We love watching celebrities act out larger-than-life experiences on the big screen. And in countless films, we watch our favorite actors cheat death again and again.
For some of the biggest celebrities, though, they don’t have to imagine what it would be like to narrowly escape death. Instead, they have firsthand knowledge of what it is like to nearly die!
Which of your favorite celebs almost met the Grim Reaper? Here are some of the best stories of celebs who survived near-death experiences.
Thanks to roles in movies like Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds makes action scenes look effortless (even when applying what Deadpool would call “maximum effort”). But a bit of real-life action nearly took Reynolds’ life when he was only 17!
He decided to try skydiving, and had jumped out of a plane when the unthinkable happened: his parachute failed to open. While he survived thanks to the reserve parachute, he describes experiencing existential dread during the fall.
The star told Digital Spy, “I’m up there thinking, ‘When I pull this reserve and nothing happens, that’s it — I’m still alive but I’m already dead.'” His panic was so great, he thought, “Physically I cannot release that reserve because I don’t want to find out if it’s going to work or not.”
Obviously, he ended up pulling the reserve cord, which saved his life. But he spent what felt like a long time in the air convinced that he was as good as dead.
Near-death experiences can change your life forever. Many who have such experiences are never quite the same. But to hear Kanye tell the story, that might not be a bad thing!
Back in 2002, Kanye fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into another vehicle. It was pretty rugged, breaking both of the other driver’s legs and leaving Kanye with his mouth wired shut.
But this ended up being the best thing that could happen to him. PopSugar reports that when Kanye spoke to Interview Magazine, he credited the incident with kickstarting his career. “The accident gave me the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do. During that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making The College Dropout.”
And the rest is musical history. As for celebrity history, it’s tough to beat this next story.
Thanks to movies like Crank and The Expendables, Jason Statham has become the face of fast-paced action. But a stunt for one of his movies nearly ended the actor’s life!
While filming The Expendables 3, Statham was test-driving a truck when its brakes went out. This sent the truck careening down 60 feet into the ocean, but Statham was able to swim to safety.
According to co-star Sylvester Stallone, Statham was the only man who could have survived the accident. Stallone told The Mirror, “Luckily we had taken the doors off before. If anyone else had been in that truck we would have been dead because we were all wearing heavy boots and gun belts.We would have drowned. But because Jason is an Olympic-quality diver he got out of it.”
As it turns out, Statham is not so “expendable” after all.
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Michael J. Fox
What if being too good at your job nearly got you killed? In the case of Michael J. Fox, that’s exactly what happened!
In Back to the Future Part III, there is a scene where Fox’s character Marty McFly is being hanged before he is rescued by Doc Brown. He was supposed to keep his hands in a specific position to keep from being harmed. But when he accidentally moved his hands, he started getting hanged for real!
It took a few moments for the cast and crew to realize he wasn’t simply acting. Though Fox looks back on this scene with amusement. ScreenRant reports that in Fox’s memoir, he recounts, “I swung unconscious at the end of the rope for several seconds before Bob Zemeckis, fan of me though he was, realized even I wasn’t that good of an actor.”
Fox almost died because he’s such a good actor. But the next celeb survived because he’s so good at partying!
In some ways, Seth MacFarlane’s near-death story is much milder than everyone else on this list. And in other ways, it’s much worse!
Originally, Seth MacFarlane was scheduled on one of the planes that was hijacked by terrorists and used in the 9/11 attacks. He was originally meant to be on Flight 11, which was the first to hit the Twin Towers.
What saved his life? Partying, of course! MacFarlane told AOL Television that he missed the flight “by 10 minutes or so” because “I was hung over and running late.” If not for a wild night of partying, MacFarlane would have died in one of the worst possible ways.
Let’s be honest: most of us don’t fully read the instructions before we dive into something new. But Simon Cowell found out that this mistake could be downright deadly!
He was simply trying out a new electric bike with his son, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s son on August 8, 2020. He ended up falling on his back and needed to be hospitalized for six hours while doctors attended to various breaks and inserted a metal rod into his back.
Still, Cowell had a sense of humor about the incident. On Twitter, he later wrote, “Some good advice… If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time.”
As bad as the accident was, it could have been worse. Just ask the next celeb on our list!
Some of the celebs on this list nearly died while filming hit movies. For Sharon Stone, though, death came when she least expected it!
Shortly after she completed filming for 1990’s Total Recall, Stone was driving along Sunset Boulevard when she was hit by a car riding on the wrong side of the road. Express reports Stone’s statement: “I was hit head on and don’t know how I escaped with my life. I dislocated my jaw, sprained my back, broke a rib and twisted a knee. I was put in a back brace and told to stay in bed for six months.”
That’s terrible enough, but she escaped death again in 2001 when she nearly died from a brain aneurysm. Fortunately, Sharon Stone is way too tough to die so easily.
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How can you tell that a celebrity’s near-death experience is wild? When they actually die, of course!
In 1988, actor Gary Busey crashed his motorcycle. Since he was riding without a helmet, the crash led to a major skull fracture that required brain surgery. Busey even briefly died on the operating table!
If that’s not insane enough, Busey actually described visiting the afterlife. He told The Guardian that he could see angels and floating balls of light. Furthermore, he discovered that “your soul is housed in the column of your spine” and that the experience of death “is painless, free and lovely.”
For the next celeb, though, the experience of near-death was anything but lovely!
In The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio famously clashes with a vicious bear. The bear itself was nothing more than a special effect. But in real life, Leo faced something scarier: a great white shark!
DiCaprio is a big fan of scuba diving, but things got scary on a diving trip in South Africa. While the actor was inside a protective cage, a great white shark got half of its body inside the cage and nearly got a taste!
He described his near-death experience to Wired in 2015. “They chum the water with tuna. A wave came and the tuna sort of flipped up into the air. A shark jumped up and grabbed the tuna, and half its body landed inside the cage with me. I sort of fell down to the bottom and tried to lie flat. The great white took about five or six snaps an arm’s length away from my head.”
By all accounts, this was truly a freak incident. DiCaprio revealed just how unlikely it was: “The guys there said that has never happened in the 30 years they’d been doing it.”
Obviously, near-death experiences are very serious business. But that doesn’t mean they can’t happen for silly reasons. And if you don’t believe it, just ask Martin Lawrence!
Back in 1999, Lawrence suffered a heat stroke when his temperature rose to a deadly 107 degrees Fahrenheit. But the only reason this happened was that he was jogging in the heat while wearing several layers of bulky clothing.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Lawrence was simply trying “sweat off” some pounds. He ended up in a coma for three days before luckily making a full recovery.