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Hollywood health and safety horrors

Think workplace safety concerns only impact employees in traditional workplaces and industries? Think again. Even well-known Hollywood stars can be impacted by a lack of due diligence in their workplaces.

Here are some of the celebrities who have been involved in a serious workplace accident:

Tragic end for Bruce Lee’s son Brandon on set of “The Crow”


Brandon Lee in “The Crow”

Brandon Lee’s film career was on the rise when he was cast as the lead in the film “The Crow.” The 28-year-old Lee died of a fatal gunshot wound due to an on-set mishap on March 31, 1993. Weeks prior to filming a scene in which Lee’s character was to be shot repeatedly, another scene had been filmed that showed bullets being loaded into the handgun. Rather than using dummy rounds, inexperienced crew members used real ammunition. Although they removed the real bullets and gun powder, a bullet had inadvertently become lodged in the barrel. Later while filming the fateful scene, the explosive charge of the blank propelled the lodged bullet as if the gun had been loaded with a live round, resulting in the fatal accident. Five hours of surgery were not able to save the young actor.  Producers eventually decided to complete the film and release it in 1994.  (Source:

Accident on set of “Twilight Zone” movie leads to three deaths


The crashed helicopter on the set

One of the most infamous Hollywood tragedies occurred during the making of the 1982 theatrical film version of the classic “Twilight Zone” series.

One of the movie segments had actor Vic Morrow’s character travel back in time to the Vietnam War where he discovers two young Vietnamese children left behind when a U.S. helicopter appears to be shooting at them. Morrow was to take both children under his arms and escape out of the village as the hovering helicopter destroyed the village with multiple explosions.

The helicopter pilot had trouble navigating through the fireballs created by pyrotechnic effects for the sequence.  The explosions caused the low-flying helicopter to spin out of control and crash land on top of Morrow and the two children as they were crossing a small pond away from the village mock-up. Morrow (aged 53), Myca Dinh Le (aged 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (aged 6) were killed instantly.


Actor Vic Morrow

The accident led to civil and criminal action against the film’s director John Landis, pilot Dorsey Wingo, production manager Dan Allingham, producer George Folsey, Jr. and explosives specialist Paul Stewart that lasted for several years. Ultimately, all were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in 1987. Morrow’s children, including actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, and the families of the two children sued Warner Brothers and producer Steven Spielberg and settled out of court for undisclosed amounts.

As a result of the accident, regulations were changed involving children working on movie sets at night (the accident had occurred around 2 a.m.) and during special effects scenes. (Source:

Not so “good” for Kristin Chenoweth on set of “The Good Wife”


Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth, the petite star of Broadway’s “Wicked” and TV’s “Glee” was seriously injured on the set of “The Good Wife” on July 11, 2012 when a gust of wind caused lighting equipment to hit her in the face and knock her to the pavement during an outdoor shoot. She hit her head on the concrete curb and was knocked unconscious. The actress has recovered but later shared that she has “a skull fracture and a rib issue and a hip issue.”

The accident caused the show to cut short her character’s extended arc and create alternate plots for the season.  (Source:

A thoroughly “un-sexy” injury for People’s “Sexiest Man Alive”


Channing Tatum

During filming a scene for the 2011 film “The Eagle” which required its actors to wade into freezing water in a wet suit, Channing Tatum suffered severe burns to his most private parts.

Attempting to keep the actors warm, crew members were pouring a mix of boiling water and the river water down the actors’ suits. Unfortunately, a crew member had forgotten to dilute the kettle water meant for Tatum and poured scalding hot water down on his suit.

He was rushed to the hospital, put on morphine, and eventually healed. Considering that People’s Sexiest Man and his wife are now expecting their first child, we assume all is well in the Tatum household. (Source: Huffington Post)


Ironic injury for “Troy” star Brad Pitt


Brad Pitt in Troy

While filming the 2004 film “Troy,” actor Brad Pitt (who was playing the character of Achilles) tore his Achilles tendon when he landed the wrong way during a fight scene.

The injury delayed filming for three months and also impacted the start of Pitt’s next film, Ocean’s Eleven.  (Source:


Does Clooney think Oscar-winning role was worthy it?


George Clooney in Syriana

Movie star George Clooney won his first Academy Award for his role in 2005’s Syriana, however a mishap during  the filming a torture scene in the movie caused the actor to suffer a severe back injury.

The pain was so intense that Clooney even considered taking his own life, according to a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Luckily, Clooney would eventually undergo successful surgery to fix the injury.

Halle Berry’s numerous workplace accidents


Halle Berry with broken arm

Oscar-winning beauty Halle Berry is no stranger to on-set injuries. During the filming of the 2003 film “Gothika” she broke her arm shooting a scene that required her to be restrained by co-star Robert Downey, Jr. “It was in a scene that didn’t involve any stunts, Robert twisted my arm the wrong way and it just…broke,” she said. “But we’re friends. It was an accident.” Filming was halted for 8 weeks in order for the injury to improve and Berry later finished shooting the movie with a small cast from her elbow to her wrist.

Berry also damaged her eye while shooting an action sequence for the James Bond drama “Die Another Day” in 2002 and was taken to hospital after smashing her head on lights during a night shoot for 2004’s “Catwoman.” (Source: Netscape)

Other unfortunate movie set injuries

Nicole Kidman suffered a broken rib while when co-star Ewan McGregor accidentally dropped her while filming 2001’s Moulin Rouge. The injury was further aggravated two weeks later when she tried to wearing a corset again.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt drove his bicycle into the back of a taxi cab window while filming the 2012 film “Premium Rush” in New York. The collision resulted in a pretty large cut that required the actor to receive 31 stitches.

Robert Downey Jr. injured his ankle during the filming of 2013’s Iron Man 3 and production was temporarily halted.

Hilary Swank was injured by an unhooked suspender during a strip tease scene with co-star Gerard Butler while they were making 2007’s “P.S., I Love You.”

Russell Crowe seriously injured his shoulder while shooting 2000’s “Gladiator” and then re-injured it while preparing to shoot Jodie Foster’s film “Flora Plum.” His pain was so extreme he had to pull out of the project and it was never made.

Funny man Ben Stiller’s on-set injury seems comical, but did result in him having to get a rabies shot. While filming a final scene for 2004’s “Along Came Polly,” a ferret used in the movie decided to give him a significant bite. Ouch. (Source: Netscape and Huffington Post)


Health & Safety is critically important to all workplaces, whether on a Hollywood movie set or a southern Ontario factory.

Anna Aceto-Guerin, CHRP
Clear Path Employer Services

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Clear Path Employer Services

Certified HR consultants and medical professionals at Clear Path Employer Services
Clear Path Employer Services is a team of certified HR consultants and medical professionals dedicated to resolving the human resources and claims management challenges facing businesses across Ontario. The company was founded in 2003 by Anna Aceto-Guerin, a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) specializing in WSIB claims management and NEER cost containment, with a focus on return-to-work programs and acquiring SIEF cost relief for employers. Read more
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