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Movie Stars Who Miraculously Escaped Death

The world of cinema would look vastly different if these actors were absent.

Martyna Janasik

23 April 2024

Movie Stars Who Miraculously Escaped Death

Here are the movie stars who escaped death when they became too immersed in their roles or life placed them in extreme situations.

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore narrowly escaped death twice. The first time was in 2001. The actress was at home with her then-husband Tom Green when a fire broke out. The fire spread so rapidly that the couple found themselves trapped inside. They were rescued by their dog. Due to severe carbon monoxide poisoning, Barrymore was hospitalized for some time. Sixteen years later, Drew had an accident on the set of the TV series Santa Clarita Diet. During filming a scene where she had to jump onto a man’s back, she slipped and hit her head forcefully on the concrete. Drew was immediately transported to the hospital, where she underwent various head scans, including a CT scan and an MRI, over the next 48 hours. The actress still considers this incident a traumatic and terrifying experience.

Miles Teller

miles teller top gun maverick

Miles Teller is one of the most recognizable actors today from the generation of stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley. However, fame didn’t come to him quickly because nobody wanted to hire a guy with scars on his face.

Teller’s scars are a “souvenir” from a car accident in 2007, which the actor narrowly escaped death from. “The paramedic later told me that I was very lucky because people usually don’t come out alive from such accidents. Statistically, 99.9 percent of participants in such accidents die,” Teller said in an interview with ABC News. Teller and his friend were returning from a music festival. His buddy was driving. At one point, he lost control of the car, and it flipped multiple times. Teller was ejected from the car through the windshield. He was found unconscious 15 meters from the wrecked car. He spent three weeks in the hospital and then some time in a cast. He also ended up with scars and two stones in his face that can be felt when touched. Over the years, Teller underwent laser treatments to reduce the scars. He also wanted to remove the stones from his face but gave up on the surgery after doctors told him it would leave two more large scars.

Teller never publicly revealed the name of the friend who was driving the car, and today Teller’s scars are his trademark, but for the young actor taking his first steps in Hollywood, they were a real torment. In interviews, the actor recalls that because of this, he often heard from casting directors that he was very talented and intriguing, but the characters he applied for didn’t have scars. Casting directors thought they disqualified him from playing lead roles. His scars didn’t overshadow his talent until Nicole Kidman. In 2010, he starred alongside her in the film Rabbit Hole. Three years later, he played the lead role in the Oscar-winning Whiplash.

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg, known for The Departed and The Fighter, was supposed to die in 2001. He had a ticket for a plane that crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. At the last moment, he decided to change his plans and instead of going to New York, he went to Toronto.

Joaquin Phoenix

joaquin phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix has been making headlines for several years now, thanks to his Oscar-winning role in the film Joker. Recently, there has also been talk about him due to the upcoming sequel to Joker and his role in an upcoming film by Polish director PaweĊ‚ Pawlikowski. However, this is not the first time Phoenix has been in the spotlight. The actor gained worldwide attention in 2005 when he portrayed Johnny Cash in the Oscar-nominated biopic Walk the Line. It was also during this time that Phoenix narrowly escaped death at the height of his fame. In 2006, he was involved in a car accident. The brakes in his car failed, and he collided head-on with another vehicle. Phoenix was saved by director Werner Herzog, who lived nearby the accident scene, helped the actor get out of the burning car, and called for emergency services.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Blood Diamond Leonardo DiCaprio Djimon Hounsou

Leonardo DiCaprio became a global star after his role in Titanic, which depicted the tragedy of 1912 when the supposedly unsinkable Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean. DiCaprio portrays a fight for survival against time and the elements in the film. Interestingly, water was one of the main characters in the events from which DiCaprio might not have emerged alive. During one of his trips to South Africa, Leonardo DiCaprio decided to swim in the ocean with sharks. Although the actor was enclosed in a cage, at one point it turned out that the cage, meant to protect him, had opened. One of the sharks managed to enter inside. DiCaprio lay flat on the bottom of the cage while the shark continued to try to bite him. Miraculously, the actor managed to escape unharmed.

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox

Back to the Future is one of the most iconic science fiction series. However, it almost became one of the most tragic due to an accident that occurred on the set of the final installment of the franchise. The legendary Michael J. Fox was close to death on the set of Back to the Future III during a scene where his character, Marty McFly, is hanged. This happened because Michael J. Fox insisted on performing the scene himself, without the help of a stunt double. The crew agreed, but on the condition that he master the stunt perfectly and know exactly where to place his hand when the noose was around his neck. Unfortunately, Fox made a mistake. He began to choke, and then lost consciousness. Help was rushed to him after someone realized that the actor was not pretending to choke and was close to death. The rope was immediately cut, and he was revived.

Sylvester Stallone

Demolition Man Sylvester Stallone

Liking Rocky? Me too! Sylvester Stallone loves him so much that he probably wanted to feel the real thing. That’s why he asked to be actually punched to avoid faking a knockout and to make the scene look natural. This happened during the filming of Rocky IV. Stallone asked Dolph Lundgren to “knock him out.” The resulting blow was so powerful that Stallone’s ribs and chest collapsed, causing his heart to be compressed due to pericardial effusion. The actor spent nine days in critical condition in the ICU after that.

Brendan Fraser

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor BRENDAN FRASER Evelyn O'Connell MARIA BELLO

Brendan Fraser is currently one of the hottest names in Hollywood and a newly minted Oscar winner thanks to his big comeback in The Whale. However, Fraser is no newcomer. He rose to worldwide fame with his role in The Mummy franchise. It was also on the set of the first installment of this franchise that the actor narrowly escaped death. Fraser survived an accident similar to the incident involving Michael J. Fox. Fraser needed resuscitation after a scene involving the hanging of his character went wrong, and the actor stopped breathing.

Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher is the wife of the famous comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and the leading actress in the hit Now You See Me, alongside Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jesse Eisenberg. In the mentioned film, the characters perform magical tricks. They play with illusion. One of the epic tricks is a scene where Isla Fisher’s character has to escape from a water-filled aquarium on her own before a group of hungry piranhas is released onto her. The actress narrowly escaped death during the filming of this scene. While shooting, the handcuffs got stuck, and she couldn’t get out. Everyone on set thought the actress was still acting out the scene and admired the realism of her terror, but the truth was that Isla was drowning. Fortunately, a stuntman noticed that she was really struggling and intervened to free her.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis There Will Be Blood

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most popular proponents of method acting, a technique in which the actor literally becomes the character. He may remain in character even after filming has ended because the process of leaving the character is gradual. However, there was a time when Daniel Day-Lewis pushed himself too far and brought his body to the brink of exhaustion. Known for fully immersing himself in his roles, even when the cameras are off, his method of work almost led him to death during the filming of Gangs of New York. Since the film is set in 1863, Daniel Day-Lewis only wore period-appropriate clothing. This led to him contracting pneumonia, but he remained in character and refused to take medication because there were no treatments for the disease in the mid-19th century. The actor agreed to take necessary medication when his condition became critical, and doctors told him that failing to do so could cost him his life.

Martyna Janasik

Martyna Janasik

Cultural studies scholar and writer. Enthusiast of food, cinema, and sports. Probably that's why some of her favorite movies are "Rocky" and "Julie and Julia". She always wanted to write, so she will always write. In her free time, she loves watching movies and playing tennis.

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