9 on-screen injuries that actually made it into the movie!

At Total Physiotherapy, we understand the consequences of work-related injuries better than most and offer occupational physiotherapy services across the UK. For most of us, these injuries develop from slips and falls, muscle strain, repetitive strain, heavy lifting and unergonomic work conditions.

Those working in the movie business may experience more peculiar work-related injuries, and as they say ‘the show must go on’. However, we’d recommend an initial diagnosis appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists!

So lights, camera, action – check out these # on-screen actor injuries that actually made it into the movie!

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

When filming a stunt for Mission: Impossible -Fallout, actor Tom Cruise broke his ankle. He apparently knew of the break straight away but really didn’t want to film the take again so instead, he got up and continued filming before being rushed to the hospital!

Dazed and Confused

Here’s another silver-screen ankle injury to add to the list. In the film Dazed and Confused, actor Ben Affleck, who plays a frustrated bully, can be very visibly seen twisting his ankle after chasing his teenage victims. With the cameras still rolling, Affleck remains in character and limps back to his vehicle!

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

As well as suffering from permanent hearing loss after being exposed to the noise of a gun being fired in an elevator, actor Linda Hamilton, who plays Sarah Connor in T2, experienced knee injuries on set. This was caused by Linda having to repeatedly fall on her knees after co-star Ken Gibbel kept making mistakes in the scene where he strikes her. However, both Hamilton and her character got their revenge when Sarah escapes from the hospital and hits Douglas with a broomstick as according to sources, those heavy blows are real!

The Exorcist

In 1973’s classic horror movie The Exorcist, actor Ellen Burstyn plays a mother terrorised by her possessed 12-year-old daughter. In one scene, Burstyn is brutally pushed to the ground and to achieve a realistic and hard impact she was attached to a wire pulled by a crew member. Despite protests from Burstyn that she could severely hurt herself, the final take, which turned out to be the shot the director chose to use, saw her permanently injure her back. 


Syriana may have won George Clooney an Academy Award, but it also left him in horrendous pain. During a torture scene where Clooneys CIA agent character is tied to a chair then pushed over, the actor can be seen to land on his head. This resulted in nearly a fortnight in hospital suffering from agonising, undiagnosed pain. Clooney’s friend and fellow actor Lisa Kudrow suggested he should see her neurologist brother who concluded that he was suffering from leaking spinal fluid. This could have proved fatal if not dealt with in time and unfortunately Clooney is said to still suffer from severe back pain.


Brad Pitts injuries in Se7en were so severe that the script needed to be reworked and edited to include his apparent injury in the storyline. His character ends up sporting a sling after the rainy chase scene where the actor hits his hand through a window and causes serious tendon damage.

Moulin Rouge

We encourage performers to break a leg, but when dancing in the Moulin Rouge movie, Nicole Kidman managed to break a rib and tear the cartilage in her knee. Kidman received some criticism for her moves in the film before revealing the extent of her injuries and explaining that certain scenes had to be shot with her sitting down to avoid the camera capturing her leg brace!


In the 2003 thriller Gothika, Robert Downey Jr and co-star/friend Halle Berry tried out some method acting during a scene where he had to restrain her. Unfortunately, it all got a little too real when Berry’s arm broke, and a ‘pop’ could be heard. Downey Jr stopped the scene immediately, and filming was put on hold for eight weeks while Berry healed from her injury.

The Godfather

During the street brawl scene in The Godfather, actor James Caan’s character Sonny Corleone seeks revenge on his sister’s abusive husband played by Gianni Russo. Caan throws Russo into some garbage cans. This actually caused some pretty painful injuries including broken ribs and a fractured shoulder, but like a true professional Russo continued with the fight scene taking a few more pretend punches. 

Honourable Mentions

Although unlikely to be treated by physiotherapists, these on-screen injuries that actually made it into the movie are still worth an honourable mention!

The 40-year-old Virgin – Yep, Steve Carell was waxed for real in that scene!

A Clockwork Orange – Actor Malcolm McDowell really did have his eyes forced open by metal hooks resulting in a sliced eyeball and almost a loss of vision. The man giving him eyedrops in the scene is a real eye doctor brought in to ensure his safety.

The Princess Bride – Carey Elwes’ Westley was actually knocked unconscious in that iconic scene and later woke up in the hospital!

Django Unchained – When Leonardo DiCaprio accidentally smashed a glass and cut his hand, he didn’t let it interrupt his characters rant and instead continued the scene bleeding.

Foxcatcher – When Channing Tatum’s character continually slams his head into a mirror, the protective coating breaks, along with the wall behind it, causing the actor to receive some nasty cuts during the scene.