The Most Dangerous Job on the Planet: Stunt Performers

By: Lisa Lee | Last updated: Jan 28, 2023

From A-list actors to their stunt doubles, the job of a film actor can be one of the most dangerous on the planet. Performing stunts with no guarantee of safety, these performers risk their lives for our entertainment. 

Whether it’s flipping a car, leaping away from an explosion, or taking a punch, these scenes can go wrong in a variety of ways. Despite Hollywood magic, these actors can still be left with some very real scars.

Leonardo DiCaprio Goes the Extra Mile for Django Unchained 

In a moment of passion and intensity, DiCaprio slammed his hand down on a glass table, slicing it open. But like a trooper, he acted through the pain, and the scene even made it into the final film, with his bloody hand and all! 


Source: Gallery/Imgur

Leonardo DiCaprio definitely knows how to bring a character to life. While filming Django Unchained, the actor went above and beyond to ensure his performance as plantation owner Calvin Candie was as life-like as possible. 

Sylvester Stallone Gets Physical in Rocky IV 

For Sylvester Stallone, no scene in Rocky IV was too tough to shoot. The legendary star was determined to make the movie as realistic as possible, even if it meant taking the occasional punch to the face! 


Source: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

During one of the fight scenes, Stallone asked his co-star and on-screen rival, Dolph Lundgren, to punch him as hard as he could. Lundgren obliged, and Sylvester was sent to the ICU for an entire week! This goes to show that Stallone truly values authenticity in his films – no matter the cost!

Isla Fisher's Narrow Escape From a Real-Life Trick

In the thrilling movie Now You See Me, Isla Fisher had an unforgettable performance as she was “trapped” in a water tank. Unbeknownst to the crew, however, she was actually in great peril – as she had become entangled in a chain inside the trick box. 


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Thankfully, she was able to free herself, narrowly escaping this real-life trick. This scene was a testament to Isla’s incredible acting and her quick-thinking in an incredibly  dangerous situation.

Jackie Chan's Close Call - "Ouch!" 

Jackie Chan is renowned for his nail-biting stunts in his action-packed movies, but even he couldn’t escape his own close call. During the shooting of Police Story, Chan attempted a daring jump off a rooftop and slid down a pole. 


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Unfortunately, he misjudged the jump and ended up breaking a part of his back and dislocating his pelvis. Talk about a painful experience! Despite this setback, Jackie Chan still managed to complete the movie. Now that’s resilience!

Stunt Double Olivia Jackson's Life-Changing Mishap 

Olivia Jackson has worked on some of the biggest blockbusters, like Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: A Force Awakens, but it was while filming Resident Evil that her life changed forever. During a stunt, Jackson crashed her motorcycle into a crane-mounted camera and suffered a spine injury.

Source: Screen Gems

As a result of this devastating mishap, she was placed in an induced coma for 17 days and her left arm was amputated. Despite her misfortune, Jackson managed to successfully sue those accountable.


Stuntman Laird Hamilton's Dramatic Rescue 

Stuntman Laird Hamilton put on an impressive display of tricks on a jet ski for Waterworld, but his adventure took a dramatic turn when his vehicle ran out of gas and left him stranded in the middle of the ocean. 

Source: Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Luckily, the U.S. Coast Guard was there to save the day and rescue the legendary surfer however only after hours of already being adrift, Hamilton’s surfing skills may have truly helped him stay alive and make it out of the situation safely.


A Stuntman's Unwavering Commitment 

Jeremy Fitzgerald’s commitment to his craft is truly remarkable. When it came to performing a daring action scene in The Avengers, the stuntman had to take a 30-foot fall with a jagged rain gutter looming below, one wrong move could have been deadly.

Source: Greater good/X-Men Movies Wiki

Despite these risks, Fitzgerald persevered and continued working, even after a stumble led to him tearing off some of his scalp. His resilience and dedication is a testament to the lengths stunt performers go in order to bring action scenes to life.


Dangerous Stunt Gone Wrong - Rescue Saves the Day! 

When stuntman Terry Leonard and Vince Deadrick Jr. were tasked to film a daring scene for a Romancing the Stone sequence, they were ready for the challenge. They were to jump away from the car and the whirlpool below. 

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But when the platform Leonard was standing on broke, he plunged into the water, leaving Deadrick Jr. in a state of shock. Fortunately, a rescue team was quick to save them both. It was a close call, but both stuntmen were glad to come out of the incident unscathed.


Survivor of High-Speed Bond Car Chase 

Aris Comninos’ harrowing experience on the set of a Bond movie will stay with him forever. During an intense car chase scene, Comninos’ car collided with another, breaking through a guard wall and dangling precariously over a 50-foot drop. 

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Rescuers rushed to make sure both Comninos and his driver were out of the car before it went over the edge. While his driver escaped with minor injuries, Comninos fell into a short term coma on the scene.


Danger Lurking in the Most Innocent of Places: Jennifer Lawrence's Near-Death Experience 

Jennifer Lawrence had a close call while filming The Hunger Games. While on set a smoke machine malfunctioned, and Lawrence ended up nearly suffocating! Thankfully, she managed to get out of this dangerous situation unharmed, but it serves as a reminder that even the most innocuous of props can be hazardous. 

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No matter how safe a set may seem, actors must always be vigilant and take extra precautions. We can all be thankful that Lawrence was able to escape this terrifying ordeal unscathed and remains a much loved actress in some of our favorite movies!


Back to the Future Mishap!

Lisa McCullough is an amazing stunt performer who put her fears aside to take part in a daring hoverboard chase. She and her team were tasked with chasing down Michael J. Fox’s character and ultimately crashing into a clock tower. 

Source: News.moviefone

Unfortunately, after a few failed attempts, McCullough decided to step away from the stunt and Cheryl Wheeler-Dixon stepped up to the challenge. Wheeler-Dixon ended up hitting one of the pillars and falling 30 feet onto concrete. Despite suffering facial injuries, she survived this distressing mishap.


Michael J. Fox's Terrifying 

Having no fear of performing his own stunts in the movie, Michael J. Fox took on a terrifying task for “Back to the Future Part III” – one that almost cost him his life! The scene involved Fox being hanged, but when a rope malfunction put him in real danger of suffocating, the director had to intervene in the nick of time. 

Source: Universal Pictures/Getty Images

Despite the scare, Fox’s panic-stricken face was too good to discard, and it was kept in the final cut of the movie. Talk about a near-death experience that became a memorable moment in cinema!


Bond Girl Saved by 007! 

When Halle Berry starred as a Bond girl in Pierce Brosnan’s Die Another Day, she almost had a brush with death! While filming a romantic scene, Berry choked on a piece of fruit – luckily, Brosnan was there to save the day with a swift Heimlich maneuver. 

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Who would’ve known! Well, Brosnan’s heroic actions proved that not only is he a prime agent for MI6, but a great real-life friend too! It goes to show that when it comes to saving the day, you can always count on 007.


Pierce Brosnan Saves Uma Thurman From Near-Fatal Accident! 

Uma Thurman had a miraculous escape when Pierce Brosnan saved her from a near-fatal accident on the set of Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief! While Uma was filming, a van parked behind her began to roll downhill, threatening to crush her. 

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Thankfully, her co-star, Pierce, came to the rescue and managed to stop the van in its tracks, saving Uma from certain danger, just like he did with Halle Berry in Die Another Day. Uma was more than grateful for his heroic act!


Brave Butler: Even Nearly Drowning Can't Stop Him! 

Gerard Butler isn’t one to shy away from danger, even when it comes in the form of a 20-foot wave! While shooting for the movie Chasing Mavericks, the actor was knocked down and nearly drowned by the choppy water. 

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Despite this harrowing incident, Butler proved that he isn’t one to be discouraged by any near-death experience, showing the world his incredible bravery. After all, doing your own stunts takes some serious courage!


Close Call for Bob Denver on the Set of Gilligan's Island 

Bob Denver, who played the titular role of Gilligan on the popular show Gilligan’s Island, had a close call on set. In a scene featuring a lion, the animal lunged to attack the actor. However, the animal’s trainer managed to tackle it in mid-air, saving Denver from a potentially life-threatening situation. 

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Despite the shipwrecked group of oddballs getting into all sorts of trouble on the island, it was Bob Denver who had the closest brush with danger. Thankfully, the brave animal trainer was there to save the day!


A Startling Surprise on the Inglorious Basterds Set 

On the set of Inglorious Basterds, nobody expected the shocking turn of events that occurred when Director Quentin Tarantino stepped in to film a scene with Diane Kruger and Christoph Waltz. As Kruger was supposed to be choked by Waltz’s character, Tarantino took the opportunity to do the honors himself – but he went a bit too far. .

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As his grip tightened, Kruger quickly lost consciousness, sending the whole set into a state of panic. Fortunately, she regained consciousness just as quickly and the scene was able to be completed without any further incidents


A Near Brush With Death for Jesse Pinkman! 

Aaron Paul had a close call on the set of Breaking Bad. While filming, the actor had to make a split second decision that possibly saved his life. He had been standing directly beneath a prominent boulder, but felt uneasy and asked to move. 

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Lo and behold, the boulder fell exactly where he had been standing! Luckily, the actor asked just in time and got away unscathed. This truly serves as a reminder of the importance of trusting your gut instincts and intuition.


Dylan O'Brien's Stunt Gone Wrong 

Dylan O’Brien, the lead actor and stuntman in the movie Maze Runner: The Death Cure, attempted a daring stunt involving jumping from one vehicle to another. Unfortunately, the stunt didn’t go as planned and the star ended up being dragged underneath the first vehicle, enduring multiple fractures to his cheekbones, orbital sockets, and a concussion. 

Source: 20th Century Studios/YouTube

Due to his severe injuries, the release of the movie had to be postponed. While we’re relieved that O’Brien survived this frightening incident, it’s a reminder to all of the risks that come with performing stunts.


Matthew Fox Spared from Injury in Lost Stunt Scene Gone Wrong 

Matthew Fox experienced a close call while shooting the hit TV show Lost. During a scene where he was supposed to get stabbed with a fake, collapsible knife, the prop department had mistakenly used a real one. 

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Despite the error, Fox was unharmed thanks to the stunt team’s quick thinking and precautionary measures. They had put him in a protective suit that absorbed the impact of the knife, saving him from injury. It was an unexpected surprise, but luckily the mistake didn’t have any lasting consequences.


When a Failed Stunt Causes a Life-Altering Injury 

Gabriela Cedillo wasn’t a stunt double, but in fact an extra for a scene in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. She was asked to drive her car down the highway with the stunt performers weaving in and out of traffic. Unfortunately, the stunt went terribly wrong when a cable snapped and smashed her windshield. 

Source: Hasbro Films

Cedillo, was stricken in the face by the snapped cable and sustained severe injuries. What’s even more unfortunate is that this same stunt had failed previously, just the day before. Despite this tragedy, Gabriela was awarded $18 million in a lawsuit.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt Swerves Into Trouble on His Bike 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bike-riding stunt in Premium Rush was no child’s play! In the movie, he played a daredevil bicycle messenger who zipped through the busy streets of New York City, a dangerous task for any individual. 


But his high-speed biking came with a price – he collided with a taxi cab and had to get over 30 stitches! Talk about a wild ride! It just goes to show that acting is a lot like riding a bike – sometimes it can be a really dangerous experience.


Charlize Theron's Stunning Recovery - A Miracle Story

When Charlize Theron was filming the sci-fi movie Æon Flux, she had a truly terrifying accident. During a stunt, she fell and landed right on her neck, leaving her in the hospital for eight weeks. 

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Doctors even suspected she may never be able to walk again. Against all odds, Charlize made a stunning recovery, proving that miracles do happen! Her incredible story serves as an inspiring reminder that hope is always worth fighting for.


Stunt Man's Close Call: Scott McLean Sues Producers Over Near-Tragic Accident

Scott McLean took on a daring role in The Hangover Part II, performing as the double for Ed Helms’ character. However, what was meant to be a thrilling stunt quickly turned dangerous when the stunt driver mistakenly hit another vehicle. 

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McLean was left with a nasty gash on the head. Thankfully, the stunt performer was able to survive the near-tragic accident and since then, has taken legal action against the producers and Warner Bros for the mishap.


The Unbreakable Bond Between Bruce Willis and His Stuntman 

Larry Rippenkroeger had a brush with death when he went over a fire escape, plummeting 25 feet before hitting the pavement. He sustained many injuries including, broken bones in his face, fractured wrists, and broken ribs – a horrific accident that resulted in a temporary production shut down. 

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But through it all, Bruce Willis was by Larry’s side as he healed. It’s not unusual for A-listers and their stuntmen to form close bonds – and Larry and Bruce are no exception. Despite the dangers of his job, Larry is proud to be Bruce’s stunt double.


Ben Affleck's Stunt Double Causes Double-Take 

Ben Affleck’s much-discussed back tattoo pictured while filming Triple Frontier may not have won over Jennifer Lopez, but his stunt double certainly did! Affleck recently posted a selfie with Rich Cetrone on Instagram, captioning it “Grateful to work with such incredible people”. 

Source: Ben Affleck/Instagram

The photo of the actor’s lookalike had everyone doing a double-take, as Cetrone is almost the spitting image of Affleck. With his stunt double causing such a stir, Affleck’s Triple Frontier shoot was surely forgotten!


Bobby Hanton: The Man Who Has to Train Like Thor 

Bobby Hanton is no ordinary stunt double – he has to work out twice as hard as the average person to keep up with one of the most physically fit actors in Hollywood. For Hanton, it’s not just about getting into shape – it’s also about eating eight meals a day to maintain the same physique as Thor’s leading actor, Chris Hemsworth.

Source: Bobby Holland Hanton/Instagram

Hanton is no mere mortal – he’s a god of fitness and nutrition, just like Thor! He works out and eats like a champ, and it’s no surprise he’s able to work as the God of Lightning stunt double!. He’s a shining example of how hard work and dedication can pay off.


Stunt Double to the Rescue! 

Everyone’s favorite HBO dramedy, Girls, is no stranger to the need for stunt doubles. Lena Dunham, the show’s leading lady, relies on her trusty stunt double, Dakota Brown, to step in and save the day. 

Source: Lena Dunham/Instagram

Dunham jokingly shared a photo of the two of them on Instagram with the caption, “Any time I need to crash a car or fly off a bike, [Dakota] appears.” It’s clear that Dakota is a fearless heroine that Dunham can count on – both on and off the screen!


Casey Michaels & Kate Mara: A Perfect Match 

Casey Michaels and Kata Mara made the perfect pair while working on the movie Morgan. Michaels, a stunt double, was full of praise for Mara, calling her an “extraordinary human” and a “true ninja” for her dedication to fight training and rehearsals. 

Source: Casey Michaels "CaseyStunts"/Facebook

The two also worked together on The Martian, with Michaels claiming the astronaut suit Mara had to wear was her all-time favorite costume. It’s clear these two have a great working relationship and make a great team!


A Thrilling Experience for the Game of Thrones Stunt Double 

Dan Euston, the stunt double for one of the Game of Thrones biggest stars Kit Harington, had an incredible experience taking part in the epic series. From cold nights in Winterfell to eating donuts in King’s Landing, Dan was proud to have been a part of this iconic series. 

Source: Dan Euston/Instagram

He shared a picture of himself in full Jon Snow cosplay alongside the real deal and wrote, “What an experience from start to finish!” It was certainly a thrilling ride for Dan and his fans.


Stunt Double Gushes About Working with Aladdin Star Mena Massoud 

Hasit Savani had nothing but praise for the star of the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin, Mena Massoud. Taking to Instagram, the stunt double shared a picture of himself and Massoud with a heartfelt caption. “My brother from another mother… (and father). An absolute gentleman and a pleasure to work with, ”. 

Source: Hasit Savani/Instagram

Savani clearly enjoyed his time working on the box-office smash. His account is full of other images from the set of Guy Ritchie’s movie, proving that the experience was a memorable one that he will cherish forever.


A True Friendship for Stunt Double Megan Le 

Megan Le has forged a special bond with Hollywood star Cobie Smulders, sharing her appreciation for the actress in an Instagram post. Le praised Smulders for showing that mothers can thrive in the entertainment industry, and for providing her with a source of motivation to unlock her own strength and authenticity. 

Source: Megan Le/Instagram

She thanked the “amazing woman” for inspiring her and allowing her to break free and express her true self. It is clear that Megan and Cobie have formed a connection that goes beyond the average stunt double and celebrity relationship.


Nick Loren and John Travolta in a Thrilling Collaboration 

Nick Loren and John Travolta came together in Atlanta to shoot the 2013 thriller Killing Season, and their collaboration was nothing short of remarkable. From their intense expressions to their matching outfits. 

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Loren’s throwback post on instagram depicted the two in wooly hats, green coats and beards, and described their energy as focused – a sight to behold! With Robert De Niro adding to the star power, this thrilling scene was one the cast and crew will remember for years to come.


Meet Heidi Moneymaker - The Stunt Double Behind Black Widow 

Heidi Moneymaker is the hidden hero of Marvel’s ever-growing cinematic universe. Since 2010, she has been the stunt double behind Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, performing her most death-defying stunts. 

Source: Heidi Moneymaker/Instagram

Before taking on this exciting role Heidi was a title-winning gymnast, Her talents and athleticism have been integral to bringing Black Widow to life in all her action-packed scenes. So, the next time you watch Black Widow take on her enemies, remember that it’s Heidi Moneymaker behind the scenes, making it all possible.


Sisters Working Together: Heidi and Renae Moneymaker 

Heidi and Renae Moneymaker are two sisters making waves in the stunt work industry. The talented duo have worked together on blockbuster movies such as Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel. 

Source: Renae Monymaker/Instagram

In the latter, Heidi was aged up to look like Marilyn Brett, while Renae was responsible for doubling for the film’s lead, Brie Larson. The Moneymaker sisters certainly know how to take their talent to the highest levels of the stunt work business.


Bruce Willis' Signature Look Is Easily Replicable 

If you want to look like a star, then look no further than the likes of Bruce Willis! He’s the classic, iconic action hero of Hollywood. All you need is a buzz cut, a casual shirt, some shades, a fierce attitude and you’re ready to go! 

Source: Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images

Even the producers of 2009’s Cop Out were able to find two stunt doubles who could easily pass as the real thing. With just a few simple steps, you can look just like the man himself!  Forget the expensive costumes, just channel your inner Bruce Willis and you’re sure to turn heads.


Dan Mast Takes on Mark Wahlberg's Intense Fitness Regime 

When Dan Mast, stunt double for Mark Wahlberg in Transformers: Age of Extinction, accepted the challenge of following Wahlberg’s intense fitness regime everyone was amazed. The stuntman shared the rigorous training routine, and it is clear to see that it was no small feat!

Source: Dan Mast/Instagram

His routine began at 2.30 am, with a strict array of gym workouts, cryogenic chamber sessions and meals before his 7.30 pm bedtime. It was no easy task, but Mast was up for the challenge. The dedication and hard work of both these fitness enthusiasts is truly inspiring!


Zooey Deschanel Asks Fans to Help Her Stunt Double 

For more than 10 years, Monica Braunger Hudson has been standing in for Zooey Deschanel in her roles. Now, the New Girl star is asking her fans to help her stunt double in this time of need. On her social media accounts, Deschanel revealed that Braunger Hudson and her husband are having financial difficulties due to his diagnosis of a nervous system disease. 

Source: Zooey Deschanel/Instagram

She pointed her fans towards the couple’s GoFundMe account in hopes of providing them the relief they need. Now that’s definitely an example of the incredible relationships formed between Actors and their Stunt Doubles, that continue to exist way beyond film sets! 


Friendship and Fun on the Set of Supernatural 

From the moment they met, Jared Padalecki and Michael Carpenter had an instant connection. Padalecki and Carpenter, hist stunt double of the long-running sci-fi drama Supernatural, had developed a close friendship over the past 15 years. 

Source: Mike Carpenter/Instagram

In an interview with Changing Channels, Carpenter revealed, “We both share a little bit of the same personality type by nature. We like to work, we like to joke around and don’t take ourselves too seriously.” It’s no surprise that their strong bond has been a major factor in the show’s continued success.


A Triple Threat Moment with Ellie Kemper! 

Ellie Kemper captions her on-set snap “Triple-threat Monday” and it is easy to see why! The actress is sandwiched between two carbon copies of her fierce and go-getting character from the Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. 

Source: Ellie Kemper/Instagram

Kemper even adds the catchy hashtag #femalesarestrongashell, a lyric from the show’s theme song. Her mom may have even had difficulty telling them apart! It’s a reminder of the power of female strength and that even our most loved actors rely on some support along the way.


Admiring the MVP of American Horror Story 

Lily Rabe has been the true MVP of the Ryan Murphy anthology American Horror Story. Her talent is even admired by her stunt double, Kimberly Shannon Murphy. On Instagram, Kimberly shared an amazing picture of the pair dressed in nun habits with the caption, “One of my favorite humans.” 

Source: Kimberly Shannon Murphy/Instagram

It’s clear that these two have a strong bond and respect for one another. Fans of American Horror Story certainly appreciate the hard work of both Lily and Kimberly. Another amazing example of the long lasting connection formed on set!