You may think that working on a TV or movie set is all fun and games, but your day-to-day duties can get pretty bonker from time to time (hence the name of this list). That’s why it helps to have some stories at the ready when you start meeting people and telling them what you do for work. Here are bonkers stories from people who have worked on TV or movie sets that you can share with anyone who might question your career choice.
1) The actor who got fired for being too short
In the world of Hollywood, getting fired can be part of the job description. But there are some things that just don’t make sense. For example, an actor may get fired because they’re too short or don’t have enough hair. Some actors are even let go because they’re too old to play a certain character. One actor in particular got fired for being too short—despite the fact that he was actually taller than his co-star! His termination from the movie set resulted in him missing out on $80,000 worth of work. And another actor got fired because he couldn’t grow a beard despite being older than 21 years old.
2) The actress who was almost eaten by a lion
Growing up, I aspired to be a movie star. I never really thought about what that would entail until a few years ago when I was asked to be in the sequel to one of the most iconic horror movies ever: Jaws. As a child, this movie scared me so much that I refused to go into any body of water for at least two years after watching it. So you can imagine my hesitation in agreeing to spend 12 hours filming on the famous movie set known as Amity Island- which is where they filmed the beginning scene of Jaws.
I’ll skip over all the details but let’s just say everything went smoothly–until we came face-to-face with an actual live (and very hungry) lion!
3) The actor who was replaced by a chimpanzee
In a bizarre marketing ploy, a chimpanzee was dressed as George Taylor in this movie which was filmed in the 1920s. This is one of the most bonker stories about people who have worked on movie sets because it’s so surprising. A chimpanzee was hired to play the role of George Taylor, but then it didn’t work out so well because chimpanzees can’t really act. The original actor had to come back, but he refused and walked off set during production. The director had to get some peanut butter from his wife’s handbag to bribe the chimp with while they filmed scenes with him. It ended up being a very expensive advertising campaign for peanuts!
4) The actress who was body-shamed by a director
One actress who worked on a movie set said that she was told by the director that she looked too fat, needed to lose weight, and should wear a corset. This is obviously not okay, but it’s something that happens all the time. But when this actress looked at herself in the mirror after wearing the corset, she saw her ribcage protruding through her skin. The director then asked for a robe for the actress to wear over her corset so it wouldn’t be visible because no one needs to see that. You would think these directors would have some compassion, but I guess they just don’t get it.
Actors often face an unfair level of scrutiny on movie sets with regard to how they look in certain clothes or make-up. What they don’t realize is that the actors are human beings and there are more important things than what their body looks like under fluorescent lighting.
5) The actor who was electrocuted during a stunt
In the early 1900s, before there were safety measures in place, actors would perform their own stunts. One such stunt involved an actor’s character being electrocuted. When the director yelled cut, the actor remained standing with one foot in a bucket of water and one foot out. The voltage was turned off but the current was still running through his body. He soon found himself unable to move because he was so full of electricity that it lit up all around him like a halo. He had to be pried loose with levers by men who couldn’t touch him because they would have been killed too.
6) The actress who was sprayed with garbage
I was working on a movie set when the actress was sprayed with garbage. The director, who is always in charge, had to be pulled away from this woman by his assistants. She was screaming that she hates her life and doesn’t want to go back to her trailer. I don’t know what happened before I got there but it seemed like a really bad experience for all involved. She’s not the only person I’ve seen treated badly either. One time, someone yelled at me for being two minutes late getting coffee for them. They were mad about me not being on time so they said you’re fired! but then later called me back up and apologized.
7) The actor who was punched by a co-star
It’s not uncommon for people to get into fights while working on movie sets, but it’s pretty rare that somebody punches somebody else in the face. That’s what happened to actor Guy Pearce during the filming of LA Confidential in 1997. He was punched by a co-star, J.T. Walsh, who apparently didn’t like Guy’s performance in a scene where he got slapped across the face by Kim Basinger. Guy said I’ll remember it as long as I live, which could have been because of the pain or possibly because he knew that he would be one of those stories we tell our friends when we see them at the pub some time down the line.