No action movie or even action comedy would be complete without some amazing, death-defying stunts – even if the whole audience knows nobody was ever really in harm’s way. But what if they were? The truth is, stuntmen and women are often asked to put their health on the line – so it’s only right that movie fans recognize their risks. Here are 10 Most Dangerous Stunts Performed in Movies.
Live and Let Die
In the long history of James Bond films, 007 has pulled off some ridiculous escapes. But none is harder to believe than in Live & Let Die, when the spy finds himself surrounded by crocodiles – and decides to just run across their backs to safety. The craziest part? A stuntman actually did it. No surprise, one of the crocs managed to bite him on the FOURTH take, but he still had one left in him – the shot you see in the film.
James Cameron is famous for being a ruthless director, so when he felt something was missing from the helicopter chase in Terminator 2, the pilot flying it had an idea: forget just missing an overpass – he could fly the helicopter UNDER it. Cameron was convinced, but the crew wasn’t. They were so sure the stunt wasn’t worth the risk, Cameron has to find a driver while he filmed the helicopter personally. Can’t argue with the results.
The French Connection
As the first R-Rated movie to win the BEst Picture Oscar, the French Connection isn’t best-known for its stunts. But when the film’s chase scene called for star Gene Hackman’s character to speed through New York following a train, they didn’t overthink it. Without any permits or precautions, the director hopped into the car with a stunt driver and a camera man wrapped in pillows, and tore off. Every close call is for real – including that bystander who got a little too close – but luckily walked away (the crash).
Sure, there may be plenty of CG to thank for James Bond’s modern stunts, but the opening action of Skyfall is more real than you realize. As in… it’s completely real. Actors were really put on a moving train, scrambled on top of it, and even watched as it was torn to pieces around them. Which means playing 007, and actually being him aren’t all that different.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
No movie fan can forget the opening of Indiana Jones’ first adventure, fleeing an ancient tomb with a massive boulder rolling on his heels. Massive, yes – but made out of fibreglass for the shoot. Still, the ball really was rolling behind star Harrison Ford, and weighed close to half a ton. In hindsight. director Steven Spielberg admitted it was an insane idea to put Ford in harm’s way, since disaster could have struck over the smallest mistake.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
How do you top climbing up the side of the world’s tallest skyscraper? If you’re Tom Cruise, you strap yourself to an airplane and hang on for dear life. For Rogue Nation, Cruise committed to the film’s opening number, attached to a real airplane with a single safety line, and wearing special contacts to protect his eyes as it took off and flew to 5,000 feet before landing. At one point he worried a pebble had actually tore through his skin – but apparently it knew who it was messing with, and just bounced off harmlessly.
Mission: Impossible 2
Tom Cruise’s stunts may have gotten bigger with Mission: Impossible sequels, but that doesn’t mean they’re crazier. That honor might go to the first sequel, when a fight scene required the villain to swing a knife within an inch of Cruise’s eyeball. But why rely on CG when you can do it for real, with a steel cable guaranteed to stop the blade just short of killing your star? It’s almost impossible to believe, but it really did happen.