War Movies That Ruined Actors Lives

By Jack Ripley | December 28, 2023

After 'American Sniper,' Bradley Cooper Checks Possible Threats On Entering Rooms

Are you ready for action? This captivating gallery reveals the grit, sweat, and occasional tears that have peppered the paths of actors while making some of the most memorable war movies in cinematic history. From tales of grueling boot camps that pushed actors to their physical limits, to on-set accidents that left more than just emotional scars, this collection showcases the commitment, endurance, and sheer determination that brought these intense roles to life. Each image and accompanying story highlights the reality behind the spectacle – a world far removed from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Discover the intense training that went into 'Platoon,' the unexpected typhoon that disrupted 'Apocalypse Now,' and the camaraderie that helped the cast of 'Saving Private Ryan' recreate the horrors of D-Day. So, grab some popcorn, settle in, and brace yourself for an inside look at the world of war movies that's as riveting as the films themselves.

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(Warner Bros.)

To embody Chris Kyle's character in American Sniper, Cooper had to undergo an incredible transformation, both physically and mentally. He reportedly gained around 40 pounds of muscle for the role, sticking to a rigorous diet and workout regimen that included consuming 6,000 calories a day and intensive weightlifting training. The making of American Sniper was also emotionally demanding for Cooper. One of the most stressful scenes he had to film was the phone call between Chris Kyle and his wife, Taya, while he was engaged in a firefight. Cooper has mentioned in interviews how difficult and emotionally draining it was to shoot this sequence, and how he felt that Kyle has never truly left him since:
 

After that, you're more aware of everything. He didn't really leave me.

Making 'Born on the Fourth of July,' Tom Cruise Was 'On Edge Every Day'

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(Universal Pictures)

Based on the autobiography of Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic, Born On The Fourth Of July required an immense commitment from all involved, particularly from its lead actor, Tom Cruise, who played Kovic. To prepare for the role, Cruise went through an extensive period of research and physical training. He spent time with Kovic himself, learning about his experiences and perspectives on the war, the injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down, and his subsequent activism against the Vietnam War. Cruise found the role of Kovic demanding, yet the lines were often blurred between actor and character:

“I’d nailed the character in Dallas, and then we’d done Vietnam, and then I had a scene where I had to be Ron in a wheelchair again. I was just like, ‘I don’t know where I am. I lost it. Am I Kovic now?’ I remember I was so physically exhausted. I said, ‘Oliver, I’m sorry, man, I just don’t have it. I’m lost.’ He said, ‘You are Kovic, just do it, don’t think about it.'”