Syriana is a film about the tense Middle Eastern oil industry that won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. During the filming of the movie (released in 2005), Clooney suffered a severe back injury during a torture scene. The accident caused a serious tear in his dura mater, the membrane that holds spinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
Initially, Clooney didn’t know he had injured himself, but days later he started having migraines. Eventually, Lisa Kudrow encouraged him to see her neurologist. The neurologist noticed the leaking spinal fluid and diagnosed the injury, starting Clooney’s lengthy treatment process. This involved injecting blood directly into his spine to coagulate and stop the leaking. Clooney said the doctors did this 15 times in 15 days, at which point Clooney said he thought he was going to die. Doctors prescribed the actor pain medication, but that only caused intense stomach pain and anxiety.
In 2002, before his name had the notoriety that it has today, West was involved in a serious car accident after a long night of recording. After leaving the studio around 3 AM, West’s Lexus was cut off and run into oncoming traffic. The collision was so devastating that West’s jaw was fractured and he had to have reconstructive surgery for his face.
The surgery and subsequent recovery left West hospitalized for weeks and, since he had no insurance, he paid out of pocket for everything. Some good came of the accident, however, as it inspired West’s hit song Through the Wire, a rap song about the accident that West recorded while his jaw was still wired shut.
During the filming of Now You See Me, Isla Fisher was performing a stunt in which she was to attempt an escape from shackles while submerged in a transparent tank of water. The scene called for her to panic and bang on the glass as her character became distressed, so when her chains actually got tangled in her costume and she found herself stuck, the surrounding crew had no idea.
Describing the experience, Fisher explains, “My chain got stuck. I had to really swim to the bottom; I couldn’t get up. Everyone thought I was acting fabulously. I was actually drowning.” Eventually, Fisher was able to detach the chain from her costume and escape without serious injury.
On March 5th, 2015, Ford, an avid pilot, was flying his World War II-era, single-engine plane. Shortly after takeoff, he began experiencing engine problems. He quickly diverted course back to the airport from which he took off. His engines completely failed before he could make it back to the runway. Ford instead crash landed his plane onto a nearby golf course.
The crash landing left him with what official reports called “serious injuries,” but according to recent accounts, Ford’s recovery is going better than expected. Commenting on the incident, Frank Marshall, a producer for the Indiana Jones films, said “He made an incredible landing, to his credit. He is, after all, Indiana Jones.”
When he was only 17, Ryan Reynolds dabbled in skydiving. During a jump, Reynolds’s main chute malfunctioned and didn’t deploy as he pulled the cord. Frozen with fear, Reynolds plummeted without pulling his reserve shoot.
He described his dilemma in an interview, saying “This might sound odd but when you're falling like that you just can't bring yourself to do it,” and added “Physically I cannot release that reserve because I don't want to find out if it's going to work or not.” He eventually pulled the chute and landed safely. The incident caused him to have a panic attack, however, and after his instructor died shortly after in a jump gone wrong, Reynolds gave up skydiving for good.
When Kruger was working on the film Inglorious Basterds, director Quentin Tarantino took one scene a bit too far. Tarantino has been known to exert extreme control over his films, and this one was no exception. During a scene in which Kruger’s character (spoilers) gets strangled, the shot called for a close up of the action.
Tarantino decided to handle the strangling himself; reportedly saying “It’ll either be too much or too little. I know exactly what I need and I think I should just do it.” Turns out what he needed was a bit too much as well. He convinced Kruger to let him strangle her “full on… for just a little bit of time,” which he did, until the actress lost consciousness.
When Osbourne was 55 years old, back in 2003, he decided to ride an ATV across his estate just outside of London. During the joyride, the rocker crashed the vehicle, which ultimately rolled and ended up on top of him.
The ordeal damaged a vertebra in his neck, cracked his collar bone, and broke eight of his ribs which caused them to pinch crucial blood vessels. He was rushed to nearby Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, just west of London, to undergo emergency surgery from which he’s made a full recovery.
In June of 2014, Morgan’s limo was rear-ended by a tractor trailer while Morgan and company were heading down the New Jersey Turnpike. The crash proved fatal for comedy writer and Morgan’s personal friend, James McNair. Morgan suffered a serious brain injury in the crash and is still recovering to this day.
With such a serious injury, the odds of him making a full recovery are unknown. However, he was seen in early 2015 walking with a cane and said that he is “working hard” at his rehabilitation.
In 2001, when Drew Barrymore was engaged to Tom Green, the two of them were sleeping in their Los Angeles home when it caught fire. The flames caused $700,000 worth of damage to their home and belongings, leaving Barrymore to claim that they had “lost everything.”
The two of them might have lost more than just their home in the fire if their dog hadn’t woken them up and alerted them to the flames by barking and clawing at the door to their bedroom.
During the filming of The Expendables 3, Statham was driving a three-ton truck when its brakes failed. This sent the truck and the actor careening into the Black Sea, where they promptly sank to a depth of 60 feet. The doors had been removed so that Statham could jump out of the vehicle while it traveled, which never happened.
The removed doors did allow him to quickly escape the vehicle once it sank and, since Statham is an experienced scuba diver and competitive diver, he was able to make it to the surface unharmed. The accident was a freak-occurrence, but Statham joked “I have my suspicions. I think I'd been complaining too much on set, and Sly (Stallone) might have tampered with the brake calipers. I don't know.”
Gerard Butler starred in the 2012 film Chasing Mavericks, a biographical drama about Jay Moriarity, a famous surfer. Butler was not a competent surfer when he began working on the movie, but he received training so that he could play the part. During a day of filming, Butler was surfing near the San Mateo County coast. As he waited in the wake, he and the crew saw a wave “30 feet high,” heading their direction.
As Butler was overcome by the wave, it ripped the tether that connected him to the board from his foot. The immense force of the wave pulled Butler down and held him there. Just as he reached the surface, a second wave crashed down on him and plunged him down once again, holding him underwater for over a minute. The incident landed Butler in Stanford Medical Center for a period of time to undergo observation.
Hathaway had her near-death experience when she was vacationing with her husband in Hawaii in 2014. While she was swimming in the ocean, the actress was caught in a dangerous riptide that dragged her down and out to sea.
Luckily for her, a surfer was nearby, saw the struggling star, and helped her back to shore. She hurt her foot during the ordeal and was understandably shaken, but she and her husband got over it and were seen hitting the waves the very next day.
The drummer for Blink 182, Travis Barker, barely escaped with his life in 2008 after the plane he was traveling in crashed into the runway lights and collided with a boundary fence. The wreckage came to a halt against an embankment after sliding across South Carolina Highway 302.
Barker and DJ AM (Adam Goldstein) were the only two people who survived the crash, which took the lives of four other passengers. No one on the ground was injured in the accident.
Ed Begley Jr.
One night in February of 1972, Ed Begley Jr. was taking a bus from Los Angeles to Gardena, CA to play poker. After he and a friend got off of the bus, a group of teenage gang members attacked the two of them.
Begely’s friend escaped the attack, but Begely wasn’t so lucky. He was stabbed and beaten until his lungs had collapsed and the attacks didn’t stop until a car passed by and scared off the attackers.
Between strange luck and her lifetime of health issues, Elizabeth Taylor cheated death several times. In 1958, she and her husband, Mike Todd, were scheduled to make a flight from California to New York with three others. Before the trip took place, however, Taylor caught a cold and started feeling ill. She still wanted to make the trip but her husband insisted she stay behind if she was feeling poorly. She reluctantly did, and the plane went down during the flight, killing everyone on board.
Again in the late ‘50s, while Taylor was undergoing surgery, she was pronounced dead on the table and even said she “went to that tunnel, saw the white light,” before coming to.
Emilia Clarke was riding high from filming the first season of Game of Thrones when tragedy struck--she had a brain aneurysm. She was treated with surgery after this and went back to her high-profile gig. However, things got worse when, after filming the third season of GOT a few years later, she subsequently had another aneurysm.
Though Clarke's health ended up taking a turn for the better, she had some real uncertain moments during this time of her life, saying, "I now have a hard time remembering those dark days in much detail. My mind has blocked them out. But I do remember being convinced that I wasn't going to live."
Actress Sharon Stone didn't just have a close brush with death; she had a textbook near death experience--complete with an out of body experience and visions of old friends who had passed on before her. All of this was caused by a life threatening brain hemorrhage she suffered in 2001.
Stone described her experience like this--"I started to see and be met by some of my friends…people who were very, very dear to me [who had died]. I had a real journey with this that took me to places both here and beyond." Now she says she has no fear of dying and has described death as "a gift."
In 2015, NBA forward and former Kardashian in-law Lamar Odom was found unconscious and unresponsive in a brothel in Nevada. Odom, who had been dealing with drug addiction problems for some time, had finally overdosed, and for a while it looked like he wasn't going to make it. However, he eventually recovered and went on to seek treatment.
Odom had this to say about his harrowing experience--"When you're an addict, nothing can get through to you. I never thought I was going to die. I never thought I'd be in a coma. I didn't think I had a problem. But then I woke up in a bed with tubes coming out of my mouth—and it was real."
Drug addiction is a problem that's not uncommon among the rich and famous, and rapper Eminem knows this firsthand. Around Christmas of 2007, he suffered a drug overdose that almost cost him his life. However, he did not reveal this event for several years until the release of his 2010 album, Recovery.
In an interview, the rapper said, "I had overdosed in 2007, like, right around Christmas in 2007…I pretty much almost died. I pulled through and went home and relapsed less than a month later and I literally shot back up to the amount of pills I was taking, shot right back up to where I overdosed."
In 2016, actor Leonardo DiCaprio went on a scuba diving expedition off the Galapagos Islands. DiCaprio, who was overenthusiastic about the wildlife, dove off the boat to pursue a group of sting rays. Fellow actor and friend, Edward Norton, was on the same expedition and realized that DiCaprio didn't have enough oxygen to finish the dive, so he dove in himself to save DiCaprio's life.
In an interview, Norton said that the incident was "pumped up a bit more than it deserves." However, in the same interview he went on to say this--"I saw him going off and down and I knew that wasn’t a good thing so I followed him because I thought to myself, he’s chasing these things, he’s going to run out of air – and he did."
Horror icon Stephen King had his own brush with the terror of death way back in 1999. As the author was walking around his neighborhood, he was struck by a van and was knocked fourteen feet away from the site of impact. At the hospital, doctors considered amputating his injured leg.
Years later, King reflected on the incident by saying this--"On June 19th, 1999 I got hit by a van while taking a walk. As I lay unconscious in the hospital, the docs debated amputating my right leg and decided it could stay, on a trial basis. I got better. Every day of the 20 years since has been a gift."
One of Jane Seymour's most iconic roles was as the title character in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. However, one medical experience left Seymour at death's door. Once when she was suffering from bronchitis, Seymour needed an antibiotic shot. However, instead of being injected into her muscle, it was accidentally injected directly into a vein. This led to the actress undergoing a near-fatal case of anaphylaxis.
Seymour described the terrifying ordeal like this--"I died and was resuscitated. And I had the vision of seeing a white light and looking down and seeing myself in this bedroom with a nurse frantically trying to save my life and jabbing injections in me, and I'm calmly watching this whole thing."
Christie Brinkley rose to fame thanks to a series of iconic cover photos on several editions of the Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. In 1994, this famous model and spokeswoman almost lost her life in a terrible crash when her helicopter went down in the Rocky Mountains.
When reflecting on the crash years later, it's clear that Brinkley learned an important lesson. The actress said, "This happened 25 years ago today and not a day goes by that I have not counted my blessing for being alive. I know for a fact that tomorrow is not a guarantee and that each day is a gift and an opportunity to make sure that everybody we love knows it!"
Chevy Chase is not Hollywood's most beloved actor and comedian by any stretch of the imagination. The SNL alum has garnered a reputation over the years of being difficult to work with and mean spirited. All that being said, even someone as grumpy as Chevy Chase doesn't deserve a terrifying brush with death.
However, he got just that while filming the 1981 movie Modern Problems. In one particular scene, Chase's character is wearing a suit covered in light bulbs. Unfortunately, the suit short circuited and electrocuted the actor. Chase was knocked out cold from the incident but eventually made a full recovery.
In 1988, actor Gary Busey set out for a ride on his motorcycle and wound up in a wreck that left him struggling for life. Many of the injuries he sustained were due to the fact that he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. However, even years later, Busey is adamant about not wearing a motorcycle helmet when he rides.
However, surviving the crash was just the beginning of Busey's problems. He said this about the recovery process--"People have told me I was angry that I was in the hospital and didn't want the nurses touching me. The doctors wound up isolating me in a psychiatric ward and giving me three types of medication to calm me."
Actress Sandra Bullock hasn't had just one brush with death--she's had two in her lifetime. In 2008, Bullock and her husband at the time, Jesse James, were in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. However, the two ultimately had no lasting injuries, which is kind of a miracle, all things considered.
However, before this, in 2000, Bullock was riding in a private jet that crashed during landing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Bullock described the ordeal this way--"It was just a freak accident. But you know it happened and we walked away from it and we're here. The sheriff kept telling us 'Now if it happened any other way, you would be dead' and I'm like..."
In 2006, actor Joaquin Phoenix had brake trouble with his car while driving in Los Angeles. He lost control of the car and ended up flipping it and crashing into another one. He ended up uninjured, but Phoenix was shocked when a movie-making legend asked if he needed help. You see, the actor had crashed his car in front of German filmmaker Werner Herzog's home.
Phoenix describe his encounter with his German guardian angel like this--"There was this German voice saying 'Just relax.' There's something so calming and beautiful about Werner Herzog's voice. I felt completely fine and safe. I got out of the car and I said thank you and he was gone."
Like most musicians, Gloria Estefan is no stranger to life on the road as she tours around the world entertaining fans. Unfortunately, a 1990 tour ended in tragedy for the singer. In March of that year, Estefan's tour bus was struck by a semi-truck during a particularly bad snowstorm. Estefan survived, but the wreck did break her back, requiring emergency medical care.
As Estefan looked back on the crash, she said, "I was laying on the floor of the bus and when I opened my eyes and I knew right away that I had broken my back. I just felt so lucky to be alive and to be okay and not paralyzed at all." Thankfully, doctors were able to place titanium rods in her back to prevent fatal damage to her spinal cord.
Johnny Cash was already in bad shape when he needed an emergency double heart bypass in 1988. However, things got worse for the singer after he left the operating table. Unfortunately, he contracted pneumonia from the procedure and almost lost his life battling the illness. However, it's clear that this experience left him a changed man.
Years after in his autobiography, the singer made it clear that this experience changed his relationship with death, saying, "That great light is a light that now leads me on and directs me and guides me. That great light is the light of this world. That great light is the light out of this world, and into that better world. And I'm lookin' forward to walkin' into that great light."
Drug use among celebrities was a big problem in the 1970s (and beyond), and, unfortunately, American singer Tony Bennett knows this all too well from personal experience. After overdosing on cocaine in the bathtub, Bennett lost consciousness and would have drowned if it weren't for the emergency CPR he received.
Like some people who have a close call with death, Bennett reports having a near-death experience. He described it like this--"A golden light enveloped me in a warm glow...clear, yellow peaceful plane that everybody who mentions a near-death experience sees...It was quite peaceful; in fact, I had the sense that I was jolted out of the vision."