War Movies That Ruined Actors Lives

By Jack Ripley | January 11, 2024

Martin Sheen Had To 'Wrestle With Demons' While Filming 'Apocalypse Now'

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.

test article image
(United Artists)

Martin Sheen delivered a career-defining performance as Captain Benjamin L. Willard in Apocalypse Now, but the process of filming was a legendary ordeal. Sheen was not the original choice for the role of Willard; Harvey Keitel had been cast initially but was replaced a week into production.  Sheen was fully committed to the character of Willard, which was a demanding role that often blurred the lines between fiction and reality. In the film's iconic opening sequence, a drunken and psychologically tormented Willard trashes his hotel room. Sheen, who was genuinely intoxicated during the shoot, improvised much of the scene, even going as far as injuring himself by punching a mirror. Perhaps the most harrowing episode occurred when Sheen suffered a heart attack while on location in the Philippines, at the young age of 36. After a brief hiatus, Sheen returned to complete his scenes, despite not being fully recovered. Despite the physical and emotional toll of the shoot, Sheen's performance in Apocalypse Now is widely regarded as one of his best.

Matthew Modine's Friendship with Vincent D'Onofrio Was Almost Broken By 'Full Metal Jacket'

test article image
(Warner Bros.)

During the filming of Full Metal Jacket, Matthew Modine, who played the lead role of Private Joker, and Vincent D'Onofrio, who portrayed the troubled Private Pyle, shared a camaraderie that was almost severed by their creative differences. Modine was not a fan of D'Onofrio's method acting, whereas D'Onofrio thought Modine's more laidback approach signaled a lack of motivation:

I asked him: 'What are you gonna do if I don't stop joking around?' And Vince goes, 'Well, I'm gonna kick your ***. ' That was the end of our friendship for the rest of the shoot.

The two actors eventually managed to repair their friendship after the film wrapped, recognizing that the challenging experience had only strengthened their bond in the end.