The cast and crew of 1999’s The Mummy had to deal with snakes, sandstorms, and sickness while shooting the action-adventure blockbuster in Morocco.
“We got a lot of B12 shots in the a–, whether we wanted them or not,” half-jokes Brendan Fraser, who played the adventurer Rick O’Connell in director Stephen Sommers’ movie.
For Fraser, the shoot’s most harrowing experience came when filming a scene which takes place early in the movie and finds his character getting hanged — but not killed — in a prison.
“I did get fully choked-out. It was scary,” Fraser told EW, for a 20th anniversary article about the film in the new issue of EW. “Rick is dangling at the end of the rope, and he’s such a tough guy that his neck didn’t snap. We did the wide shot, which was the stuntman going down, and he had a harness on, and it looked great. Then they’ve got to go in [for a close-up]. There was a hangman’s gallows, and there was a hemp rope tied into a noose that was placed around my neck. The first take, I’m doing my best choking acting. Steve says, ‘Can we got for another one and take up the tension on the rope?’ I said, ‘All right, one more take.’ Because a noose around your neck’s going to choke you in the arteries, no matter what. So, the stuntman took up the tension on the rope, and I went up on the balls of my feet, then I guess he took the tension up again, and I’m not a ballerina, I can’t stand on my tip-toes. I remember seeing the camera start to pan around, and then it was like a black iris at the end of a silent film. It was like turning down the volume switch on your home stereo, like the Death Star powering down. I regained consciousness and one of the EMTs was saying my name. There was gravel in my ear and s— really hurt. The stunt coordinator came over, and he said, ‘Hi! Welcome to the club, bro! Ha ha ha!’ And I was like, “Ha ha, funny? Ha ha?’ Like, What the hell? I want to go home! Steven — he and I disagree — but I think he was trying to go, ‘Oh, that wacky Brendan, acting up a storm again!’, or something like that. I was like, ‘Hey, you guys think what you need to, but I’m done for the day.’”
Sommers recalls the incident differently.
“[Brendan] is totally to blame,” says the director. “He tightens the noose, and then, as we’re about to get the shot, he’s trying to make it look like it’s really strangling him. I guess it cut off his carotid artery, or whatever, and knocked him out. He did it to himself”
“Stephen needed to sell that Rick was actually choking, so, technically yes, it was my fault, that I was following direction from my director to sell it,” says the actor. “You know what? To be fair to that remark, I did make one fatal error. I figured before the camera lands on me, I will take three really deep breaths, so my face turns purple and my veins pop out of my neck. I’ll really f—ing sell it, you know! That had to have been a [lesson in how] to asphyxiate yourself. I mean, that had to have been it. So, you know what? In me pointing fingers at Stephen, and vice versa, you got me on that point. I was doing my job to look like a man dangling by his neck about to die. I got to say, what you see in the movie is the take that they did, so they had to cut away, because moments later, I was out of it.”
We should probably point out that, while the pair may disagree as to what exactly happened on that day in Morocco, they would remain friends and collaborators, working again on 2001’s The Mummy Returns and 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
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