The life of a movie star is not all red carpets and caviar. Blood, sweat, and tears make up those roles we admire on screen. We know that everyone tries to get the scenes perfect, but sometimes it just doesn’t pan out –as Tom Cruise recently discovered on the set of Mission Impossible: Fallout…
Snaps to Cruise for doing his own stunts on the action-packed thrill ride that promises to be the new Mission Impossible. The 55-year old has consistently dedicated his body to the death-defying stunts of the franchise and while it’s safe to assume that he’s bruised and broken limbs in the past, the fact that he broke his ankle on screen still made headlines last week. The stunt involved Cruise being rigged up and leaping from one building to another –a pretty standard action move- but Cruise missed the landing, twisted his ankle a way nature never intended, and proceeded to get up and continue running. What makes the story more interesting is that the shot was then kept in the film!
This is not the first time an accident’s made the final cut and it certainly won’t be the last. Whether it’s a director paying homage to the suffering of their actors or whether that take was really the best one, there are many ‘magic’ moments in cinema that have been the result of accidents and flukes.
Tom Cruise is not the first person to have an injury immortalised on screen. Whilst filming The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Viggo Mortensen broke two toes as he kicked a helmet towards the camera and then thrust his pain into the scene’s emotional context. Leonardo DiCaprio’s bloody hand during his monologue in Django Unchained (2012) was an unplanned result of smashing his hand on a glass and refusing to break character –it looked so cool that Tarantino kept it in. Darryl Hannah was a skilled gymnast when she did Blade Runner (1982), but that didn’t stop her from chipping her elbow in eight places after slipping and smashing through a car window. Speaking of broken glass, remember that iconic bedroom scene in Apocalypse Now (1979) where Martin Sheen punched the mirror? It wasn’t in the script and he was intoxicated while filming, so yeah that’s real blood he smears across his face.
Of course it’s not just injuries that creep into the final cut. How about that classic scene in The Dark Knight (2008) when the Joker blows up the hospital? It was supposed to be one giant explosion, but not all the bombs went off when Heath Ledger pushed the button. Keeping in character Ledger fiddled with the detonator and then bolted when the rest of the explosion finally happened. The promotional material for Casino Royale (2006) would have been very different if nature hadn’t intervened. The scene at the beach where Daniel Craig shows off his chiseled abs wasn’t meant to happen. Craig struck an awkwardly situated sand bank that forced him to stand up rather than keep swimming –of course that was the money shot that got plastered everywhere.
Dustin Hoffman’s iconic line “I’m walkin’ here” from Midnight Cowboy (1969) was the happy result of filming with hidden cameras – they didn’t have permits- and almost being hit by a taxi that ran a red light. Finally there’s the question of who shot Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs (1992). One of cinema’s most famous mishaps the infamous Mexican standoff has been a source of dispute for years, but was really just a huge fluke. According to the script both Joe and Eddie were supposed to be shot by Mr. White however, Chris Platt’s (Eddie) squib went off early. If you watch the scene in slow-motion Harvey Keitel turns and fires at Platt in an attempt to cover the screw-up, but barely makes it. Tarantino found the mistake so amusing that he kept it in so audiences would have something to talk about!
While most historic cinema is the fruit of many artists’ toil it’s fair to say that a portion of it is just dumb luck and though broken bones and malfunctioning equipment might take away some of the film’s mastery, it sure as hell makes for an interesting story!
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