Which Action Stars Take the Biggest Risks?

Which Action Stars Take the Biggest Risks?

Action fans enjoy the pulse-pounding excitement of heavy hitting entertainment. Some of the biggest stars in the world are also some of the biggest risk-takers in the world. Names like Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Harrison Ford, and Angelina Jolie are internationally celebrated by hundreds of millions of fans. These action stars put their heart and soul into their roles, and they’ve been banged up pretty bad in the process.

Risk taking is not limited to those actors like Robert De Niro who took on the mob in Casino and Goodfellas. Or Billy Crystal in Analyze This and Analyze That while made guys were hustling with games of Texas Hold’em poker. While several heavyweight actors have tried to fit into ‘unnatural roles’ like Stallone as the antihero in Copland, sometimes they actually work out.

Let’s look at 3 actors who handle their own stunts, and who’ve been bruised, battered and broken to pieces in the process. These are the adrenaline junkies of Hollywood – the risk-takers who live for the thrills and spills of delivering hard-hitting blockbuster entertainment.

The countdown begins now. Hold onto your seat, this is going to be the most blistering ensemble of Hollywood reveals. These guys are fabulously wealthy, fantastically fit, and enormously successful. Grab a bucket of popcorn, put your feet up, and get ready for bone-crunching excitement!

Jackie Chan

jackie chan

Jackie Chan is a movie mogul. An Asian movie star who is arguably bigger than Bruce Lee, and more versatile than most actors in the world. He successfully transitioned from the East to the West, and now enjoys international acclaim, multi-million-dollar payouts, and a fanbase spanning hundreds of millions of people. Chan has played good guys and bad guys in his films. Several of his roles have centered around Asian gambling syndicates.

On his way to fame and fortune, Jackie Chan has participated in every single one of his own stunts. He has been scraped up, bruised, damaged, broken, lacerated and incapacitated. Yet, he continues to make movies. Kudos to this martial arts superstar, funny man, and rising talent in the dramatic scene. Here is a list of some of the bones and injuries that Jackie Chan has endured over the years:

  • Broken tooth
  • Lacerated lips
  • Broken Nose
  • Broken eyebrow bone
  • Dislocation of right shoulder
  • Broken finger bones
  • Damage to the knee
  • Ankle injury
  • Eye injury
  • Pelvis dislocation
  • Tailbone damage
  • Spinal damage
  • Broken ankle

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jackie Chan is the #1 movie star who is the real McCoy. He does his own stunts, and he’s got the scars to prove it.

Side note: Jackie Chan should not be confused with Johnny Chan, the poker online champion who scored knockout wins in the WSOP with Texas Hold’em poker and Omaha Hi-Lo poker games. Jackie’s pocket rockets are his fists of fury, while Johnny’s Aces are up his sleeve!

Sylvester Stallone


We know him as the Italian Stallion – Rocky Balboa, and John Rambo. Stallone is arguably the most legendary action star of all time. While Schwarzenegger gave him a run for his money for a while, Stallone outlasted him and retained his appeal as the world’s most popular action hero. He became larger than life in the 1980s, and he endured the rise and fall of many younger action stars along the way.

Today at 70+ years of age, Stallone remains a God among men. If you think his hard-hitting movie scenes were nothing but fluff, think again. Sylvester Stallone got banged up pretty hard in his Rocky movies, Rambo movies, and during the Expendables. Here is a list of some of the injuries he encountered along the way to superstardom:

  • Dislocated shoulders
  • Fractured neck
  • Fractured spine
  • Intensive Care Unit for heart injury suffered in Rocky 4
  • Torn right pectoral muscle

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

While filming Mission Impossible, Tom Cruise the Hollywood A-list celebrity sustained an ankle injury on set when he mistimed a jump onto the top of a building. This is one of many injuries suffered by Cruise in the movie industry. He’s one of a handful of actors who performs his own stunts.

Cruise is also a pilot, like Harrison Ford, and he routinely performs daring stunts on the outside of an airplane. He’s clearly one of the Hollywood juggernauts who enjoys the adrenaline rush.

Why Do These Actors Take These Risks?

These actors are at the pinnacle of their careers, and they don’t need to put their lives or limbs at risk by doing their own stunts. Yet they do. Why? The psychology behind their actions is rooted in a chemical known as dopamine. According to research conducted by 888poker, dopamine rewards us with satisfaction, happiness, and a natural high.

Adrenaline junkies release 10 x more dopamine than regular people, and it is risky behavior that stimulates this neural and chemical activity. Guys like Tom Cruise, Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone have been applying their craft for many years. They don’t need to do it since there are body doubles, stunt doubles, and special effects CGI visual artistry that can substitute for them. Yet they do it?

These actors have applied their risk-seeking propensity in the ‘mind games arena’ too with poker games. Tom Cruise was always a risk taker; back in the 1980s, he starred alongside Paul Newman in ‘The Color of Money’ where he displayed his risk-taking abilities with Texas Hold’em poker and Omaha High Low. Cruise instantly shot to fame and fortune, as a world-class superstar.

Stallone was up to the challenge in ‘Shade’ where he portrayed a legendary poker player who would not be outhustled by the young gun in the industry. Stallone nailed the role of the unflappable poker player; slick suave and sophisticated!

What Makes Us Risk Takers?

According to the study, risky behavior is influenced by a variety of factors including gender and age. Until the age of around 25, the area of our brain – the frontal lobe – responsible for judgment is not fully developed. This means that teenagers are far more likely to take risks than adults.

Since women are more risk-averse, they are less likely to engage in the risk-seeking behavior. This analogy clearly doesn’t apply to card players like online poker players, since the numbers indicate an increasing percentage of female poker players in high stakes poker online contests.

But it probably explains why the Hollywood beauties prefer not to get all banged up on set. Even everyday folks engage in the risk-seeking behavior, and here are examples of that:

  • 10% of people drink alcohol before driving
  • 30% of people text while they’re driving
  • 20% of people have driven by someone who’s been drinking

So clearly, it’s not only the Hollywood heavyweights who take risks, it’s the rest of us too!

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