Thanks to the #MeToo movement, we all know now that Hollywood is a nightmarish factory of horrors from which good movies occasionally escape, and occasionally you learn that not every celebrity you know is a monster.
Even the best days filming on set are filled with long hours, dozens of monotonous takes and retakes, pausing to move equipment, and a general “hurry-up-and-wait” mentality. It’s enough to drive anyone insane.
Occasionally, it actually does. Sometimes, the circumstances of filming or the demands of an overzealous and impossible-to-please directors drive actors and crew to their breaking point, and they consider walking off the set altogether and never working in Hollywood again. Of those that do, we can hardly blame them.
However, this is a list of those who came back after near-drownings, lacerations, and intense scenes that led to them to almost skipping out on the production for good.
When a director pushed them to their emotional and physical limits, they sucked it up, scrounged the depths of their souls for their last reserves of professionalism as actors, and managed to get the job done against all odds.
With that said, it's time to take a look at the 15 Scenes That Made Actors Want To Quit.
15 Stanley Kubrick Made Scatman Crothers Break Down While Filming The Shining
Stanley Kubrick has always been known as a fair and supportive director. Just kidding-- he was a living nightmare for even the most patient actors to weather, especially towards the end of his career. Preproduction would drag on for months or years, but it was during filming when he proved to be most difficult.
On The Shining, not only would he verbally berate Shelly Duvall to make her feel as though she were under attack, but he also made 70-year-old actor Scatman Crothers break down in tears by making him go through more than 60 takes of a scene where the camera does nothing but slowly zoom in on the actor.
The scene was so traumatic that even Jack Nicholson vowed never to work under Kubrick again. The all-time Guinness record goes to Shelly Duvall, though, who endured 127 takes of one scene.
14 James Cameron Almost Drowned Ed Harris on The Abyss
Filming underwater is a constant balancing act at the best of times, requiring massive amounts of coordination, safety measures, and preparation. Tip number one: try to make sure that no one drowns or gets hurt. James Cameron almost failed at doing this while filming The Abyss.
Ed Harris reportedly punched the director when he kept filming as the actor nearly drowned. Later, during a scene where his character resuscitates another character played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, James Cameron wouldn’t stop demanding retakes.
The main problem was that the scene involved Harris pounding on Mastrantonio’s chest and then slapping her in order to revive her over and over again while both are soaking wet and not wearing much clothing.
She finally stormed off set yelling, “We are not animals!” and wouldn’t come back until Cameron agreed to wrap up the scene.
13 Roger Moore Hated Christopher Walken’s Character Machine-Gunning Underlings In A View to a Kill
The late Roger Moore brought a camp, humorous take to his long Bond tenure, portraying the jet-setting secret agent as a charming, sophisticated playboy who would only occasionally stop to dish out some light judo between romancing.
It was a contrast to Connery’s colder, more brutish assassin, but popular enough that he still has the longest tenure in the role.
Age combined with a life-long distaste for violence led to his last outing as Bond in A View To A Kill. During the climactic flooding of a fault line, Christopher Walken’s diabolical Nazi-bred villain Max Zorin begins gleefully harming dozens of his helpless goons with an Uzi.
It is a scene which produced utter disgust from Roger Moore, who quipped, “That was not Bond.” To the end of his life, he remained a staunch anti-gun advocate.
12 Nobody Wanted To Do The Co-Ed Shower Scene In Starship Troopers
Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven has never been one to shy away from romantic or violent scenes in his movies. Robocop was originally rated "X" and had to be reedited 11 times before the MPAA would give it an R.
When Verhoeven was filming a shower scene for his severely underrated satire of fascism Starship Troopers, he made the rest of his cast squeamish.
Eventually everyone agreed to shoot the scene without clothing on except for one holdout who would only go on camera in the buff if the director and cinematographer agreed to strip down for the shower scene as well.
Verhoeven had no problem taking off his clothes, and his cinematographer just happened to have been born in a colony that was against clothing, so they happily stripped to their skivvies and got the shot.
11 Nichelle Nichols Hated Having To Deliver Xenophobic Dialogue in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Nichelle Nichols was smashing race barriers before most of us were in diapers, starring as Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek TV series. Most famously, she was part of the most famous interracial kiss in TV history.
She was even asked by Martin Luther King, Jr. to stay on the show as an example for African-Americans everywhere, and she took her pioneering attitude with her to NASA to help recruit women and people of color.
All those years of selfless dedication to civil rights were probably why she balked at her lines in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The movie centers on the crew of the Enterprise having to overcome their prejudices against Klingons, and Nichols’ character has some vaguely xenophobic lines that are directed towards the aliens.
Nichols adamantly refused to say the lines, and eventually it was Walter Koenig as Chekov who got them.
10 Winona Ryder Almost Drowned in Alien: Resurrection
A recurring theme in actors wanting to quit is being confronted with their greatest fear. For Winona Ryder, her biggest fear is drowning.
The actress had cut class to go to the beach with friends when she was 12, only to be caught in a riptide. She had no pulse when a lifeguard pulled her out of the water, but they managed to revive her with CPR.
She had a debilitating phobia of water from that day forward, only to have that fear flare up during filming of an extended underwater scene in Alien: Resurrection.
Ryder eventually overcame her fear enough after scuba training to perform the scenes, only to encounter complications during the shoot that led to another close call with drowning.
She wasn’t the only one, though -- Ron Perlman hit his head on a sprinkler on the way out of the water, rendering him unconscious, and had to be rescued.
9 Woody Brown Threw Up During Filming Of The Accused & Had To Be Reassured By Jodie Foster
The Accused is a hard movie for viewers to get through, as it adeals with the horrific assault of a working-class woman played by Jodie Foster, and her attempts to get her plight as a victim acknowledged, as the men who assaulted her and the men who cheered them on are tried in the courts.
Kelly McGillis plays the assistant district attorney who pursues justice for Foster’s character, and though her character gets vindication at the end, it’s a long journey for the main characters.
It turns out, though, that it was just as rough to film. In fact, it was an emotionally harrowing experience for all involved. Amazingly, the actors playing the assaulters seemed to have the toughest time, with Jodie Foster having to assure them that she would be fine but that they needed to play the scene realistically.
Even so, actor Woody Brown bolted from the set during filming and was found puking in his trailer.
8 John Savage Was Terrified of The Rats In His Submerged Cage In The Deer Hunter
When it came out, The Deer Hunter was praised for being one of the first Hollywood movies to examine the emotional and societal fallout from the Vietnam War, and for boasting the longest wedding scene in the history of human creation.
Surprisingly, the scenes that take place in Vietnam make up very little of the movie’s running time, but they’re the most iconic.
They involve the capture and psychological torture of the main characters played by Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage, who are forced to play Russian roulette while their comrades languish in submerged cages.
It turns out that the cages were full of rats, causing John Savage to freak out and scream, “Michael, there’s rats in here, Michael!” during filming. He was actually screaming at the director Michael Cimino, but since it added a lot of emotion and Robert DeNiro’s character was named Michael, they kept it in the movie.
7 Saoirse Ronan Had To Comfort Stanley Tucci During Filming Of The Lovely Bones
Stanley Tucci has brought a deft comedic touch to plenty of iconic supporting roles like his characters in The Hunger Games, The Devil Wears Prada, and Easy A, but he has serious dramatic acting chops as well.
He almost refused to use them in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones when he was considered for the role of the character who kills the main protagonist played by a young Saoirse Ronan.
Though he eventually accepted the role, he was never comfortable with it, describing the entire experience of playing George Harvey as “grueling.”
He distanced himself from his character, but nevertheless felt protective of his costar Ronan, and revealed that the two were constantly reassuring and checking on each other over the course of filming.
6 Uma Thurman Permanently Hurt Her Back and Neck Filming Kill Bill, Vol. 1
Hollywood has been embroiled in a transformative period where mostly male creators and executives are being taken to task for their abuses of power. It all started with Harvey Weinstein, and the latest chapter in the multi-novel series of his abuses came in February 2018 courtesy of Uma Thurman, as well as Quentin Tarantino.
On the set of Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Uma refused to ride in a convertible that a teamster warned her might be unsafe thanks to some suspected alterations. Tarantino persuaded her to do it, leading her to crash into a palm tree and injure her neck and knees permanently.
Her working relationship with him was shattered, and she spent the next 15 years in legal battles trying to get Harvey Weinstein’s production company Miramax to release footage of the incident, with his legal department refusing until early 2018.
5 Alan Tudyk Felt Physically Ill Playing A Xenophobic Character in 42
The movie 42 tells the groundbreaking story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League Baseball, and how his breaking the color line led to the desegregation of professional baseball.
The movie features Alan Tudyk from Rogue One and Firefly playing Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman, a red-faced ball of white-hot racism.
Anyone who’s seen an interview with Alan Tudyk knows that this is the complete opposite of his real-life personality, and the contrast took its toll on him.
He described filming some scenes of 42 as a “high-intensity stressful shoot," and that by the end he was in such a dark funk that on the second day of baseball diamond filming, he was unable to eat dinner afterwards, simply paying the check and leaving.
According to him, “I wasn’t fit for public consumption.”
4 Michael Madsen Couldn’t Bear The Other Actor’s Ad-Lib In A Scene Of Reservoir Dogs
Despite frequently playing gravelly-voiced gangsters and hitmen, in real life Michael Madsen is an accomplished poet and photographer with a deep aversion to violence.
This may come as a shock to people who’ve seen him in movies like Kill Bill or Reservoir Dogs, but on the set of the latter, he almost couldn’t finish a scene due to a carefully-placed ad-lib.
As Mr. Blonde, he tortures a captured and bound police officer by cutting his face, disfiguring him and covering him in gasoline, all set to the mellow '70s tune “Stuck In The Middle With You”.
During the scene, the actor playing the cop, Kirk Baltz, ad-libbed a line about having a kid at home as he begged for his life, and Michael Madsen was apparently so shaken that he almost couldn’t finish the scene, having an 18-month-old son at home himself.
3 A Lion Bit Noel Marshall’s Hand In Roar
Sometimes, you don’t have to be psychic to see a disastrous mess of a movie barreling toward you like a freight train.
Hollywood, though, is uniquely blind to easily-spottable train wrecks, and leading the pack (or pride, as it were) is Roar, conceived by Noel Marshall as a horror movie involving a researcher living amongst hundreds of jungle cats who proceed to attack his wife and kids.
The first red flag for his wife and co-star Tippi Hedren should have been when they decided to buy almost 150 jungle cats rather than renting them, housing them in a ranch outside of Los Angeles.
The remaining red flags should have been the constant life-threatening injuries, which included Noel Marhsall having a lion bite through his hand.
Melanie Griffith was also mauled several times and John Marshall had to have 56 stitches after getting his head caught in a lion’s maw.
2 Werner Herzog Threatened Klaus Kinski While Filming Aguirre: Wrath of God
Anything you can do, Werner Herzog can do crazier. So forget stories of directors demanding multiple takes, and forget actors almost drowning accidentally. Herzog will straight-up threaten to hurt you if you try to leave his movie.
His love/hate working relationship with legendarily actor Klaus Kinski is the stuff of legend, and it arguably culminated during the filming of Herzog’s 1972 jungle epic, Aguirre, The Wrath Of God.
Tempers were already running high thanks to the jungle heat and the fact that the entire crew threatened mutiny when they heard that Klaus Kinski was involved.
When Kinski tried to leave and quit the production, Herzog allegedly pulled a pistol and threatened to end Kinski's life-- as well as his own life-- if Kinski didn’t get back to the set.
Accounts vary, though-- according to Herzog, he had no gun, but threatened Kinski all the same.
1 Martin Sheen Got Extremely Intoxicated In Apocalypse Now
Between hurricanes, warring communist guerillas, and a too-big Marlon Brando, filming Apocalypse Now was a descent into madness for all involved.
However, only one person’s temporary descent into insanity was actually captured for posterity. It took place during the hotel scene where Martin Sheen’s character dissolves into a drunken, sobbing, bloody mess after punching his mirror.
It turns out that Martin Sheen really was a drunken, sobbing, bloody mess during filming. It was filmed on his 36th birthday, and he’s admitted in later interviews that he was an alcoholic at the time and so was fall-down “swacked” for the scene, having been drinking all day.
He was so horrified after the fact that he refused to even look at the footage for decades. Combine that with a heart attack later in filming that led them to use his twin brother as a body double, and it’s a wonder that he finished the movie alive.
Can you think of any other intense scenes that made actors want to quit? Let us know in the comments!
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