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10 Incredible Movie Scenes You Won’t Believe Weren’t Faked
You’ve really got to feel for actors sometimes. In this era of CGI and incredible stunt-performers pure performance only ever seems to be measured in terms of method. It’s no wonder, then, that some actors are taking it upon themselves – like Tom Cruise does – to take something of performance back for themselves by doing things they wouldn’t normally be asked to.
In his case, it’s throwing himself off or out of things at high speed or at great heights, but it doesn’t always have to be that extreme. In some cases, movie scenes require actors not to fake it in smaller terms to make everything feel a little more legitimate and they don’t always get the credit they deserve for it.
That changes now…
10. Bill Murray Really Bowled Three Strikes – Kingpin
Just as Armageddon ridiculously established that it’s easier to train oil drillers to be astronauts, it seems that it’s easier to hire really good bowlers for bowling movies rather than training up actors to be good at it. Or at the very least, the Farrelly brothers just got really lucky when they hired Bill Murray to play villainous cad Ernie McCracken.
It seems Murray was a dab hand with ten pins as he proved when the time came to shoot the film’s climax. In the key match between him and Woody Harrelson’s loser Roy Munson, McCracken had to bowl three strikes in a row to win and Murray legitimately bowled all three consecutively.
Apparently, Harrelson was terrible, though.
9. A Stuntman Really Cliff-Hung – Cliffhanger
When Sylvester Stallone made Cliffhanger back in 1993, the special effects industry was yet to come on the leaps and bounds it has since, so practical approaches were far more attractive to ensure the right levels of realism. Looking back, you can see why a film about mountain climbing that involved that many stunts probably looked daunting to the stunts team…
They would have been particularly terrified when it came to the film’s set-piece stunt, which saw stuntman Simon Crane zip-lining between two planes at high altitude. He was paid $1m (out of Stallone’s own pocket, according to popular thought) and made it into the Guiness Book Of Records for the most expensive aerial stunt ever performed. No CGI, just a man on a wire.
Hopefully, the money went some way to making the flashbacks a little easier to ignore.
8. Conan Really Outran Dangerous Dogs – Conan The Barbarian
There’s a price that comes with looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or there was when he first started out in acting. And it’s not one you’d probably think about too much. The problem for Arnie back in those days was that he couldn’t get a stunt-double: he just looked so different to everyone.
Studios struggled to employ anyone to stand in for him, such was his build, so Schwarzenegger was forced to do some of his own stunts (which arguably helped him break Hollywood). For Conan The Barbarian, he trained extensively with a sword, learned to climb and ride a horse and stunt fall and fight. And as part of it, he also learned how to outrun legitimately dangerous dogs.
For one scene that saw Conan running away from the animals, Schwarzenegger was apparently really running for his life, because the dogs were notoriously difficult and had attacked their trainer, as director John Milius confirmed:
“When you had the dogs chasing Arnold Schwarzenegger and he’s running, he’s actually running for his life because he knew those dogs were very dangerous and they even attacked their trainer.”
If you don’t believe it, there’s even a blooper of one of the dogs actually catching Arnie:
7. The Paris Cafe Really Exploded – Inception
It’s a general rule of thumb that when you’re working with actors as expensive and beloved as Leonardo DiCaprio, you should do as much as possible not to make them explode. Or at least, most film-makers tend to follow that rule.
Christopher Nolan, on the other hand, is a trail-blazer who cares not for your silly rules, so he put DiCaprio and co-star Ellen Page in the middle of some real “explosions” that were rigged using debris cannons. There obviously weren’t actual explosives involved, but the debris is legit and that makes DiCaprio and Page’s ability to remain focused and not react to the cannons going off all the more impressive.
6. THAT Blowjob Really Happened – The Brown Bunny
There’s a good chance you only know the notorious Brown Bunny for a couple of reasons. First, you probably remember the beef that kicked off between Rogert Ebert and its director Vincent Gallo after the critic savaged it as “the worst film in the history of Cannes.”
You might also know it for the most notorious – and legitimate – blowjob in film history.
In one scene, Chloe Sevigny – Gallo’s ex-girlfriend – performs fellatio on Gallo in an unflinching close-up that definitely plays with what counts as art and what’s just porn. Ironically, Gallo took a lot of criticism for the film being poor, but not really for the unsimulated blow job, so it just goes to show where everyone’s priorities really lie…
5. Zoe Bell Really Surfed A Car Bonnet – Death Proof
Though the likes of Tom Cruise, Daniel Craig and particularly Jackie Chan like to do as many of their own stunts as possible – no doubt much to the delight of the studios who have to insure them – none of them ever really put themselves in TOTAL danger.
That sort of thing is limited to the genuine stunt performers. Or Zoe Bell, who has pivoted out of full-time stunt-work to become an actress (though she still doubled for Cate Blanchett as Hela on Thor: Ragnarok) and who gets to blur the lines between stunt performing and normal performing.
That means we get incredible sequences like the ones in Death Proof that could have killed her. Quentin Tarantino had hired her in order to be able to get up close for stunts without using a double, so it’s really her being rag-dolled around on the bonnet of a car moving at over 50 miles-per-hour. Sure, she had a safety harness, but it’s still stunning.
4. Keanu Reeves Really Made That Jump – Speed
There’s a pretty famous story that Speed’s big stunt – the slightly silly bus jump over the unfinished highway, which is the enemy of science – was really pulled off, aside for the gap being digitally added after filming. That’s all well and good, but no actors were put in direct harm for it.
The same can’t be said of the scene that saw Keanu Reeves jumping from a moving car to the bomb-laden bus while driving at 60mph to tell the passengers about the explosives.
The initial plan was to have a stuntman do the jump, but Reeves had other ideas and rehearsed the jump in secret before rocking up on the day of filming and insisting that he do it himself. He pulled it off, incredibly and it gave him such an appetite for stunts that he’s insisted on doing as many as he can himself since.
3. The Crew Really Were Weightless – Apollo 13
For any space-set movie, you’re going to havd to expect some zero g sequences (even if it’s just in the astronaut training montage, because it always looks so good on camera). When it comes to a considerable number of those scenes, you’d think that a director would use harnesses or digital manipulation to keep control of the scenes (and their costs).
But that wasn’t the case with Apollo 13, which required a fair amount of weightless sequences. Instead, the studio got an assist from NASA, whose delightfully-nicknamed Vomit Comet training plane was borrowed to achieve the scenes.
The plane – a KC-135 – moves up and down quickly to achieve weightlessness inside and was turned into a soundstage for Apollo 13. Incredibly, it took around 600 parabolic arcs to get everything shot, which must have played merry hell with the actors’ stomachs.
2. Indy Really Outran The Boulder – Raiders Of The Lost Ark
It should be ANOTHER rule of thumb for major Hollywood productions that no lead actor should be put in the direct line of danger – partiuclarly when they’re known for… let’s say bad luck when it comes to filming and real-life adventure activities.
Perhaps it’s because it happened earlier in his career, but that consideration didn’t seem to enter the minds of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas when they asked Harrison Ford to outrun a real 800-pound boulder for Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Sure, it wasn’t actually made of stone, but if you get hit by 800 pounds of wood, plaster and fiberglass, you aren’t walking away in good shape. And yet, Ford had to outrun the boulder legitimately for two takes, which has prompted Spielberg to admit in hindsight that he should never have allowed it to happen as Ford could easily have been injured, even with safety measures.
At least the real panic made the scene look even better.
1. Peter Parker Really Juggled MJ’s Lunch – Spider-Man
Easily the most stunning of these not-faked shots isn’t one that would have put its actors in harm’s way, but that takes absolutely nothing away from the achievement.
In Spider-Man – as revealed by the DVD commentary – Peter Parker saves Mary Jane from a fall in the school cafeteria and manages to catch her lunch to show off his newly-empowered reflexes. And incredibly, the juggling act didn’t use CGI.
Instead, Toby Maguire was given a sticky tray while the crew launched food into the air with a rig. It might have taken 156 takes to actually pull the stunt off, but it’s incredible that they managed it at all!