Ben Affleck or Matt Damon once said something like “even bad movies are really hard to make.” As much as we bitter folk love to Roker all over Hollywood insiders for their vapid lifestyles and industry, it’s important to remember cast and crew members get killed on the job all the time. I don’t have the statistics to prove the “all the time” part, but if you Google “died on a movie set” tons of stories come up. Tons. Probably this one, too.
I’m not talking about just stuntmen either. Those people are paid to risk their lives. Tragedy has befallen regular people and actors, maybe even caterers. Please think of this an in memoriam for those who lost their lives in really awful ways during production.
1. John Jordan, Catch-22
The second unit director fell 2,000 over the Gulf of Mexico after getting sucked out of an open door on a plane. (He wasn’t wearing a harness.) Three years earlier, Jordan had one of his legs amputated after a rotor blade from a helicopter cut him while filming “You Only Live Twice.” Some have speculated he had a death wish.
2. Vic Morrow, Twilight Zone: The Movie
Morrow was decapitated by a helicopter that crashed on him and two child actors during what a Vietnam War scene. His line was supposed to be “I’ll keep you safe, kids. I promise. Nothing will hurt you, I swear to God.”
3.Art Scholl, Top Gun
The 53-year old stunt pilot performed an upside-down spin while picking up aerial footage for Tony Scott’s bromance when he crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Other airmen heard Scholl mutter his last words “I’ve got a problem here” over the radio.
4. Brandon Lee, The Crow
Bruce Lee’s son was shot and killed while filming a gunfire scene for the comic book movie. There were supposed to be only blanks in the weapons used, but, once a 44-caliber bullet was found in Lee’s body, everyone suspected murder. One month later, the district attorney concluded the cause of death was negligence on part of the crew.
5. Conway Wickliffe, The Dark Knight
The stunt technician was holding a camera while being driven in a Nissan 4×4 trying to film the chase scene where the Batmobile blows up. The Nissan failed to make a 90-degree turn in time and crashed 20mph into a tree.
6. Kun Liu, The Expendables 2
The stand-in for Jet Li didn’t recover from an explosion while filming on location in October 2011. Liu’s parents filed a lawsuit against Millennium Films for damages last summer.
7. The Crocodile Hunter, Ocean’s Deadliest
A stingray barbed Steve Irwin’s heart in 2006 while he was underwater filming the nature documentary. Watch footage of his death on YouTube if you want here.
8. Jon-Erik Hexum, Cover Up
During a delay in production, the 26 year-old was bored and decided to play faux Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum. The blank bullet cartridge that he fired at his right temple caused a severe hemorrhage and, almost a week later,he was declared brain dead.
10. Martha Mansfield, The Warrens of Virginia
The silent film star was resting inside a car in between takes when a passerby lit a cigarette and accidentally flicked the match into the automobile. The match landed on Martha’s costume, which was a giant (and flammable) Civil War-era dress that went up in flames. She died in the hospital from severe burns the next day.