Over the course of his long stunt-filled career, Jackie Chan has broken his breastbone, ankle, nose, and even his superciliary bone (that’s his eyebrow bone). He’s dislocated his pelvis and cheek bone. He’s damaged his spine and his tailbone. He’s injured his chin, his knee, his ankle, and pretty much every other body part mentioned in “The Skeleton Dance” song we sing as kids.
These bang-ups were all non-life-threatening, and we’d have reason to believe, resulting from stunts attempted while sober. Turns out that Chan’s most serious injury, though, a skull fracture on the set of the 1986 action-comedy Armour of God that nearly killed him, came after a little drinking and stunting.
“In the morning, I was drinking a beer in the movie,” Chan recounted to Yahoo Entertainment during a recent Role Recall interview (watch clip above). “In this day, I’d probably be drinking a water,” he explained, but since the scene required the fizz-pop of a beer can, Chan repeatedly cracked open brews and took a swig… “Then I jumped through a tree.”
Chan wasn’t satisfied with the first take (“It wasn’t fast enough… I wanted to [swing] like a monkey”), so they tried it again, and after more beer. On the second take, the tree’s limbs gave way, and the actor plunged downward, desperately attempting to grab hold of other branches that also broke.
He crashed hard onto a rock. “My whole body was numb,” he said. His ear began bleeding. He was rushed to the hospital and found himself under the knife, where surgeons tended to his cracked skull and the bone that had penetrated his brain as a result of the fall. “[I] almost died.”
Chan is still doing his own stunts today, including on his latest film, The Foreigner — but it’s safe to say he’s pre-gaming for them with water.
Watch our full Role Recall interview with Jackie Chan:
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