Tom Cruise and Charlize Theron’s On-Set Injuries

August 15, 2017

Actors who dare to execute their own stunts garner the admiration of their audiences, and even their peers, the world over. Exhibiting such courage and physical prowess is not only tough as nails, but it can also take a character’s authenticity up a few notches–and sometimes even off the charts. The ambition and grit required to pull off the challenging and risky stunts, however, can be met with injury at any moment–and at times, serious injury. Here are two daredevil actors whose injuries can be added to the long, ever-growing list of on-set mishaps: Tom Cruise and Charlize Theron.

Tom Cruise

Recently on a London set, Tom Cruise took a brave leap across buildings while portraying Ethan Hunt for Mission Impossible 6. The 55-year-old actor attempted to run and jump from a rigging onto a nearby building but fell just short of the mark. Unfortunately, the megastar slammed into the side of the building hard. He reportedly attempted the stunt at least twice–both times meeting the same fate.

Although Cruise was strapped to a harness for protection, it didn’t seem to help in reducing the impact. The actor was clearly seen limping, writhing in pain, and holding his knee before being assisted by the on-set safety team. There are still questions about his condition and if production will need to be postponed for the action-thriller.

Cruise is famous for performing his own death-defying stunts including treacherous rock climbs, outrageous motorcycle chases, scaling the world’s tallest building, and dangling from a flying airplane. Sadly, the recent mishap occurred shortly after Mission Impossible 6 producer David Ellison, told Collider: “What Tom is doing in this movie I believe will top anything that’s come before. It is absolutely unbelievable–he’s been training for a year.” Now many people are questioning if it might be unwise for a man Tom’s age to be performing such insane stunts. The film is currently set for a July 2018 release date.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron was driven to make her empowered femme fatale character Lorraine Broughton as real as possible. With the Atomic Blonde protagonist being a top-level MI6 field agent and highly trained fighter, the Oscar-winning star knew she was going to have to pull off long and brutally raw action scenes–and do it believably. The 42-year-old actress knew she’d be taking a lot of hits on set–and giving them as well–in the Cold War spy thriller.

“I trained for the whole film about two-and-a-half months just to get my body to have some sort of muscle memory where I could just fight instead of just learning steps,” Theron said. She hit the gym for hours on end everyday learning Judo and other martial arts disciplines, and physically pressing the envelope. When the star would return home to her two young children, she’d sit down after being punched, kicked, and thrown into walls, and nurse her prodigious wounds. “Picking up my kid felt like picking up a mountain,” she said.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. Indeed, the pain was just starting. Theron explains, “When I trained, I actually cracked two teeth in the back of my mouth clenching while fighting because apparently, my arm strength wasn’t strong enough.” She told Xpose it was self-inflicted: “I think it was pure panic,” emphasizing the pressure she felt to pull off the brutally athletic feats for her passion project–wearing six-inch heels to boot! Needing to have her teeth removed, she went in for dental surgery right before traveling to Berlin to shoot the film.

Theron is still in the process of dealing with her teeth, but at least she’s no longer in agonizing, chronic pain. “I’m going in for my fourth root canal,” she said.

Charlize has had her share of on-set injuries. During the production of Snow White and the Huntsman, she screamed so much one night that she tore a stomach muscle. And she experienced a frightful injury during the making of Aeon Flux. Specifically, she suffered a herniated disc while performing a series of back flips and was almost left paralyzed. As a result, she had to wear a neck brace for months.

Use Your Intuition during Casting Calls

September 6, 2012

“I feel there are two people inside of me: me and my intuition. If I go against her, she’ll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.” — Kim Bassinger

Vanity Fair magazine ran a cover story this month alleging the Church of Scientology conducted sham auditions for a bogus training video in order to find and vet a girlfriend for Tom Cruise after his breakup with Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman.
Although church leaders and Tom Cruise himself claim the story is false, there are lessons to be learned from this highly publicized contretemps. The sad truth is Hollywood is rife with stories of lecherous producers, illegitimate productions, and casting-couch auditions gone bad. It is your responsibility to carefully consider every audition you’re invited to attend, and make wise decisions in pursuit of your career goals. So what are some of the warning signs you as an actor should be aware of while scouring the call list? Generally speaking, auditions held in cheap motels, apartment buildings, dorm rooms, or Winnebagos should be considered suspect. At the same time, if you’re looking to build your resume and gain experience, there may very well be an earnest, talented, resourceful auteur who’s perfectly legit, yet working out of his parents’ basement. Be sure to do your research by calling the contact number or emailing the production account. If things seem copasetic and you want to attend the try out but you’re still not sure it’s a proper audition, don’t hesitate to bring a friend along (preferably a male friend with some martial arts training).

There may be other auditions that aren’t so obviously fraudulent. They might be held at permissible locations with legitimate budgets, but nonetheless they may be corrupt. For instance, if you’re asked to disrobe with no prior warning or information about nudity from the audition notice, that’s a big red flag. Or even if you’re asked about any intimate details of your personal or sex life, chances are something’s wrong. Now, if the project in question is sexually explicit, the casting director is certainly well within his or her rights to ask what you would be comfortable with in terms of nudity and sexual situations–but otherwise, questions about your personal life are off limits. Additionally, be careful with green screen auditions. Green screen technology is very powerful and allows for tremendous variety of image content; in other words, your audition could be used out of context and in ways you did not intend. If you are asked to read in front of a green screen, you might inquire if the producers intend to use your audition footage in any other project outside the domain of an audition. If they intend to use it for a trailer, background imagery, or behind-the-scenes footage for instance, you want to be in the position to give your approval or walk away.

Most importantly, trust your gut. In terms of self-preservation, it’s the most important tool you have. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Go out there and be bold; but be cautious as well.

Actors Who Didn’t Let Shyness Stop Them

October 19, 2011

Lucille Ball’s teachers at the Anderson dramatic school probably thought they were doing her a favor when they advised her that she was “too shy” and would never make it in show business. Fortunately, Ball did not take these words to heart, and she went on to become The Queen of Comedy as well as a television pioneer. Ball once said, “One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore faith in yourself.”

Tom Cruise struggled with shyness and dyslexia as a child. His family had to move a lot as well, so he was continually uprooted from schools, which limited his ability to form lasting friendships. Cruise said, “Because I grew up in so many different places, I was used to rumors [about me]. You know, I didn’t have the right shoes, I didn’t have the right clothes. I even had the wrong accent.” He credits his mother with helping him learn to survive and overcome, insisting, “People can create their own lives.”

Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are also known to have suffered through painful shyness as well. So the next time you doubt yourself before an audition, remember you’re not alone. Don’t allow those feelings stop you. Instead, keep your posture upright, breathe, emphasize the positive, and give yourself credit for your bravery. Lucille Ball maintained, “I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”

Once you habitually change your way of thinking to emphasize the positive, your confidence will blossom.