In a tragic turn of events, two Kannada actors are feared drowned in the Thippagondahalli reservoir following a free-falling stunt for a film shoot on November 7. Anil and Uday were stuntmen for Kannada film Mastigudi, starring Duniya Vijay. They jumped from a helicopter into the water from a height of 30 feet, along with the lead star. However, Vijay was rescued since he was wearing a life jacket. The stuntmen, however, were not wearing life jackets and are believed to have been drowned. Their bodies have not been recovered yet.
The incident shook the film industry, and brought to light the scant safety measures in place during film-making. It was also reminiscent of another tragedy that happened 36 years ago in Kerala. Krishnan Nair, or Jayan as he is known on screen, died in similar circumstances during the shoot of the climax of his film, Kolilakkam.
Hollywood has also lost many legendary and upcoming actors to stunts and deaths during production, either accidentally or due to ill health of the actors. The film-makers working on their films either had to replace the actor and re-shoot scenes, or manage with CGI-animated fill-ins. Here's a quick look at instances when actors died during film shoots:
Solomon and Sheba: Tyrone Power, 1914-1958
He died in November 1958 from a massive heart attack, in the middle of a duelling scene, aged 44. He was shooting for Solomon and Sheba, when after a scene with George Sanders, he felt pain in his left arm. He died in an hour after being taken to the hospital in Madrid. The film producers cast Yul Brynner in place of Power as Solomon. Power was known for his roles in The Mark of Zorro (1940), The Black Rose (1950) and Witness For The Prosecution (1957).
The Misfits: Clark Gable , 1901-1960
The Gone With the Wind star died at 59 in November 1960. Days after his death, which was attributed to heart attack and an arterial blood clot, rumours suggested he died of overworking himself. He had to lose almost 16kg for his role in The Misfits, for which he went on a crash diet. He was also subjected to “physically demanding” routines and stress during the shoot, according to his then-pregnant wife Kay Gable. Shooting for the film was completed, and it was released in 1961.
Twilight Zone: Vic Morrow, 1929-1982
In a horrific accident, 53-year-old Morrow and two child actors died after a helicopter crashed onto them. Morrow was starring in the main role for Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1982 when a scene involving a helicopter chasing the three characters ended in tragedy. On the director's orders, the helicopter was allegedly at a height of 25 feet, above the three actors. While the film released without Morrow's scenes, the crew and director were charged with manslaughter. It brought about a change in the way films were made in Hollywood, with 'risk assessment consultants' a fixed stature on all film sets now.
The Crow: Brandon Lee, 1965-1993
Aged just 28, martial artist Bruce Lee's son was killed on the sets of fantasy action flick, The Crow. He was accidentally shot at from a distance of 15 feet in a scene. The gun was supposed to be filled with blanks, but due to production mismanagement, a dummy bullet was lodged in the barrel. During the scene, when the actor pulled the trigger aimed at Lee, the bullet ripped through Lee's abdomen. Despite surgeries, he succumbed to the wound. The film was completed with CGI stand-in to finish off Lee's remaining scenes.
The Gladiator: Oliver Reed, 1938-1999
The 2000 major hit The Gladiator would have been a comeback for Reed, but was, in fact, his last. Aged 61, he died of a heart attack when he, his friends and film crew took a break from the shoot and went to a pub. Known for his roles in The Three Musketeers (1973) and Women in Love (1969), he was known as a 'hellraiser', but also a dedicated professional. The rest of his scenes were completed with a CGI stand-in, and he went on to be nominated posthumously for the BAFTA Award for his supporting role.