Seven Famous Actors Who Were Genuinely Terrified On Set

Game of Thrones just aired it’s , Battle of the Bastards, and already, there’s talk of Kit Harington winning awards for his portrayal of Jon Snow, particularly for the scenes following the main fight. , so Miguel exploited this in order to draw out one of the strongest performances ever seen on the show.

This approach may sound harsh, but Sapochnik isn’t the only filmmaker to play upon the fears of his cast in search of authenticity. Join us as we count down seven times that actors were genuinely terrified on set. Turns out that the stars don’t always have it as easy as we thought.

1. Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter Franchise

RIP Alan Rickman

RIP Alan Rickman

The late Alan Rickman was one of Britain’s most beloved actors, but things can look different when you’re younger. Well, that’s the excuse we’re going to use to defend Daniel Radcliffe, who revealed that he was terrified of the man who played Severus Snape back when he first took on the role of a lifetime in the Harry Potter franchise.

Of course though, Rickman did play villains extremely well and as the two grew to know each other more, both Radcliffe and Rickman became good friends behind the scenes while filming.

2. Alan Rickman – Die Hard

Via Fox

Via Fox

Speaking of Alan Rickman, the acclaimed actor first made a name for himself as the villainous Hans Gruber, who took on Bruce Willis in the debut instalment of the Die Hard franchise.

While Alan wasn’t intimidated by his cast-mates, what did scare him was the way his character was killed off at the end. To film the death scene, Rickman agreed to fall onto an airbag from 25 feet up, but as the director counted down from three, he dropped Rickman early on purpose, eliciting a priceless reaction that has to be seen to be believed.

3. Veronica Cartwright – Alien

Even if you’re not a fan, everyone remembers Ridley Scott’s first Alien film for the iconic chest-bursting scene, but it turns out that the cast themselves were left far more traumatised by that moment than anyone in the actual audience back in 1979.

The cast knew something would emerge from John Hurt’s body, but that was all. To lull them further into a false sense of security, Scott only moved Hurt’s chest slightly on the first take, so that everyone would lean in closer for the next. For the main event, the alien suddenly exploded outwards, showering everyone in rancid pig organs.

Veronica Cartwright received the worst of it, hysterically sobbing as she tried to continue onward, but she eventually fainted before the scene could be finished that day.

4. Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad

Via Warner Bros

Via Warner Bros

Suicide Squad isn’t even out yet, but everyone already knows that Jared Leto took his method acting to some dark places on set, sending bullets and dead rats to various cast members while remaining in character for almost the entire time.

Margot Robbie’s character Harley Quinn has the closest links with Leto’s Joker, but even she was initially terrified of Jared while shooting. Strangely though, Robbie now says that she finds Leto far scarier out of his make-up than she ever did when he looked like the Joker.

5. Janet Leigh – Psycho

The infamous shower scene in Psycho may have been in recent years, but back in 1960, Hitchcock’s technical marvel of a sequence ruined showers for an entire generation.

Janet Leigh was affected even worse than most, which is understandable when you consider that she was the one actually in the room at the time. Since filming Psycho, Leigh reportedly refused to take showers unless she had to, locking all of the windows while keeping the bathroom door wide open.

6. Kel O’Neill – There Will Be Blood

Via Paramount

Via Paramount

Actors are occasionally replaced on set after filming begins, but this is usually due to performance issues or scheduling conflicts. However, on the set of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, young actor Kel O’Neill left two weeks into the shot for entirely different reasons.

Daniel DayLewis went full method once again for the starring role, reportedly terrifying Kel O’Neill so much that he eventually couldn’t handle the actor’s intensity anymore. To be fair, this isn’t particularly surprising, as his replacement Paul Dano had a tough time on set too, even dodging bowling balls that Day- Lewis threw at one point.

7. The Whole Cast – The Blair Witch Project

Via Artisan Entertainment

Via Artisan Entertainment

The Blair Witch Project broke new ground for budget filmmaking upon it’s release, kickstarting a whole new wave of found footage cinema, but few of it’s successors went to the same harrowing lengths to draw authentic performances out of their actors.

While the three leads camped out in the woods for real, the directors would stalk the actors, throwing rocks just out of site, sneaking onto the camp at night to play audio clips of children’s laughter. With no script to work from, the actors had no idea when or how the filmmakers would try and freak them out, resulting in genuinely terrified performances.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the food rations grew smaller and smaller each day, all in an effort to make the the central trio angrier and feel more run-down while filming.

Do you think it’s ethical to purposely scare actors while working on set?

It does make for great cinema. You can’t argue with that!


The day someone green-lights a Marvel Zombies Ghibli film directed by Xavier Dolan is the day I will be happy. Any day now…