Making films sounds like a lot of fun, especially when you’re an actor who gets to play a different character in each movie, and experience new and exciting things. But filmmaking isn’t always fun – and definitely not easy. In order to make a truly great movie, the cast and crew often have to sacrifice their own convenience for the sake of art. Whether it’s spending hours in makeup and wardrobe to achieve the accurate look for the character, or having to suffer through rough physical conditions like extreme weather.
Some actors had to withstand horrible things, and even risk their own health, in order to portray the characters they were cast to play. These stars proved not only that they have the acting chops, but also how far they’re willing to go for the sake of their craft. However, we’re not so sure they’d be willing to go through these experiences again. Take a look at some of the roughest things these actors had to pull through.
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad
Margot Robbie’s performance as the eccentric Harley Quinn in DC’s Suicide Squad made the role iconic. But the star admitted filming it wasn’t always the greatest, and not just because of the skimpy outfit. In one particular scene, her character dives straight into a pool full of chemicals, which Robbie described to be “the most unpleasant thing” she’s ever done.
“It was like this gluggy paint stuff that was so far in my ears and up my nose,” she said. “I was choking on it underwater, and I couldn’t breathe, and I tried to open my eyes, and it would glaze over my eyeballs…It was horrible.”
Kate Winslet – Titanic
James Cameron is a great director, but his attention to detail can sometimes make for a less-than-pleasant working environment. Or more accurately – a nightmare. The cast and crew spent half the time soaking wet, freezing, and not allowed to go to the bathroom, and many of them admitted wanting to bolt.
Kate Winslet perhaps suffered the most – during that big scene in the water, the actress actually got hypothermia. She was offered to wear a wetsuit but turned her costume designer down, apparently because Cameron wanted her wet dress to cling to her body in the water. While she said he wasn’t going for “a wet T-shirt contest,” he thought it would look more realistic.
Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men: First Class
When Jennifer Lawrence was cast to play Mystique in the successful comic-based franchise, we’re not sure she knew exactly what she was signing up for. Not only did it take between seven and eight hours to get into her full-body makeup for the blue mutant – which can’t be fun – the paint actually gave her skin problems.
“I got a couple of things from the paint,” she recalled. “Like weird boils, rashes and blisters.” The young actress was reportedly also concerned about breathing all these chemicals from the paint. Between having to get up in the middle of the night for the long hours, and the health issues, Jennifer decided enough was enough. So in the next installment, she wore a full body suit instead.
Jim Carrey – How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Many actors have to deal with wearing costumes that aren’t exactly pleasant. But Jim Carrey flat out hated the Grinch costume he had to wear in this movie. He said the contact lenses they used for the creature “were like knives in [his] eyes,” and described his experience wearing the bodysuit like being buried alive.
He apparently needed a Navy SEAL come in to help him handle the pressure, and reportedly suffered anxiety attacks because he felt so claustrophobic in it. It was also said that he was pretty rude to the crew, and particularly the makeup artists. But his irritable mood kind of makes sense, considering how much he was suffering at the time.
Liam Hemsworth – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
The cast of The Hunger Games has a lot to be thankful for – the franchise became one of the most successful ones out there. But some moments on set were definitely a challenge – in particular, the sewer scene in Mockingjay – Part 2.
The cast had to endure three weeks of filming in a real-life hot sewer, after their costumes had absorbed 20 pounds in water weight. And the worst? Liam Hemsworth (who plays Gale) was too tall to be able to stand up straight in there, so he had to keep his head down at all times.
Scarlett Johansson – The Avengers
Many people thought Scarlett Johansson looked amazing in her Black Widow costume, worn for The Avengers and other Marvel films. But having to wear the tight, leathery costume wasn’t quite so amazing.
The movie was shot in the middle of the desert in Albuquerque, NM, and the heat was just too much. The actress even suffered from heatstroke when filming a fighting scene, to the point of having hallucinations. And the stunts were so intense, they had to get her a new costume every few days because they would get worn out.
Dave Bautista – Guardians of the Galaxy
Being a Guardian of the Galaxy isn’t easy – you’re put in the face of danger quite a few times. But actor Dave Bautista possibly had it the hardest. When he had to film a near-death scene of his character, Drax, he was in the midst of a cold and could hardly speak.
Yet, the drowning scene required him to be shirtless, covered in yellow goo, and absolutely freezing – while having to deliver an incredibly emotional scene for the character. It might have paid off, though, because audiences love Drax.
Tom Hardy – Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most spectacular and visually pleasing films ever made. But filming it wasn’t a breeze – especially for Tom Hardy. The talented actor may have given it his all, but he still had trouble seeing director George Miller’s vision for the film.
Having to film all day in the sands of the desert, with all that heat and sweat, was extremely difficult, and the actor reportedly became “difficult” to work with. But apparently, after seeing the ravishing end result, Hardy apologized and realized those hard times paid off.
Ed Harris and the rest of the cast – The Abyss
James Cameron is known for going the distance when it comes to making films. The production of sci-fi thriller The Abyss was so tough on the cast and crew, it was ceremoniously renamed “The Abuse”. As the movie takes place mostly underwater, the cast and crew had to decompress all the time and were even encouraged to relieve themselves in their suits in order to save time!
Both Cameron, and lead star Ed Harris, almost drowned while filming scenes, and actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio suffered a breakdown – after hours of filming a brutal resuscitation scene over and over.
Emma Stone – The Favourite
Emma Stone also suffered for her art, particularly thanks to her costume on periodic dramedy The Favourite. As it takes place in the 17th century, the star had to wear a corset for the first time, and she doesn’t recommend it. “For the first month, I couldn’t breathe,” she told. She had to breathe in menthol to feel like her body was an “open space.”
And after a month, her organs actually shifted because of the corset, as it often does (corsets are so extremely tight, they don’t leave enough room for organs to stay in their place). While it was only temporary, she called the experience “gross.” We can only imagine how women in the 17th century must have felt like.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Predator
Sci-fi classic Predator had many production problems – from firing the original predator, Jean-Claude Van Damme, to delays that almost killed the film entirely. But it was the decision to film in Central America in the midst of the harsh summer that truly made it unbearable for the cast and crew.
Arnold Schwarzengger, though, had other problems as well; the scenes in which the star had to be covered in mud in the nighttime left him constantly on the brink of hypothermia, and he even got food poisoning in Puerto Vallerta. All in all, not a fun experience.
Shelley Duvall – The Shining
Director Stanley Kubrick might be a genius, but he’s also famously a pain to work with. During the filming of the Stephen King horror The Shining, actress Shelley Duvall got the absolute worst of it. The director reportedly shouted and bullied her all throughout the filming, demanding she delivers the exact notes of horror as he intended.
He told the cast not to feel sorry for her, even when he pushed her to the very limit – the scene where Wendy fends off her violent husband had to be shot 127 times before Kubrick was pleased. The actress ended up crying so much, she was dehydrated.
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
When Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were cast in the new Star Wars installment, they knew they would have to work hard. They even trained on treadmills for all the scenes in which they would have to run. But some of the film was shot in the scorching desert heat of Abu Dhabi, which made it all the more difficult.
Not only that, but they had to do quite a bit of running in the sand, which they admitted was killing their legs. Ridley admitted she was grateful for the times the shot included some explosions, since it meant they wouldn’t have to do as many takes.
Lily James – Cinderella
There was quite an internet storm when the live-action version of Cinderella came out, and it had something to do with how Lily James looked as the titular character. She wore the legendary blue Cinderella gown with a corset underneath, and her waist looked so tiny – people actually thought computer generated imagery (CGI) was applied to make it smaller.
The British actress said no CGI was involved, but admitted her time in that corset wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. She had to go on a liquid-only diet, eating soup and drinking tea all day long, because solid food “didn’t really digest properly” and left her “burping all afternoon in [Richard Madden]’s face.” We’re pretty sure that’s worse than having your waist narrowed by CGI.
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
The Revenant was quite the critically acclaimed movie, that finally won Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar – which he probably deserved, considering what he’d gone through to film it. It was shot in the wild parts of Alberta, Canada, where temperatures were usually below zero. It was so cold, the cameras actually stopped working for a while.
DiCaprio had to wear 47 pieces of prosthetics as part of his costume (which took five hours to wear), and constantly battle hypothermia while filming difficult scenes. We’re not just talking about the scene where his character get mauled by a bear; after a prop didn’t look realistic enough, Leonardo had to eat a real, raw bison liver for another scene. That wouldn’t be pleasant for anyone, but since the actor is a vegetarian, it made it even worse.
Chadwick Boseman – Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman not only did a great job playing the king of Wakanda, but he also apparently braved through some pretty uncomfortable things during the shoot. His suit proved to be pretty terrible to wear, and not just because of the 90-degree weather.
It also made it hard for the actor to breathe, essentially cutting off his air supply. He had to go to what he describes as his “zen space” in order to perform simple stunts and still breathe properly.
Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies won Nicole Kidman an Emmy Award, and not for nothing. Yes, the Australian actress demonstrated some fine acting skills in it, but she also had to endure emotional distress.
Playing wife to an abusive husband (portrayed by the wonderful Alexander Skarsgård), Nicole had to shoot some pretty rough scenes with her acting partner, in which the two simulated intense physical and emotional abuse. The actress admitted shooting these scenes took an emotional toll on her, leaving her “humiliated and devastated.”
Blake Lively – The Shallows
It wasn’t easy for Blake Lively to shoot The Shallows – a movie she pretty much held on her own. The star actually almost broke her nose while filming one of the scenes, and injured herself quite a bit. “They would paint bruises and cuts on me every day,” she recalled.
“After the first two weeks I was just covered in them myself.” She also performed most of the stunts herself, which were physically demanding, while pregnant with her second child.
The dwarves – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit films used plenty of CGI for various effects, but one thing that couldn’t be faked was… fish. Apparently, they’re not easy to fake in a way that would look real enough. So when the dwarves had to be put into barrels with fish inside, they actually had to be covered with real fish from head to toe.
Not only was the smell pretty much unbearable, actor Adam Brown (who portrays Ori) reportedly has a phobia of fish, which he had to overcome to shoot this scene.
Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield – Silence
Martin Scorsese’s production of Silence didn’t quite go smoothly from the very beginning, as it took years to get financed. The film tells the story of Portuguese priests who trek to Japan, but it was actually filmed in Taiwan.
The weather conditions were horrible, as they were combined of heat, high humidity, and monsoons. Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield not only dealt with these extreme weather conditions, but also had to change their appearance for the role. Driver himself admitted to losing about 40 pounds to play the role.
Michael Keaton – Batman
Michael Keaton played Batman in the Tim Burton 1989 version, and while he enjoyed filming the parts for Bruce Wayne, things got a lot trickier when he had to don that Batman suit. His superhero costume wasn’t exactly comfortable, to say the least.
In fact, it was pretty confining, and restricted his movement, to the point of making him claustrophobic. However, the actor tried to work that sensation into the character itself, and made his every movement extremely deliberate. Now that’s acting for you.
Everyone on The Wizard of Oz
When you think about The Wizard of Oz, you think about a happy childhood classic. You probably don’t think of the horrifying production that actually scarred some of its cast members. Actor Buddy Ebsen was supposed to play the part of the Tin Man, but had a bad reaction to the makeup that caused him lung failure and landed him in a hospital.
Margaret Hamilton, who played the witch, and her stunt double both got badly burnt on their hands and faces. And Ray Bolger got permanent scars to his face from having the scarecrow rubber mask glued to his face each day.
Martin Sheen – Apocalypse Now
The Philippines set of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was reportedly chaotic. Not only was Coppola writing the movie as they went along, which delayed the production, but the cast and crew were coming down with tropical illnesses, and even had to face actual tiger attacks.
After a massive typhoon hit, rendering the production to a month’s halt, many crew members were unwilling to return to the jungle. Star Martin Sheen decided to go back, and confessed to telling his friends, “I don’t know if I’m going to live through this.” The actor then went on to suffer a heart attack on set – but luckily survived.
The entire cast of Everest
The 2015 film Everest’s plot is exactly as you would’ve guessed it – the fate of an expedition that attempted to climb the fearful mountain in 1996. Most of the movie was shot on Mount Everest itself, which means the production was basically brutal.
The cast and crew had to spent their days in 30 below zero temperatures, battling with low oxygen levels. At night it got even worse, as they slept in tiny lodges. Actor Josh Brolin told about the experience, saying “I’m freezing and I haven’t felt my feet for three days and I’m kind of done with this whole idea.” But that’s what director Baltasar Kormakur was going for – he wanted the actors to be on edge so they would give better performances.
Kevin Costner – Waterworld
Waterworld wasn’t the most popular movie with audiences. In fact, it pretty much bombed at the box office, despite its inflated $175 million budget. One of the financial setbacks was an entire set that somehow sank beneath the water, but that wasn’t the only issue.
Many of the cast members got seasick from filming on the water, and Kevin Costner himself almost lost his life. He had to perform a stunt in which he would get tied to a boat, and it went horribly wrong.