8 Insanely Dangerous Film Shoots That Nearly Killed Their Stars

3. Martin Sheen Has A Heart Attack (And Loads Worse) - Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is almost a byword for a troubled film shoot. There€™s even a documentary titled Heart Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse that details the making of; it seems like anything that could go wrong did go wrong. The shoot was originally supposed to last five months, but it eventually ended up filming for over a year. Harvey Keitel was originally cast as the lead, but was fired by director Francis Ford Coppola after a week and Martin Sheen replaced him. Typhoons destroyed costly sets and frequently delayed filming. The helicopters used for the village raid scene were on loan from the Philippine Army and were often called away when they were needed to fight in a real war. Dennis Hopper was at the height of his drug addiction at the time, and was a babbling mess during most of his scenes. In summary, making Apocalypse Now was no fun. This is particularly true for Coppola, who had a lot of his own money invested in it, so he had to keep going no matter how hectic it got or face bankruptcy. The stress of the shoot eventually led to Sheen, a heavy drinker at the time, having a heart attack. He had to crawl about half a mile afterwards to find help. He had to be doubled by his brother Joe in a couple of scenes, and he returned to set after a few weeks. Time in that hospital bed must have felt like blessed relief from making the movie though.
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