A Stunt On The Set Of James Cameron's True Lies Almost Ended In Disaster

For stunt workers and actors who dare to perform their own stunts, making an action movie can be dangerous. Doing a stunt isn't merely performing a trick; it requires putting your body on the line. Even just being in proximity on a film set that involves big explosions, high-speed chases, etc. is dangerous. Take for example director James Cameron's 1994 spy action comedy "True Lies."

The movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, not as the Terminator as he did in his previous two James Cameron movies, but as Harry Tasker, a husband and father who struggles to balance his familial duties with his secret life as a U.S. government agent. When he suspects his wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), is having an affair, his attempt to spice up their marriage accidentally entangles her in his ongoing operation to take down a terrorist group. Curtis is no stranger to danger; the mere sight of a butcher knife gives me flashbacks of watching the Scream Queen run for her life from Michael Myers in the "Halloween" films. However, a butcher knife is no match for an almost disastrous stunt she was involved in while filming "True Lies."

A life-terrifying limousine fight

In "True Lies," Tia Carrere plays Juno Skinner, a central antagonist who sparks a faux romance with Schwarzenegger's Harry. Naturally, the animus between Juno and Jaime Lee Curtis' Helen intensifies as the movie progresses and leads to a showdown in the final act; the two fight inside a limousine while a helicopter hovers above. In a 2022 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Carrere explained how the dangerous sequence almost ended before it even started:

"I throw [Helen] into a limousine to take her hostage in the final sequence. We're supposed to peel out in the limo, and the helicopter is supposed to land exactly where we are. Well, we're in the car, and the driver goes to start the car, but it doesn't start! The helicopter's coming down and explosions are going on outside. Jamie was like, 'Where's the walkie-talkie? Stop, stop — the limo can't start!' Then the helicopter goes back up. That was real-life terrifying."

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only scary moment to happen on set. 

A life-terrifying horse ride

Early in the movie, when Harry first meets Juno at a millionaire's extravagant party, the two tango on the dance floor. So, a running joke during production was that Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't dance. "I sent him the script and in the margins, I put an arrow to the tango scene that said, 'This is your most dangerous stunt,'" James Cameron told Yahoo Entertainment in 2019. "I think he took that to heart, because he did learn how to tango!"

Ironically, a stunt Schwarzenegger performed on the set of "True Lies" did end up becoming one of the beloved action star's most dangerous stunts. During a 2014 Q&A with fans on Reddit, he revealed the two scariest stunts of his career. First, he detailed how he almost drowned on the set of "The 6th Day." His second near-death experience happened while riding a horse on "True Lies." He explained:

"On 'True Lies,' you probably remember the horse scene. There was a shot where the horse had to stop at the edge of a building. They built a little ramp to give the horse longer to stop. But when they were measuring the new distance from the ramp to the camera, they dropped the arm of the camera on the horse's nose, and it went crazy, spinning and rearing. There was no rail, and the ramp was only 4 feet wide. I realized it was a bad situation and I slid off the horse right away and a stunt man grabbed me. That one was really scary. If the horse stepped a foot the wrong way, we would have fallen 90 feet to a cement floor."

 It appears that a lot of hard work and high risks went into making "True Lies" a success.