When it comes down to getting that perfect shot, filmmaking is often an extreme sport. While a miscalculated stunt here or a pyrotechnic mishap there is all par for the course, some productions have suffered more extreme catastrophes than others.
Between 1990 and 2014, at least 194 serious accidents and 43 fatalities have occurred on film and television sets in the United States alone, while some 37 international on-set fatalities were recorded between 2000 and 2016. There is no denying that show business is a dangerous business.
Rumours of supernatural on-set happenings have become synonymous with films like Poltergeist and The Omen, significantly contributing to their notoriety. Yet, it is tangible, real-world horrors that pose the true threat. It is inevitable that at some point, human error will cause a prop to be misused or a piece of machinery to fail. No matter how innocent the mistake, the consequences can be terrible and far-reaching.
From decapitation-causing stunts to ill-fated games of Russian roulette, the many outlandish things that have happened on film and television sets over the years prove that filmmaking is not an art to be trifled with.
10. Channing Tatum Burns Off The Skin Of His Penis For The Eagle
In 2011, Channing Tatum swapped sweat-soaked tank tops for Roman armour as he took on the starring role in Kevin Macdonald’s historical epic The Eagle. Desperate to be viewed as a serious actor, Tatum threw himself into the role of centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila body and soul. However, only his soul was destined to leave the set unscathed.
The film follows Tatum's character as he embarks on a journey to recover the eagle standard of the missing Ninth Roman Legion, to which his father belonged. With Papa Aquila’s decorative stick always in mind, Marcus repeatedly risks his life, braving violence and the elements to succeed in his quest.
At one point, Marcus decides to drown his adversary, the imaginatively named Seal Prince, in a river. To make the experience of filming in freezing conditions more pleasant for the actors, a mixture of boiling water and cold river water was poured down their suits to keep them warm. Yet, during one of the takes, a crew member forgot to add cold water to the mix, much to the chagrin of Tatum’s genitals. That is how the man who would later become Magic Mike had the skin of his penis burnt off for the sake of a film that received only middling reviews at best.