War Movies That Ruined Actors Lives

By Jack Ripley | October 3, 2023

After 'Saving Private Ryan,' Tom Hanks Felt Omaha Beach Was 'A Holy Place'

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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(dreamworks pictures)

For Tom Hanks, filming Saving Private Ryan was a profound and transformative experience. To prepare for the film, Hanks, along with the rest of the cast, was put through an intensive boot camp led by military advisor and former Marine, Captain Dale Dye. The cast experienced the grueling physical demands and lack of creature comforts akin to real military training. Dye's intention was not just to get the actors in shape, but to give them a genuine sense of the bond that forms between soldiers in the face of adversity. The infamous Omaha Beach landing sequence, one of the most realistic and visceral depictions of war ever committed to film, was physically and emotionally draining for all involved. When Hanks visited the real Omaha beach, he felt like he was walking on holy ground: 

The movie was shooting the sequences there and I lingered...well, I walked the entire length of Omaha Beach, from one end to the next. And just knowing everything that had happened there, I got to the very end and I was wondering if there was going to be any sort of sign of who we were [in the film] …

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.'”