and strangest unresolved crimes in American history. At this point, it's more than likely the actual Zodiac killer is thankfully dead, but we can't help but wonder who the real murderer was. Still, we wonder if any of the actors who performed in the movie Zodiac were nervous about what he would think. We know for sure that Robert Downey Jr wasn't having a good time; he apparently was hiding bottles of his pee all around the set!
Apparently, the long hours so irked Downey Jr. that he started to take a bit of revenge on his co-stars.
The Director of 'Cannibal Holocaust' Was Arrested for Murder
The found film style of horror movies is incredibly scary and is meant to make viewers feel like what they're watching is a real-life event. But, the director of Cannibal Holocaust took that a little bit too far when they required actors to sign contracts agreeing to disappear for a year after the film's release. The stunt landed him in trouble when police couldn't locate his actors, and he wound up booked into jail on murder charges!
Thankfully, one of the director's colleagues was able to find the actors in hiding and persuade them to come forward. But, at that point, the movie was practically selling itself, so no harm, no foul.
Joe Pesci Gave Macaulay Culkin a Scar on His Finger
As far as actors go, Joe Pesci is pretty universally beloved. His tough-guy roles and little man bravado resonate with a lot of people, and whenever he's cast in a film, we automatically want to see it. One of the classics he had a chance to be in was Home Alone, with Macaulay Culkin. But did you know that Pesci accidentally bit Culkin on set and left a scar on his finger?
Apparently, Pesci was trying to scare Culkin to make the film more realistic. We understand that mindset from the actor's side of things, but for a kid like Macaulay to have to go through that at work isn't exactly fair.
'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' Set Made the Actors Sick
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and all of its sequels and iterations are one of the greatest horror movie dynasties ever. Leatherface is the perfect villain, and thousands of people dress up like him for Halloween every year. But to make the blood and gore so realistic on set, there were dead animals all over the place, just rotting in the Texas heat. During filming, it made a number of cast members sick, which is probably one of the reasons they looked so scared.
A new version of Texas Chainsaw is coming out this year, almost fifty years after the original!
Steven Spielberg Buried a Crew Member Alive for 'Jaws'
One of the things that makes Jaws so scary, even now, is just how realistic some of the scenes with the shark look. Especially when we see the swimmer who was eaten wash up on shore early in the film, the hand sticking out of the mud looks exactly like a real hand. Well, we later found out that it actually is a real hand! Spielberg decided to bury a crew member to get the effect he was looking for.
While the hand was real, Jaws himself wasn't. The animatronic shark they used to film the movie was notoriously finicky and broke down all the time.
Lucy Liu and Bill Murray Got in a Physical Fight
There's a reason that movie stars have a reputation for being divas. It seems the bigger they get, the bolder they become. So, when they were casting the action-packed, high-budget film remake of the popular 70s TV show Charlie's Angels, they knew they were going to need some divas. One of the main roles went to Bill Murray, who we love, but who has a reputation for causing trouble in some of the films he's worked on. This time, he started a fight with Lucy Liu!
Lucy stood up for herself, and other crew members got involved so that cooler heads would prevail.
Stanley Kubrick Destroyed Everything From the '2001: A Space Odyssey' Set
Stanley Kubrick made some of the greatest movies of all time, and like all other great artists, he's naturally got a little bit of a strange working style. Apparently, whenever one of his films would finish up, Kubrick would have all of the props and sets completely destroyed. But after 2001: A Space Odyssey wrapped, there was still a leftover spaceship prop, and the Motion Picture Academy spent $350,000 just to preserve it and display it in a museum!
We're glad they decided to save the spaceship prop and not something else, like HAL. We have enough trouble with AI today as is!
Christopher Guest's Hit in 'The Princess Bride' Landed Cary Elwes in the Hospital
The Princess Bride is one of the great love stories of all time and features incredible performances by Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and Wallace Shawn, among others. Cary Elwes, who plays the film's protagonist, was so dedicated to his role that in one scene, he asked fellow actor Christopher Guest to hit him for real. The blow actually knocked Elwes out, and he had to go to the hospital to get checked out after the fact.
The Princess Bride isn't just a good love story, it's also an all-time quotable movie. But, we digress. Movie facts are what bring us here today.
Martin Sheen Nearly Died While Filming 'Apocalypse Now'
Apocalypse Now is one of our favorite movies of all time. It is a masterclass about the epic American (and French) failure in Vietnam and a pretty epic movie to boot. The film took months to make in the jungle and took a toll on its creators and the actors performing in it. It took so much of a toll that the movies leading actor Martin Sheen actually had a heart attack during filming and wound up in the hospital.
While Sheen was in the hospital and couldn't act, his brother Joe Estevez came to stand in for his scenes so they could keep filming.
A Stuntman Was Killed by a Shark While Filming 'Shark'
If anyone doesn't recognize this film, Shark was a 1969 Burt Reynolds action-adventure flick about a treasure raid on a sunken ship. It was like Jaws before people were introduced to Jaws. But, unlike the animatronic behemoth that we all know and love, the sharks in Shark were, well, sharks! As you might expect, the wild animals are notoriously hard to control, and one of the stuntmen, Jose Marco, actually lost his life during filming!
One of the worst parts of this whole story is that when they were promoting the film, they used promotional images that showed the fatal attack on Marco!
'The Birds' Featured Real Birds Violently Thrown at Tippi Hedren
There may not be another story as sad as how awful Alfred Hitchcock treated Tippi Hedren on the set of The Birds. To try to make the film more realistic, he was brutally abusive to the actress, attempting to bring out real fear on screen. The film crew even wound up throwing live birds at her and locking her in a small room with a bunch of birds and bird feed while they filmed her freaking out.
The film was based on a famous short story and capitalized on a trend in horror movies at the time where it seemed the natural world would be everyone's demise.
This 'Harry Potter' Actor Was Fired After Getting Arrested
Draco Malfoy wasn't the main villain in the Harry Potter books and films (that would be Voldemort), but he is a good heel for Harry to go up against. His henchmen, Crabbe and Goyle, are pretty sinister, too, so we never paid them too much attention. That's probably why we never noticed that the actor who played Crabbe was actually written out of the movies. They used a different actor to record one more scene with the character in the last film.
Apparently, Jamie Waylett, the original actor who played Crabbe, actually wound up in some serious trouble after he was found to be growing illegal substances.
Two Children Passed Away on Set of 'The Twilight Zone'
The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling, always confounded viewers and put them through a mix of emotions while presenting horror, sci-fi, suspense, and drama at the same time. When the movie was created, they wanted to go even further. But, by not respecting the proper safety regulations, a helicopter scene went wrong and killed three people. Two of those killed were actors who were under the age of ten!
Those killed were Vic Morrow, an Emmy-nominated actor, and the two-child actors named Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. Here's an even crazier fact, the child actors were hired illegally! The ensuing court case changed the standards of safety regulations on sets across Hollywood.
Mark Hamill Was Thrown Into a Real Blizzard for 'Star Wars'
The Star Wars films have stood the test of time and were even bought by Disney so they could make a bunch of remakes and further films within the film's canon. So, clearly, George Lucas did something right. One of those right decisions all those years ago influenced the famous TaunTaun scene on Hoth, where Luke has to survive a blizzard. While filming, Mark Hammill was actually dealing with a real blizzard while all the rest of the cast and crew were filming from inside.
We've been in some major blizzards before, and it is no fun at all. The snow angels stop pretty fast when you can't see ten feet in front of your face.
Lightning Struck Jim Caviezel While Filming 'The Passion of the Christ'
The Passion of The Christ was a Mel Gibson fever dream that turned into one of the most controversial films of all time. This biblical epic from 2004 was an anomaly in more ways than one, especially because crazy things kept happening on set that no one could explain. The weirdest occurrence happened one day when Jim Caviezel, the actor who was portraying Jesus of Nazareth, was actually struck by lightning!
Thankfully, Caviezel survived the ordeal and was able to finish production on the film. He's also been making the rounds as an internet meme recently, where a picture of him sitting next to Gibson is used to make fun of people who complain too much.
Vivien Leigh Hated Kissing Clark Gable in 'Gone With the Wind'
Clark Gable was often called "The King Of Hollywood." He was one of the first major movie stars in the United States and starred in tens of movies throughout a 30+ year career. However, even though women found him handsome on-screen, his female costars sometimes had some trouble dealing with the King. According to Vivien Leigh, who acted alongside him in Gone With The Wind, kissing Gable was a nightmare thanks to his rotting false teeth, excessive smoking, and garlic-based diet.
Can you imagine meeting one of your idols and realizing that they don't properly brush their teeth? That would be such a bummer.
Gene Kelly Bullied Debbie Reynolds Until She Cried
Singing In The Rain is a lighthearted, good-natured musical romp that has been delighting American audiences for years. It's a classic and one that almost everyone knows the words and lines to. Plus, most boys would be lying if they said they'd never had a crush on Debbie Reynolds. That being said, though, it was her costar Gene Kelly who seemed to have a problem with the up-and-coming star. He apparently bullied Reynolds on set to the point that he made her cry!
On top of this, the nonstop hours of dancing left Reynolds's feet a mess. But, she got to learn from Fred Astaire, so it's almost a fair trade-off.
Brandon Lee Was Killed On Set of 'The Crow'
When Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee's son, was wrapping up filming for his upcoming movie the crow, his father's untimely demise was probably the last thing on his mind. However, when things went horribly awry and a prop gun wound up firing a real bullet, Brandon was struck in the abdomen by a .44 cartridge. A day and a half of surgery were unsuccessful, and he passed away the next night, just weeks before the film was scheduled to be released.
A few months ago, the Lee family broke a longtime silence about Brandon's death, urging Hollywood studios to consider changing their practices after an eerily similar incident with a prop gun on an Alec Baldwin set left one of the members of the film crew dead.
Bill Murray Had a Rabies Scare After the Groundhog Bit Him
When things don't go your way over and over and over again, it can feel like you're a part of the movie Groundhog Day, where everything just repeats and repeats and repeats until you can get it right. But, apparently, even on set, Bill Murray was having trouble getting everything right. He was bitten by the groundhog more than once and had to go get rabies injections. Sounds like Punxsutawney Phil was grumpy.
This old Dutch/German tradition has become a part of Pennsylvania lore, as each year, a famous groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil is asked to predict the next six weeks of weather.
'West Side Story' Used Brownface on the Actors
West Side Story is one of those musicals that has stood the test of time. There have been a bunch of adaptations made both on the stage and on the screen, and it remains one of Broadway's most visited shows. Still, in the original film, this story about love wasn't exactly politically correct. The leading actresses were made to wear brown faces in order to make them supposedly look more Puerto Rican.
One of these actresses, Rita Moreno, was actually Puerto Rican. But, they still put brownface on her and her co-stars. This is just another example of how classic Hollywood was more than a little shady.
The Tin Man Suffered an Infection From His Costume
The Wizard of Oz is a classic movie, but the filming of the thing was an absolute disaster. There are a number of stories online about near-disasters on set and the unfair working conditions many people faced. However, one of the most egregious things that happened is that the Tin Man, played by Jack Haley, was actually created by smearing aluminum paste all over the actor. Haley wound up with a serious infection in his eye and needed surgery.
The movie is still one of our favorites, but it's hard to learn that something we love has such a dark backstory.
An Extra in 'Austin Powers' Was a Scary Criminal
Extras in films rarely get noticed, but that's because they're not supposed to. They exist to further the storyline for our main characters. So, no one was paying that much attention to the extra in Austin Powers, but maybe somebody should've been. One of them, a man named Joe Son, played a henchman named Random Task and then, a few years after filming, was arrested and sentenced to many years in jail.
Son's crimes are pretty heinous, so we'd rather not discuss them. However, if you watch the film Hail Ceaser by the Coen Brothers, there's a very funny line about not being able to trust extras that you'll see definitely applies to this situation.
Chris Farley Was Supposed to Play Shrek
The world lost Chris Farley way too soon, which is such a shame because we can only imagine the incredible projects he would've kept coming out with. Apparently, at the time of his passing, he was already working on another big film, a film that we all already know and love. You might not believe it, but Farley was originally supposed to play Shrek! After his passing, the directors brought Michael Myers in.
There's some great found footage available online of Farley reading the lines for Shrek, along with some early animation sketches from the team.
Three Actors Died During the Flood Scene in 'Noah's Ark'
Some of Hollywood's earliest major blockbusters were based on religious stories, and Noah's Ark is no exception. This spectacle from 1928 featured a super realistic flood scene, in part because the actors were really panicking. The director didn't warn them about the torrents of water that were going to be poured on them; plus, he set up a number of permanent fixtures around the set instead of breakaways, further endangering everyone.
Three people wound up being killed during the filming of this scene, and a number of others were seriously injured. Get this, though, one of the other extras on the set was none other than a young John Wayne!
Linda Blair Suffered From Lifelong Back Injuries Because of 'The Exorcist'
The Exorcist was a religious horror flick from that 70s and 80s golden age of horror and featured actress Linda Blair as a young girl who has been possessed by a demon. In one scene, they attempt to rid her body of the demon by performing an exorcism, and a special electronic bed was used to create effects for the scene. But, something malfunctioned and fractured the actress's spine, which later developed into a pretty serious case of scoliosis.
Apparently, the rest of the time filming this movie wasn't such a piece of cake either. A fire broke out at one point, delaying production for six weeks.
'The Lord Of The Rings' Set Was A Medical Minefield
The Lord Of The Rings trilogy is an epic series of movies, and the production team definitely put their work in to get it done. Those movie sets were some of the more dangerous in recent history, and actors found themselves getting hurt pretty frequently. One actor, Sean Astin, who plays the hobbit Samwise Gamgee, actually wound up in the hospital! With all the walking barefoot that he and Frodo do, Astin actually wound up stepping on a large piece of broken glass.
Astin also suffered a head injury at one point when a harp was blown over by the wind and struck him in the temple.