10 On-Set Injuries That Forever Changed Actors

Taking suffering for your art to a whole new level.

Syriana George Clooney
Warner Bros.

You might assume that when dealing with such a precious commodity as a highly bankable and talented Hollywood actor, moviemakers would handle them with the utmost care. Well, it turns out Hollywood health and safety policies ain’t sh*t because on-set accidents and injuries are more commonplace than you’d think.

Maybe it just comes with the territory for those working in the risky business that is show. When you’re running around pretending to be everything from assassins to CIA agents on film sets that are simulating explosions and other such stunts around every corner a few bumps and bruises are probably to be expected.

Some on-set ouchies are quite easily walked off – bruises fade, bones fix and wounds heal, after all. Other actors, however, aren’t so lucky and have sustained injuries so serious that they’ve caused lasting and sometimes permanent damage to their bodies.

The trappings of show business no doubt cushion the blow of those injuries somewhat but there’s only so much Academy Awards, fan adoration and massively inflated wage packets can compensate for … especially when you’re left with mangled bones, permanent scars and missing body parts.

10. Heidi Von Beltz – The Cannonball Run

Syriana George Clooney
20th Century Fox

Budding actress, former champion skier, and stuntwoman in training Heidi von Beltz’s life was forever changed following a devastating injury she sustained during the filming of the 1981 comedy The Cannonball Run on which she was acting as a stunt double for star Farrah Fawcett.

Von Beltz’s task that fateful day was to sit in the passenger side of an Aston-Martin and help operate a smoke machine that would give the effect of the car being on fire as it sped along weaving between oncoming vehicles. The only problem was that the car didn’t have seatbelts so when it accidentally crashed into a van, von Beltz was launched through the windshield which broke her neck and left her quadriplegic.

After a lengthy court battle, von Beltz was awarded a rather paltry $3.2 million most of which went towards paying off a mountain of legal and medical bills. One good thing that arose from von Beltz’s accident though was that the film industry established new safety guidelines that made seatbelts mandatory on all car-related stunt work – a fact von Beltz was very proud of before her death in 2015 at the age of 59.


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