War Movies That Ruined Actors Lives

By Jack Ripley | December 7, 2023

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

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
(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.'”

Brad Pitt Said The Training For 'Fury' Was 'Designed To Make Us Miserable'

test article image
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

In Fury, Brad Pitt plays the role of Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier, the hardened commander of a Sherman tank and its five-man crew. The director, David Ayer,  sought to create an authentic portrayal of life inside a tank. For starters, the cast underwent a rigorous boot camp training led by Navy SEALs to understand the physical demands faced by soldiers. The objective was not only to get them in shape but also to foster a sense of camaraderie and understanding of military hierarchy. Pitt, as the tank commander, was tasked with pushing his crew members hard during this training to establish his authority. The cast also spent a great deal of time inside the claustrophobic, confined space of the tank itself, learning about its operation and mechanics. Ayer's desire for realistic battle scenes meant shooting in challenging conditions, with the actors performing their own stunts whenever possible. Pitt reportedly injured himself during one scene, but despite the pain, he was keen to continue shooting. Despite the rigorous and challenging process, Pitt spoke positively about the experience, particularly praising the bond he formed with his fellow actors.