The Lord of the Rings: Memorable Accidents

•December 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment


The Lord of the Rings, perhaps the most successful trilogy of its time, first appeared on screen in 2001.  Packed with countless action scenes and special effects, The Lord of the Rings serves as an excellent source of entertainment for many.  Although no fatal accidents occurred during the filming of this movie, many of the actors experienced painful injuries that perhaps made the filming of this movie even more memorable for them.


During The Fellowship of the Ring, there were many on set injuries.  One of these accidents occurred while filming a fight scene, where Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) lost a tooth.  During his lunch break, Mortensen went to the dentist to get his tooth fixed up, and resumed working on the film later that day.  Another accident occurred in the scene that details Gandalf’s visit to Bilbo and his hobbit house.  Ian Mckellan, who plays Gandalf, accidentally banged his head on the ceiling, but played it off so well that this mishap was actually included in the movie.

While filming The Two Towers, Orlando Bloom (Legolas) suffered a few broken ribs after being thrown off a horse.  Brett Beattie (Gimli’s scale double) somehow injured his knee, while Mortensen broke his tow in an earlier scene after kicking a steel helmet.  While still recovering from injuries, all three actors later filmed a scene that detailed them running after the Orcs, but because they appreciated the art of the film, they decided to continue work regardless of their pain.


For Bloom, however, on set injury is just a part of the job.  Bloom has broken almost every bone in his body thanks to his audacious childhood and acting career.  Some of these injuries include having cracked his skull three times, breaking his back after falling off a roof, receiving broken ribs due to falling off a horse, and breaking his nose and both of his legs, among other injuries.

Many scenes throughout this trilogy presented challenges to the stunt coordinator, George Ruge, which includes the scene for the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers.  The primary challenge of this shoot was to make the scene as realistic as possible while still keeping it safe for the actors.  This was extremely difficult for Ruge because it was often raining and the set was built into a rock quarry.  All of the filming was done at night, and according to Ruge, most of the actors received a sprained ankle here and there, or a few cuts, which was hard to avoid considering the location and intense fighting scenes.


Text Sources:


Picture Sources


Premium Rush: The Bike Crash

•November 30, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an American actor known for his wide-ranging roles in movies such as Angels in the Outfield, Inception, and (500) Days of Summer.

If one simply recalls the number of hits that Joseph Gordon Levitt has starred in this past summer, including movies such as The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, and Looper, it is no surprise that Gordon-Levitt was involved in some kind of onset accident.  Each of these movies required stunts on behalf of Gordon-Levitt, including the various fighting scenes throughout Looper, and the intense bike riding scenes throughout the city of New York in Premium Rush.

Joseph Gordon Levitt

While filming Premium Rush in New York City on August 1, 2010, Gordon-Levitt was injured.  A scene was being shot where Gordon-Levitt had to cycle profusely throughout the city, and unfortunately, Gordon-Levitt ended up badly injured thanks to a diplomat who had driven through an area that was off limits.  Because New York City is home to the United Nations, the city is peppered with diplomats, which is the least likely person you would expect to break the law and enter a zoned off area.  As a result, Gordon-Levitt ended up smashing through the back of a taxicab, cutting his arm to pieces.  Gordon-Levitt received 31 stitches, but was back on set to work the next day.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this accident is that the footage actually made it into the movie, which was encouraged by Gordon-Levitt.   Looking back, the director, David Koepp, decided that it was a terrible idea to put actors into a situation where they are riding their bikes in New York City during high traffic hours, because someone is bound to get hurt.


High intensity training was required for all of the actors who undertook the challenge of Premium Rush, which involved cycling for six weeks, five days a week.  This was a huge challenge for some of the actors, such as Wole Parks, who claims that he has barely ever ridden a bike.  The actors had to get used to falling, because they did this quite often.  Fitness and biking technique were the areas focused on during training, which is extremely crucial for those riding in New York City traffic.

Text Sources:



Picture Sources:

Gone in 60 Seconds: A Stunt Gone Too Far

•November 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

H.B. Halicki was a producer, actor, and stuntman, whose love of cars influenced him to eventually own his own auto body shop at the age of 17.  Halicki later bought an auto store, an auto salvage company, and also joined the real estate industry.  Halicki wrote the film Gone in 60 Seconds, also starring in and producing the movie.

H.B. Halicki is best known for the action films that he made, and was known to many of his fans as ‘The Car Crash King’.  Halicki’s Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) is a movie about a group of car thieves who must steal 48 cars for a drug lord in a limited amount of time, which ultimately leads to chaos.  In Gone in 60 Seconds, Halicki’s most notable car chase destroyed 100 cars.

During the filming of Gone in 60 Seconds 2 in 1989, which was also soon after Halicki’s marriage to Denice Shakarian, one of the most deadly stunts was to be performed in Tonawanda, New York.  During this stunt, a 161 foot water tower was supposed to collapse; support cables were hooked to a bulldozer because one leg of the water tower had been purposely disconnected for the shot.  Unfortunately, the tower fell too soon and ended up crushing Halicki.

Because this stunt was extremely serious, the town that the stunt was to be filmed in demanded an 8 million dollar certificate of insurance.  Soon after the accident, a high level of controversy arose as to whether the stunt should have been performed, being that it was obviously much too dangerous for most people to even consider.

Many experts claim that this stunt could have been done on a small scale model, which would have ensured the safety of all involved.  Because of this disaster and similar incidents, the movie making industry has become much more strict on the level of danger allowed in certain stunts.  As a result, thanks to new forms of technology, much of the danger that was once associated with stunts can now be simulated through software design programs, completely eliminating incidents similar to what caused the death of Halicki.  Many producers have utilized this new technology to create realistic graphics of falling buildings and other infrastructure within their movies.  Two popular movies of 2012, Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, both utilized digital software programs to get the effects that many directors of the past were forced to manually recreate.

 Prometheus (2012)

 The Dark Night Rises (2012)


Text Sources:


Picture Sources:

The Wizard of Oz: Rumors and Burns

•November 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

There are various rumors of alleged movie set accidents that are said to have taken place during the filming of The Wizard of Oz.  One of the most famous rumors is that one of the characters who played a munchkin hung himself, which some say can be seen while watching the film.  This rumor was started around 1980, so whether there is any truth behind it or not is based entirely on opinion.

One of the stories behind this suicide is that the person playing this character was in love with another munchkin actor, and when his love was not returned, he hung himself.

This however, according to experts, was not actually the case.  Some say that the set designer borrowed various types of birds to make the set more realistic, so one of the birds in the background can explain the swinging figure that is seen in the film.  Several other rumors claim that the director’s daughter hung herself after not being cast the lead role.


One movie set accident that did take place while filming The Wizard of Oz, however, involved actor Margaret Hamilton.  In a scene detailing Hamilton’s exit from Munchkinland, the dropping of a trap door was delayed so that it would not be shown in the film.  The special effects of the scene were supposed to have been triggered as Hamilton stepped onto the trap door.  As the door fell, which was hidden by rising smoke, real fire was to come up.  This turned out to be a terrible strategy because it ultimately caused a blaze of fire, which resulted in the burning of Hamilton.  Hamilton suffered from second degree burns on her right hand, and first degree burns on the side of her face.  Because of the burns, Hamilton had to heal for six weeks before returning to film The Wizard of Oz.

It has been said that Hamilton considered suing the makers of The Wizard of Oz, but decided against it.  Hamilton knew that if she did sue, then she would never work in the industry again—everyone knows one another and she would be given a bad name.  Hamilton did say, however, that she would never work with fire again, which is understandable considering the amount of pain she went through for the role of the Wicked Witch of the West.



Text Sources:

Picture Sources:,,20483133_20509776_20988502,00.html


Batman: A Cursed Series

•November 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Batman series has produced eight movies, all of which have proven to be great successes.  The latest batman movies, The Dark Knight in 2008, and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, are said to be cursed, with various accidents taking place before and after the movies were shot.

One of the main actors of The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger, died on January 22, 2008, just six months before the release of the film.  Ledger’s death was said to have been caused by the abuse of several prescription drugs; Ledger was experiencing sleeping difficulties during the shooting of this film.  In preparation for his role as the Joker, Ledger took many actions to prepare for his part, one of which involves keeping a journal that includes things the joker would find funny.  Some of the disturbing ideas written in this journal include blind babies, and AIDS.  This in itself shows the lengths that Ledger took for this role, and how this may have contributed to a slight personality change for him in real life.  In addition, in the time before the film began recording, Ledger hid in a hotel room for about six weeks to really create the joker, introducing new attributes such as posture and voice.

What is probably the most important is that Jack Nicholson, who played the joker in the Batman movie of 1989, warned Ledger of this role.  Nicholson reportedly took Ambien during the filming of Batman, and almost drove off a cliff, so he is an expert in the consequences of what this role can do to someone.

Although The Dark Knight experienced its difficulties, The Dark Knight Rises introduced tragedies of its own.  In Aurora, Colorado, on opening night of The Dark Knight Rises, a gunman appeared out of the darkness and began shooting at the crowd, ultimately killing twelve people and injuring fifty.  The gunman was later found out to be twenty four year old James Holmes.  Before shooting at the crowd, Holmes released noxious gas, and later when questioned, Holmes claimed that he was the joker.

Other accidents that give the Batman films their cursed name include special effects technician Conway Wickliffe, who was on a camera truck filming when the truck crashed into a tree, ultimately resulting in Wickliffe’s death in October of 2007.

Additionally, while filming The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh, the stunt double for Anne Hathaway’s character, Cat woman, crashed into expensive camera equipment.

Morgan Freeman, who plays Lucius Fox, is also said to have experienced this curse when he was involved in a car wreck in August of 2008.  The car ended up flipping several times before landing in a ditch.


Text Sources:–How-Batman-franchise-plagued-tragedy.html,2933,325208,00.html


Picture Sources:

The Passion of the Christ: A Cursed Film

•November 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Passion of the Christ is a film directed by Mel Gibson about the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life, released in 2004.  This film goes as far as to cover Jesus’ resurrection, which makes for an interesting account of the life of perhaps the most popular biblical idol in history.  Another feature of this movie that makes it even more appealing would be that it was filmed in the ancient languages of Latin and Aramaic, with English subtitles.

Most actors understand the dangers in taking on roles that require scenes with excessive violence or dangerous stunts, but in The Passion of the Christ, many of these scenes quickly got out of hand.  Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus, was victim to various accidents while filming for this movie.

A few of the accidents that occurred include Caviezel suffering from hypothermia while shooting in the winter, as well as pneumonia, a dislocated shoulder, and accidentally being thrashed during a whipping scene.  Although these mishaps appear brutal, one accident involving Caviezel and assistant director Jan Michelini was so unexpected that it was actually considered a sign from God.  Both Caviezel and Michelini were struck by lightning during the filming of the scene of the Sermon on the Mound.  Luckily, neither Michelini or Caviezel were injured, although this was the second time that Michelini had been struck.

Because this is a movie of strong religious conviction, there are many people in opposition to this film, as well as those who enjoy it.  The Passion of the Christ is a very controversial movie due to its high level of violence and graphic scenes, which according to some, even go as far as to insinuate that the death of Jesus was caused by Jews.  Some critics believe that the brutality of this film takes away from the main message, which to many, is a story of redemption.  This causes greater problems, considering much of this film is said to have been derived from actual bible material, including writings of the New Testament, such as Mark, Luke, John, and Matthew.  Because this movie contains highly religious content, if certain scenes were exaggerated to fit Hollywood’s habit of stretching the truth for entertainment, then many people might have been offended upon the release of this film.

Other situations that add to the rumor of this film being cursed would be that since the release of this film, both Mel Gibson and Jim Caviezel have suffered from major career blows.

Although the filming of this movie did not cause any deaths, this story makes it into my blog because of its strong impact on the surrounding religious community.  If anything has been learned from this film, it is that motion pictures of severe controversial religious material will always receive varied feedback, which might deter some directors from tackling this topic.


Text Sources:


Picture Sources:

The Twilight Zone: A Real Scare

•November 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment


As if the movie Twilight wasn’t eerie enough, one accident during the filming of this classic made this film even more frightening. Vic Morrow was a renowned actor in movies such as Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, and The Bad News Bears.

On July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow and two children, Renee Shin-Yi Chen, who was six years old, and Myca Dinh Lee, who was seven, were working on the final shot for the film.  The scene is set with Vic Morrow carrying these two children across a shallow river.

In this film, Morrow plays a bigot who travels through time.  In this particular scene, Morrow’s character was supposed to be rescuing Vietnamese children to redeem himself.  This scene was being shot in Los Angeles, at an old motorcycle track, Indian Dunes Park.

Dorcey Wingo, a Vietnam veteran, was in charge of the helicopter.  Although he had real life experience with the kind of explosions being employed on set, they instilled terror in him.  Regardless of how he felt, he continued on as one of the directors of the film, John Landis, was known as being harsh on set.


The real tragedy began as pyrotechnic fire consumed Wingo’s helicopter, which ultimately brought him down.  Unfortunately, this helicopter landed in the river that Vic Morrow and the two children were moving through, crushing Renee and slicing through Morrow and Myca.

As a result, several people involved with the film, including Landis, Wingo, and even Warner Bros. faced involuntary manslaughter charges.  What makes matters worse is that child labor laws at the time states that children were not to be working past curfew, and a teacher welfare worker was supposed to be there when the kids worked.  Landis could have sought out a waiver so that the kids could legally work later, but many claim that Landis thought that the waiver would not be approved because the children were to be around explosives.  In addition, Marci Liroff and Michael Fenton of Fenton-Feinberg Casting made sure to tell Landis that child care laws prohibited these children from working late hours, and also that these children were considered extras because they had no speaking parts; because these children were not actors, they could not be hired by Fenton-Feinberg Casting.  Critics also say that Fenton’s response was a way for him to avoid getting caught up in this situation.

In order to have these children in the movie, Landis decided to pay the children in cash, this not putting their names on the payroll, and breaking the law.

In the end, Landis, Wingo, and the others were acquitted, with Landis resuming his movie-making career.

Text Sources:

Picture Sources:,0,