16 Big Celebrities Who Nearly Died, And How They Reacted


You’ve probably heard many stories of tragic, untimely celebrity deaths. In fact, there seems to be numerous instances each year. No matter how famous a person may be, one thing they cannot avoid is death. However, what you may have missed, are the shocking stories in which the stars on this list very nearly met their tragic demise. Yes, the stars on this list lived to tell the tale of their near death experiences, but things would have been way different, if they would have been less fortunate.

The events that led to these brushes with death are vastly different for each of the stars on this list and range from shark attacks, to car crashes, to accidents on set. These stars can count themselves lucky that they survived, as many people have not been so lucky in similar situations.

16. Joaquin Phoenix


In 2006, just a couple of months after checking himself into rehab for alcohol addiction, Phoenix was involved in a car accident. The crash occurred on the Canyon Road, above Sunset Boulevard. It is said that the car brakes failed, causing Phoenix to run off the road and the car to flip a number of times. After the accident occurred, the actor became trapped in his vehicle, with no way to see, due to the airbag. The star explained how he heard a male voice telling him to “just relax” but he was unable to see who was talking to him. The actor said he told the man that he was relaxed. The man simply replied “No, you’re not.” The man also prevented Phoenix from lighting a cigarette which would have caused the car to explode, due to gas leakage inside. The man turned out to be film director Werner Herzog. When recounting the incident Phoenix stated, “And suddenly I said to myself, ‘That’s Werner Herzog! There’s something so calming and beautiful about Werner Herzog’s voice. I felt completely fine and safe. I climbed out. I got out of the car and I said, ‘Thank you,’ and he was gone.”

15.  Michael J. Fox


Michael J. Fox very nearly met his demise while filming Back to The Future 3. The almost-tragic incident took place while shooting the scene in which Marty is hanging from a noose, before Doc. comes to his rescue. The actor revealed in his autobiography, that at first, he had been standing on a small box while shooting the scene. Fox was supposed to place his hand between the noose and his neck, but having been filming for a long day, miscalculated and the star was actually hung, for real. Fox had been unconscious half a minute, before anyone realized he was not acting. The actor stated, “It was a full 30 seconds before anyone noticed. Thankfully Bob Zemeckis, a fan of mine though he was, realized that I wasn’t that good of an actor.” Although Fox was okay, he had to take the rest of the day off from filming to settle himself after the shocking incident.

14. Charlize Theron


Charlize Theron, has long been a supporter of method acting, demonstrating this in many of her movies. However, this style of acting almost cost the star her life; while starring in the science-fiction, spy movie Aeon Flux, released in 2005, Charlize was adamant that she would perform all her own stunts, as much as possible. For this reason, the actress refused a body double for many daring and dangerous stunts. One particular scene, in which the actress was attempting to do a backflip, saw her fall and break her neck. Describing her injuries, the actress stated: “I did a back handspring, gymnastics back handspring, had done 18 of them back to back and I just slipped and handed on my neck with my body straight out, so with all my weight onto my neck and herniated the disk between my third and fourth vertebrae. I had some nerve damage, it was numb on the right side of my body.” Fortunately, the star made a full recovery from her injuries and made an excellent display of just how dedicated she is to her craft.

13. Eminem


Eminem was very close to becoming another one of the music industry’s great tragedies, after a drug overdose left the star extremely close to death. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors were fortunately able to save the rapper’s life. Eminem, was informed that he had a huge amount of methadone in his system, the equivalent to shooting up four bags of heroin, to be precise. The star later revealed: “Even when they told me I almost died it didn’t click” In fact, the star would have most certainly died, had he not reached the hospital when he did as his organs were already beginning to shut down. All things considered, the rapper was not able to get himself completely clean after the incident, but later reflecting on the time, revealed that he was an addict and didn’t realize the severity of his ways. Eminem released Relapse in 2009 and revealed it was the first thing he recorded sober in 7 years. Thankfully, the star has been sober and healthy for a number of years now.

12. Sean Kingston


Sean Kingston almost died in May 2011, after a jet ski he was on collided with a bridge, at top speed. After the impact, Kingston was thrown unconscious into the water, but fortunately, was rescued by an off-duty coastguard. Kingston described his accident in the following words: “As soon as I hit the bridge I got knocked out. My face was in the water and that’s what crushed my lungs because I was getting in so much water.” After Kingston had spent 11 days in hospital on a ventilator, he was set for release. However, just before leaving the hospital, Kingston began experiencing sharp pains in his chest. Doctors rushed to restart the star’s heart with shock paddles. It was discovered that the young singer had a tear in his aorta and emergency heart surgery was performed. Kingston almost lost his life a second time and a doctor working on the star stated: “He tried to die a couple of times on us, but we just refused to let him.”

11. Anne Hathaway


Anne Hathaway very nearly drowned after being caught in a rip current off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, in 2014. The actress was taking a swim when waters suddenly became treacherous. Hathaway, was seen struggling to keep herself above the water and began to shout for help. At certain terrifying points, the actress was completely submerged by the waves. An unidentified surfer came to the Oscar-winning actress’ aid, rescuing her from the rip current and bringing her safely to shore. Although Hathaway was badly shaken up by the incident, she escaped with nothing more than a few scratches on her feet. The star was later seen smiling and laughing with her husband Adam Schulman, which made it clear the actress was not too traumatized from her swim.

10. Orlando Bloom


Orlando Bloom’s near death experience occurred when he was 21-years old. Bloom, along with his friends, were attempting to climb to a rooftop terrace. The star had climbed three stories up a drainpipe when suddenly it collapsed and caused the actor to plummet to the ground. The star broke numerous vertebra in his back and was paralyzed for several days. In fact, Bloom was told he would never walk again. After multiple surgeries and 18 months of rehab, Bloom was able to once again pursue his acting career. Shortly after, he starred in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, released in 2001. The actor said he was, in a sense, grateful the incident occurred as it gave him a new perspective on life. The star also said how even today he is reminded of the event: “I’m always working on my back. It hasn’t prevented me from doing anything. But it’s a constant reminder.”

9. George Clooney


In 2004, George Clooney was filming political-thriller Syriana, when a devastating stunt accident broke his back. The pain of the spinal injury caused Clooney such unbearable discomfort that he went as far as thoughts of suicide. Clooney was bed-bound for a long period of time, which saw the accident leave the star with not just physical, but emotional damage. The actor said: “I was lying in a hospital bed with an IV in my arm, unable to move, having these headaches where it feels like you’re having a stroke, and for a short three-week period, I started to think, ‘I may have to do something drastic about this’.” Nonetheless, the star said he never really believed it would come to this, and was more interested in some way he could survive. Clooney eventually made a full recovery and was once again able to return to his successful acting career.

8. Johnny Depp


Depp’s marriage to Amber Heard is not the only misadventure to come from the 2011 movie, The Rum Diaries. While scouting locations for the film, Depp, and the movie’s director Bruce Robinson, got the fright of their lives when the engine of the private jet they were on suddenly cut off. Depp described the scene as follows: “There was silence. Bruce and I were looking at each other and I think I said, ‘Is this it?’ It was like this weird extended moment when you’re just floating for a second, and you could feel this unpleasant decent.” Depp explained how the pair were sure they were going to die and that this was how it was going to happen. The pair then erupted into hysterical laughter at the whole idea and the inconceivability of it all. Nevertheless, the plane’s engine started up again and the jet was landed safely.

7. Miles Teller


Before his days of Divergent fame, when Miles Teller was just 20-years old, he was involved in a very serious car accident. The actor was in a car, with friends, travelling from Connecticut to Florida, when suddenly the driver lost control of the vehicle. The car jumped three lanes of traffic and flipped eight times, before coming to a standstill. Teller, explained how he was thrown out of the car, before it started to roll, and that everyone was frantic trying to find him. When the star was discovered he was on the side of the road, covered in blood. Teller suffered numerous injuries, including over 20 staples in his shoulder, a broken wrist and deep gashes in his face. Strangely enough, the accident actually helped the actor secure his first movie role. When auditioning for a part in the 2010 movie Rabbit Hole, the director thought Miles’ scars suited the part of his character perfectly.

6. 50 Cent


Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, was shot a staggering 9 times, in his native neighbourhood of Queens, New York, in the year 2000. The rapper had been attempting to escape a life in the drug business, in the hopes of starting a career in the music industry when the shooting occurred. The attack is presumed to be in revenge to a song the rapper had penned, which detailed information about his life and those he worked with selling drugs. Fiddy, who was left with wounds on his hand, arm, hip, both legs, chest and his face, spent 13 days in the hospital, and was unable to walk unaccompanied for over six weeks. The rapper was initially left with a slur, as the bullet that hit his face, tore through his jaw doing damage to both his tongue and teeth. Nevertheless, the rapper’s carer soon took off as he was signed to Eminem’s record label, Shady Records, in 2002. In 2005, a movie titled Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was released telling the rapper’s story including details of the shooting; 50 Cent played himself in the movie.

5. Rachel Bilson


Rachel Bilson’s near death experience is a bit more severe than many of the others on the list, as The O.C. star was actually pronounced “dead” after a devastating car accident. Bilson, who was only 16 at the time, was travelling with friends when their car crashed into another vehicle at huge impact. Bilson recounted the incident by stating, “I was with my girlfriend and these two guys driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. We were going really fast and we were involved in a head-on collision with a truck. We were in a tiny car and it was a pretty bad crash.” Bilson also stated, “I basically died and then came back. The window went into my head.” Thankfully, after pronouncing the star dead, emergency workers saw signs of life in the actress and rushed her to hospital. Bilson was in a coma for a few days but made an almost full recovery. The star still suffers from severe migraines. After the incident Bilson is said to have thrown herself into acting, and soon enough gained her first major role as Summer Roberts on The O.C.

4. Seth MacFarlane


Seth MacFarlane’s brush with death came on September 11, 2001, when he was scheduled to return to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11. Fortunately, the Family Guy creator’s agent mixed up their times and told MacFarlane that his flight would depart at 8.15 am, but it was actually scheduled to depart a half hour earlier, at 7.45 am. Along with this, MacFarlane was hungover and after arriving for the flight 10 minutes late he was informed he would have to wait an hour for the next flight. Shortly after, Flight 11 was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Speaking about the matter, MacFarlane said: “The only reason it hasn’t affected me as it maybe could have been: I didn’t really know that I was in danger until after it was over, so I never had that panic moment.”

3. Mark Wahlberg


Mark Wahlberg, who starred in Seth MacFarlane’s first feature-length film Ted, was another famous person to miss the very same 9/11 flight due to a last minute change of plans. Wahlberg has spoken about how the incident still haunts him to this day (wouldn’t it still haunt you?). The star remarked, “We certainly would have tried to do something to fight. I’ve had over 50 dreams about it.” He also stated, “If I was on that plane with my kids, [9/11] wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’”

2. Travis Barker


Travis Barker’s near-fatal encounter came in the form of a place crash in September 2008. The crash occurred during take-off from the Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina. Four of the plane’s six passengers were killed in the tragedy. Travis, and fellow musician Adam Goldstein, were the only survivors. When speaking on the issue, Baker remarked, “the plane’s on fire and my hands are on fire so I unbuckle my seat belt and I jump right into the jet, which holds all the fuel. I basically ignite my whole body in fire… Then we realize, you know, we’re out of the plane and… the plane explodes.” Barker received second and third degree burns that covered 65% of his body; he was hospitalized for over 4 months and had to undergo 27 surgeries. The drummer later recounted that the aftermath of the event was so overwhelming, that he offered several of his close friends $1 million to end his life. Less than a year after the crash, Goldstein, the other survivor, died of an overdose of cocaine and prescription drugs prescribed after the crash. Barker had made a full recovery, but had admitted that he does suffer from survivor’s guilt.

1. Leonardo DiCaprio


While taking a break from filming Blood Diamond in 2006, Leo decided to take part in an underwater diving expedition, in Cape Town, South Africa. What was supposed to be a relaxing break from filming, soon turned into something much more sinister after the brave star became trapped in a shark cage and was, as a result, attacked by a great white. The star, who was previously known to have a fear of sharks, described the incident as follows: “Half of its body was in and out, and I flattened down at the bottom, and it was this far away, and it chomped a few times but I survived it.” This was not the only close call for Leo. Once while flying business class on a flight to Russia, the actor witnessed an engine blow up. He described how the wing erupted in a “fireball.” Thankfully, the plane was able to do an emergency landing at JFK and no passengers were harmed. Leo escaped death a third time during a skydiving incident when both the chute, and the emergency chute, became tangled. However, the man accompanying Leo, managed to untangle the emergency chute mid-air, just in time. When speaking about all the times he has cheated death, the actor remarked: “If a cat has nine lives, I’ve definitely used a few.”


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