They’ve played quick-thinking action heroes and special agents on screen, and when a real-life disaster went down before their eyes, these celebs barely even blinked. A surprising number of A-listers have been ready to help save the day, and their astounding actions ultimately rescued some lives.
1. Wolverine Against The Waves
Is there anything Hugh Jackman can’t do? He sings, he dances, he’s an action star, and apparently he doubles as a real-life superhero. His moment of truth came when Jackman was spending some quality time with his son at Sydney’s Bondi Beach, hanging out on the shore — and something in the water suddenly shifted.
In a matter of minutes, the current changed dramatically, and a strong riptide started dragging the swimmers out to sea, Jackman’s young son among them. Without wasting a single second, the Wolverine star swam out to his son and a few other swimmers caught by the current, and brought them all to the sandbar and to safety.
2. Sherlock Stops Crime
On a normal day in London (so, we assume gray and maybe just a tad rainy), Sherlock and Doctor Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch and his wife Sophie Hunter were riding in the back of an Uber, when Cumberbatch noticed four men accosting a Deliveroo driver and leapt into action.
The four attackers were attempting to steal the Deliveroo driver’s bicycle, when Cumberbatch abruptly asked for his Uber driver to hit the brakes. He jumped out of his car and pulled the men off, telling them to leave the delivery driver alone. Maybe it was his martial arts skills from his days on Sherlock, or perhaps the four attempted-thieves recognized the actor and panicked, but either way everyone walked away unscathed.
3. Two Legends Take On An Attacker
If you thought you couldn’t possibly love Meryl Streep and Cher any more than you already do, just you wait. It all went down back in the ’80s ,when Streep and gal pal Cher were hanging out, and decided they wanted some ice cream (can we please, please be invited next time?). But, upon leaving Streep’s New York City apartment, they stumbled upon a horrifying scene — and acted fast to save the day.
As described, a “gigantic man” was throwing bricks at parked cars, before bounding a corner, and suddenly, the pair heard a woman scream. Streep and Cher fearlessly charged forward and started screaming before the man ran off. Don’t worry, the woman was unscathed, and so all we have left to wonder is, where’s the buddy cop movie starring Streep and Cher we all so desperately need?
4. Ryan Gosling Goes The Extra Mile
We can promise that this story is 100% true, and not an outtake from The Notebook, even though it’s as equally swoon-worthy as a scene from the romantic drama. Back in 2016, Ryan Gosling was en route to Palm Springs to celebrate the birthday of his partner Eva Mendes, when he noticed a puppy caught in the middle of the thoroughway.
But nothing bad was going to happen on Ryan Gosling’s watch! The actor pulled over, parked his car, and rescued the poor little pup, returning the fur baby to its owner. Meanwhile, the paparazzi were apparently too busy capturing photographs of the entire event to actually help out — but thanks to Gosling, puppies everywhere can feel safer.
5. Kate Winslet Makes Our Hearts Go On
Near, far, wherever you are, Kate Winslet will come to your rescue and save the day — unless you’re Jack in Titanic (that door was totally big enough for two!). While vacationing in a villa owned by major mogul Sir Richard Branson, Kate Winslet woke up at 4:30am to pandemonium all around her. The building had been struck by lightning.
Winslet frantically led her children out of the blazing building and down some steps, where she encountered Sir Richard’s mother, Eve, who was trying to make her way out as well. The steps were slippery, and with everyone chaotically rushing away as fast as possible, Winslet simply scooped her up and carried her down the remaining stairs to safety.
6. Zoe Saldana Saves The Day
Car accidents are unfortunately all too commonplace, but being aided by a blockbuster movie star after facing a near-death experience is far less likely, unless Zoe Saldana is around. After witnessing a roadside collision in Culver City, the star of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar quickly took action.
The actress, alongside another concerned driver, parked their cars and ran out to help the victim out of the wreck and onto the sidewalk. Saldana hastily called for paramedics, and made sure to stay by the woman’s side until she received medical attention. Only once she was certain that the woman would be alright, did Saldana return to her car, probably driving more cautiously than ever.
7. Harrison Ford Helicopters To Help
This screen legend has played Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Rick Deckard. But after learning about a real-life act of heroism by Harrison Ford, we have to wonder how much of his screen work was acting, and how much was the real deal. For one terrified 13-year old Boy Scout, he may well be the ultimate action hero.
When the boy had been separated from his troop in Yellowstone National Park, he had to use everything he’d learned to seek shelter from an increasingly powerful storm, ultimately spending the night in a cave. The next day, while flying his private helicopter around the area, Harrison Ford found the boy and returned him to safety.
8. Ken Jeong’s More Than Hilarious
You might find it hard to believe based on how uproariously and outrageously funny he is in the raucous Hangover movie series, or as his character Ben Chang on the comedy Community, but actor Ken Jeong was actually a licensed physician before becoming an actor. That skill came in handy at a recent stand-up comedy set.
While slaying the crowd with his comedic stylings on stage, a woman in the audience began having a seizure. At first unsure what was going on, Jeong’s instincts from his days as an internal medicine practitioner kicked in to help him save the day. He tended to the woman, who regained consciousness soon after.
9. Fast & Furious Enough to Save a Family
He’s fast, he’s furious, and he’s coming to the rescue of car drivers everywhere. Honestly, this story is so fitting for Vin Diesel, it might easily have been a scene in one of the Fast & Furious films. Several years ago, the franchise star was cruising around Hollywood on his motorcycle, when the driver of the car in front of him lost control.
The family car skidded out before it flipped over several times and erupted in fire. Dom, or rather, Diesel (he’s so much like his character it’s hard to tell them apart) pulled the two children out before rushing back to help the driver. And just in the nick of time! Moments later, the entire car was completely engulfed in flames.
10. America’s Dad Prevents A Drowning
How did Tom Hanks earn the nickname “America’s Dad,” you may wonder? Well, it’s because Hanks has been kindly and quietly taking care of business and keeping us mere mortals safe since his early years in Hollywood. Back in 1998, on the set of Saving Private Ryan, he did something absolutely extraordinary.
When Hanks and an extra were thrown into some deep water, the extra just barely managed to tell the star that he had lied on his résumé, and did not know how to swim. Hanks saved the man from drowning, who was then excused from the scene. We can’t think of anything more comforting than being helped out of danger by this guardian angel.
11. Heidi Klum’s Scare In Hawaii
Supermodel and supermom Heidi Klum doesn’t just pose in swimwear, she’s a strong swimmer too. Thank goodness for that, because the TV host and top model used her strong front stroke to save the lives of her children and two nannies while on vacation in Hawaii.
When a riptide caught Klum’s two nannies and son Henry and started carrying them out to sea, Heidi was quick to swim out and save the day. She first retrieved Henry and brought him to shore, then the two nannies. Everyone was visibly shaken after the incident, but rallied before the sun went down to enjoy the rest of their family beach day.
12. A Beautiful Day To Save Lives
As Patrick Dempsey’s character Dr. Derek Shepherd would say, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives.” That line definitely came into play when he rushed to the aid of a 17-year old boy who had suffered a terrible auto accident. After witnessing a car flip three times, Dempsey sprang into action.
Using a crowbar and fire extinguisher, Dempsey extracted the young man from the car’s clutches, just as he began losing consciousness. The actor then called paramedics and stayed until help arrived. Meanwhile, the Grey’s Anatomy lead was on the phone with the boy’s mother, assuring her everything would be alright. Turns out that even in real life, Dempsey really is “McDreamy.”
13. In the End She Was “Alright, Alright, Alright”
Long before Matthew McConaughey was the serious lead actor he is today (pre-“McConaissance” but post-Dazed and Confused), the young actor was in a drama film called Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, making its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. Mid-showing, a woman in the audience began to suffer a seizure.
While almost everyone in the theater was frozen in shock and uncertain as to what to do, McConaughey came right over. The actor began administering mouth-to-mouth to the woman, resuscitating her and according to police, he “ultimately saved her.” Ever humble, the Texan smooth-talker responded, “It was no big deal, she needed help and I was there.”
14. Andy Roddick Is An Ace In Rome
At the height of Andy Roddick’s career, the tennis champion was staying at a hotel in Rome, when a fire broke out in the building. Andy knew he had to act fast. Looking for a way out of the burning building, Roddick realized that he couldn’t just save himself. Seven people were trapped on the balcony above his.
Roddick instructed the seven frightened patrons to climb down onto his balcony one level below. He caught each guest as they jumped down, before ushering everyone through the billowing smoke and out to safety. Though his athletic health was his livelihood, he never once worried about personal injury to himself.
15. John Malkovich Keeps Everyone Calm
By merely taking a step outside of his Toronto hotel at the precisely right moment, actor John Malkovich was unknowingly placing himself in the right place to save the day. An Ohio man emerged not a minute later, tripped, and fell, hitting some sharp scaffolding on his way down.
The scaffolding caused a significant amount of bleeding from the man’s neck. Luckily, Malkovich knew exactly what to do, applying pressure to the wound to stem the bleeding. He held on for the full duration of the time it took the paramedics to arrive on the scene. Keeping both the man and his wife calm while they waited, the accomplished actor simply said, “My name is John and you are going to be alright.”
16. Hurricane Katrina’s Celebrity Savior
Known for his activism almost as much as his acting roles, Sean Penn keeps popping up throughout important moments in recent history. From a visit to Iraq at the start of the war, to his meeting with Mexican drug cartel kingpin El Chapo, he’s done it all — and he’s even climbed aboard a rescue boat in the aftermath of a major flood.
Hurricane Katrina absolutely decimated New Orleans, with countless people not only losing their homes, but in the immediate aftermath, stranded atop the roofs of houses with no safe way out of the disaster zone. Academy Award-winner Sean Penn rushed over by boat and helped ferry approximately 40 people to safety.
17. J. Law Leaps Into Action
Having recently taken on the role of Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen, Jennifer Lawrence must have still been running on the adrenaline rush of the action-packed movie, when she walked past a woman passed out on the grass and hastily went to save the day.
Trying to rouse the woman to no avail, J. Law called paramedics and waited by her side until she was assured the woman would be okay. Sure, we all like to imagine how much fun it would be to call Jennifer Lawrence our best friend, but how would you feel if this Oscar-winning actress saved your life — embarrassed or in awe?
18. No Mission Is Impossible For Tom Cruise
Mission: Impossible star Tom Cruise is the good celebrity Samaritan this world needs. He has saved so many people’s lives, it’s become hard to keep count. Somehow, it seems the star is always in the right place at the right time. Take, for example, the moment in 1996 when Cruise witnessed a hit and run.
A young woman was struck by a car before the driver sped away, but Cruise saw it all and sprung into superhero mode to save the day. Calling an ambulance, Cruise accompanied the victim to UCLA Medical Center, but his concern didn’t stop there. Upon finding out that the woman didn’t have medical insurance, Cruise covered the cost of her care, to the tune of $7,000.
19. Cuba Gooding Jr. Does A Good Deed
On a normal evening en route to pick up dinner for his family, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. was about to find himself in a harrowing scene. Driving through Hollywood, Gooding Jr. heard four gunshots nearby, before spotting a young kid holding his head and collapsing onto the pavement.
The actor cradled the boy’s body and called into the nearby restaurant he had been about to enter, asking for towels to apply pressure to the wound. Gooding Jr. then flagged down a passing police car, and waited with the young boy until an ambulance arrived, assuring him everything would be alright. His speedy response saved the boy’s life.
20. Tom Holland’s Real-Life Superhero Act
Tom Holland has proved to be a real life superhero both on-and-off-screen when he saved the day of a young female fan during a visit to New York City to promote his newest Marvel film, Spider-Man: Far from Home. Holland spotted his die hard fan being pushed around by a group of aggressive autograph hunters, and he immediately stepped into action.
A video captured the 23-year-old actor threatening to throw all the autograph seekers’ things on the floor if they didn’t stop pushing their way to the front of the crowd, and in turn pushing the young female fan against the barricade. When his commands fell on deaf ears, the spider man in him came out and he threw their posters and books to the ground. If this is anything to go by, like the film will be filled with many heroic surprises!
21. Brad Pitt Swoops In To Save A Life
Of all the zombie apocalypse movies to have come out, which of their stars would you trust to save you from an army of the undead? We would put our lives in the hands of Brad Pitt, who saved the day on screen in World War Z, but also saved the day for real for one fortunate extra.
While filming a particularly chaotic scene (the whole movie is chaotic if we’re honest), 700 extras were rushing forward. In the midst of the melee, one woman fell. She would have been trampled had Brad Pitt not scooped her up and got her back on her feet. In the end, the extra walked away with little more than a scraped knee.
22. A Real-Life Special Savior
How many people has Mark Harmon saved on the long-running series NCIS? With 16 seasons currently under his belt playing a naval special agent, Harmon actually already had experience as a hero. He saved a man’s life before even being cast as Special Agent Jethro Gibbs.
When a car crashed in front of Harmon’s home in California, the actor didn’t hesitate to hurry outside to help save the two boys trapped inside the fiery vehicle. Grabbing a sledgehammer, Harmon busted open the windows and pulled out the two boys. 17 Years later the survivors reunited with Harmon to thank him and say that they “owe everything to him.”
23. When Your Best Friend Always Has Your Back
Disclaimer: we do not recommend trying this yourselves, as you might not be as lucky. It was in 1989 when long-time friends and former roommates (in the ’60s – who knew?) Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas were filming the jungle adventure Romancing the Stone in Mexico. And according to DeVito, there were snakes everywhere.
When Michael Douglas was fearlessly playing with a snake that was slithering along his hand and arm, DeVito warned him to stop. But it was too late: the snake snapped and bit Douglas’ hand. DeVito acted fast, sucking the poison out and spitting it on the ground. Both stars are fortunate that they weren’t fatally poisoned – who knows what kind of snake that was!
24. Jamie Foxx Isn’t Afraid of A Fiery Wreck
Eternally cool Jamie Foxx was probably chilling in his home one afternoon, when he heard a loud crash close by. Before even getting to survey the scene, Foxx had already dialed 9-1-1. Rushing out, Foxx saw a truck had clearly rolled over multiple times and into a ditch, trapping the driver inside.
With the help of an off-duty EMT who had witnessed the accident as well, the pair used large scissors that the EMT had on hand to break through the car window, cut the man free from his seatbelt, and pull him out to safety — mere moments before the truck went up in flames.
25. Prince Harry Prevents A Polo Panic
A prince among men, literally, Prince Harry came to the rescue of American businessman Bash Kazi, possibly saving his life. It was during a polo match that Kazi was thrown from his horse, hitting the ground with such force that he was knocked unconscious. Prince Harry leapt into action.
Hopping off his horse before any of the other players had even noticed something was wrong, Prince Harry ran to Kazi’s body and turned him on his side into the recovery position, having learned first-aid from his time in the British Army. When Kazi was roused once more, Prince Harry heroically helped him to his feet and to medical attention.
26. No One Is Tougher Than Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy does not act at being tough — he really is someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. When the Mad Max and The Dark Knight Rises star saw two teens stealing a motorcycle, he shot off in hot pursuit of the perpetrators. The teens took off, running a red light and crashing into a car.
The two teen thieves attempted to run away on foot, but Tom Hardy had the situation handled. Hardy’s cinematic style chase included vaulting over garden walls and cutting through backyards, until he caught the two delinquents, holding onto them until the police could come to collect them. Tom Hardy really is a real-life master at springing to action.
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