25 Funny Pranks from the Sets of Your Favorite Movies
Starring: George Clooney, George Clooney, and George Clooney.
Regardless of a person’s status—celebrity or otherwise—a great joke is a great joke. Nothing more, nothing less. While we’re well-versed on the myriad of ways celebrities are nothing like us, at the end of the day, our favorite movie stars, like us, still find comfort in the little things—or in this case, big laughter at the expense of others.
Similar to our attempts at uniting the office with a few groan-worthy dad jokes, these celebrities have turned their own “office” upside down with laughter with these hilarious and witty pranks. So, without further ado, these are the best pranks from the sets of your favorite movies—don’t try these at home, kids. And for more incredible insights into your favorite films, check out these 30 Shocking Facts about Your Favorite Movies.
Tom Hanks coordinated a flash-knit. (Larry Crowne)
After taking notice of Julia Roberts’ knitting obsession during the filming of 2011’s Larry Crowne—in which he directed and she starred in—Tom Hanks had every single person from the cast and crew pretend to be intently knitting when she walked on to the set one morning. According to Roberts, she started doling out knitting advice enthusiastically, assuming that she had just turned everyone on to the great art of knitting. It took her a moment to realize that most people were not proficient at the obvious prank they were playing on her. And for more hilarity in films (this time, on purpose), check out The 30 Funniest Movies of All Time.
Benedict Cumberbatch got lathered up by Chris Pine. (Star Trek: Into Darkness)
While filming Star Trek: Into the Darkness, Benedict Cumberbatch revealed his gullibility with a hilarious prank staged by director J.J. Abrams and cast member Chris Pine. During one of the scenes filmed in a high-tech laboratory, Abrams and Pine told Cumberbatch that he needed to wear protective “neuron cream.” After realizing that the cream was just a hoax, Cumberbatch admitted to his gullibility—but only when it came to tricks stateside. “I was gullible and did what I was told; it’s America and there is a lot of health and safety,” Cumberbatch said.
George Clooney tailored Matt Damon’s pants. (Monuments Men)
There’s a reason why George Clooney is widely regarded as the best on-set prankster of history. Case in point: After Clooney heard that Matt Damon, his Monuments Men cast-mate, was attempting to lose weight during the filming of the movie, he arranged to have Damon’s pants taken in an eighth of an inch every few days, forcing the actor to puzzle over how his strict diet was still causing him to gain weight.
During an appearance on the Graham Norton Show, Clooney reflected on the experience, “He was then just eating a grape and saying, ‘I don’t understand why I’m getting fatter.’ I did that for about three weeks.” And for more shocking facts about our favorite celebrities, check out these 30 Celebrities With Amazing Hidden Talents.
Jason Sudeikis messed with the radio. (The Millers)
During one of the key comedy scenes of 2013’s The Millers, starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, the group sings along to “Waterfalls” by TLC. And, as it turns out, this is also the scene that inspired Sudeikis and director Rawson Marshall Thurber to introduce a different song in the next take—one that would be eerily familiar to Aniston. In this particular take (which also appears in the closing credits of the film), instead of the TLC singalong, the group serenades Aniston to The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You”—otherwise known as the Friends theme song.
Barbra Streisand whipped Harrison Ford. (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)
For years, this practical joke crafted by Barbra Streisand, Carrie Fisher, and The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner was merely an urban legend. However, myth soon turned to epic prank when the video evidence, showing the three characters turning up unexpectedly on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, surfaced online in 2011.
Streisand, dressed as a dominatrix, interrupts a scene in which Harrison Ford is chained to a wall and held as prisoner by the Thuggee. And, while Carrie Fisher and Irvin Kershner do make small appearances in the elaborate on-set prank, it was Streisand who landed the best line, uttering “for all the money you’re going to make on Return of the Jedi” between playful whips. And for more on your favorite celebrities before they found fame and fortune, check out these 30 Awful Jobs Celebrities Had Before They Became Famous.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Johnny Depp made Penelope Cruz wear a crazy outfit. (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
Close friends Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz always have fun on set with one another—and this prank showcases the relationship between the pair. Since they both shared a love for South Park, Depp made Cruz wear a fancy dress outfit based on the show’s Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo after losing a bet, inciting laughter from everyone on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. “He was on the floor laughing and crying and he took a thousand pictures of me which I hope never come to light. But, of course, now that I’ve said it, I’m sure they will appear somewhere,” Cruz said.
Woody Harrelson pointed a gun at Sean Penn. (The Thin Red Line)
According to Entertainment Weekly, though The Thin Red Line wasn’t exactly full of cheerful material, there were plenty of laughs to be had when the cameras stopped rolling. Cast-mates Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte, and Sean Penn continually attempted to out-prank each other, the result culminating in an unsavory experience for Sean Penn in a jail cell, staged by Woody Harrelson and Nick Nolte, with the former marching up to Penn with a gun, scaring the actor out of pranking for the rest of filming.
Paul Newman dressed up a dummy. (Exodus)
Before Clooney was creating some of the best on-set pranks around, actor Paul Newman held the crown by terrorizing his directors with hilarious and outrageous stunts. Among his best: this one involving director Otto Preminger and test dummy. According to Deadline, after Preminger scolded the actor for attempting to alter his script, Newman lashed out in the most innocent way: by dressing up a dummy to look like him and throwing it off of a high balcony where he was filming a fight scene. Before anyone else could react appropriately, Preminger collapsed in terror, causing him to require medical attention.
Josh Hutcherson gave a weird gift to Sam Claflin. (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
Another infamous on-set prankster, Josh Hutcherson, continually pushed the limits of his costars on The Hunger Games. One of the many that stood out is this one, involving his fellow costar, Sam Claflin, and a bottle of what has been referred to as “skunk poop.” According to the actors, Hutcherson covered the mysterious solid with toilet paper and hid it in the trash can in his trailer, causing Claflin to accuse others of going into his bathroom to do their business.
Alan Rickman put a fart machine in Daniel Radcliffe’s sleeping bag. (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
During one of the tensest scenes in the third installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Alan Rickman, who portrays Severus Snape throughout the films, saw an opportunity to lighten the mood on set. During this part of the film, the students were ordered to sleep outside in The Great Hall after Sirius Black had escaped from Azkaban, and to capture the drama, cameras slowly zoomed in on Daniel Radcliffe awake in his sleeping bag. In this particular take, Rickman had inserted a, shall we say, special machine that imitated the more foul noises that come from humans. As the cameras zoomed in on Radcliffe, a symphony of farts erupted through the hall, sending the entire cast into fits of laughter.
Brad Pitt tricked out Jonah Hill’s golf cart. (Moneyball)
After working with Brad Pitt on Moneyball, castmate Jonah Hill had plenty of reverence for the actor—even praising his knack for curating the most amazing pranks. And he should know all about this talent, as one of Pitt’s most infamous pranks was aimed at Hill and his golf cart. According to Hill, he came on to the set of Moneyball one day to find that Pitt had turned his golf cart into a proclamation of his love for Wham!, covering the cart with pink shrink wrap, a sign that says “I’m Jonah Hill and I Love Wham!,” and a picture of Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael with Hill’s and Pitt’s faces photoshopped onto them. The best part, though? Whenever Hill turned on his golf cart, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” would begin playing at maximum volume.
Jennifer Lawrence found her own tombstone. (American Hustle)
After admitting to her costars Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper that she was not exactly fond of shooting in a cemetery, the actors were able to convince the prop guys on set to carve out a tombstone that read: “Jennifer Lawrence, born August 15, 1890. Died April 1, 1913.” Of course, Lawrence was understandably perturbed until the actors pointed out the date of her death—April Fools Day.
Paul Newman staged a fake car crash. (Slap Shot)
When director George Roy Hill refused to buy a round of drinks for the stars of Slap Shot, Newman retaliated in his own trickster way by staging a fake car crash with himself behind the wheel. Similar to the prank staged at the expense of director Otto Preminger, Hill found the entire ordeal more terrifying than laughter-inducing.
Jeffrey Wright gave Jennifer Lawrence crickets. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1)
According to Lawrence, after filming a series of movies with the same cast and crew, things on set tend to get a little crazy. “We all mess with each other to make sure all of us have a conflicted experience,” she said. So, when Jeffrey Wright presented Lawrence with a Tiffany’s box, she should have questioned the random gift, but instead soon found herself in a testy predicament, as the box contained crickets that were soon unleashed in her trailer.
Jonah Hill force-fed sushi to Leo DiCaprio. (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Though he wasn’t seeking revenge on prankster pal Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill was finally able to create his own elaborate prank on Leonardo DiCaprio during the filming of The Wolf of Wall Street. After months of filming fight scenes with Leo, the actor finally found a way to get back at him—through a simple change in the script. “In one of the most emotional scenes in the movie, we’re eating sushi and in the script, he’s supposed to say, ‘Do you want that last piece?’…and I say, ‘Yes,’ and I eat it. When we did the first take, he says, ‘Do you want that last piece?’ and I go, ‘No, you have it,'” says Hill. Unfortunately for Leo, the resulting takes of this scene forced him to eat an obscene amount of sushi, causing him to throw up into the nearest trash can.
Josh Hutcherson put a dummy in Jennifer Lawrence’s bathroom. (The Hunger Games)
For a 19-year-old prank newbie, this bit, intended to scare his costar, Jennifer Lawrence, still reigns as one of the best moments on-set for the cast. As Hutcherson told Vulture, “I took a dummy, one that the tracker-jackers were supposed to have attacked, and I put it in Jennifer’s bathroom. When she opened the door, she peed her pants. Or so I was told—she told me later. I did not get visual confirmation on that one.”
George Clooney stuffed a surprise into Julia Roberts’ luggage. (Ocean’s Eleven)
Unfortunately for Julia Roberts, she became the subject of a prank after accidentally getting caught in between George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s infamous hijinks on the set of Ocean’s Eleven. Before the prank wars, Roberts felt as though, because of her pregnant condition, that she was missing out on all of the fun on set. This was reversed when production moved to Rome. Upon opening her suitcase, she found a giant bronze statue—a clear sign of a George Clooney prank—and thusly was initiated into the prank gang for good.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd were forced to cuddle for warmth. (Lord of the Rings)
Lord of the Rings fans: you’ll be delighted to find out that this adorably funny pair is equally funny in real life—or really, forced into hilarious situations by their equally hysterical castmates. Speaking with TV Guide, Billy Boyd, who plays Peregrin “Pippin” Took in the series, notes that one morning, the pair arrived on set to find a newly revised skit, depicting a scene in which the pair loses all of their clothing and are forced to cuddle together for warmth. “The whole time, we were going back and forth from ‘This could be really good and really funny,’ to ‘…How can we do a naked scene in Lord of the Rings? Can this be real?'” says Boyd.
Brad Pitt forces the entire set to shun George Clooney. (Ocean’s Twelve)
Yep—the boys are back at it again. For this particular prank, Brad Pitt got the entire crew to only communicate with George Clooney using only his character’s name, Danny Ocean—and, in doing so, they ended up shunning Clooney. As you can imagine, he had a very confusing couple of hours on set that day.
Bert Lahr put stickers on the Tin Man’s costume. (The Wizard of Oz)
Before the world even knew what an on-set prank was, Bert Lahr, otherwise known as the Cowardly Lion on The Wizard of Oz, made his co-stars crack up with this prank, aimed towards Jack Haley, or the Tin Man. As it happens, in retaliation for an earlier prank, in which Haley persuaded the hairdresser to “administer the actor a small shock while styling the mane on his lion’s costume,” Lahr arranged it so that, while Haley was sleeping, large tomato can stickers were pasted all over his Tin Man costume.
Mel Gibson put a rat in Julia Roberts’ dressing room. (Conspiracy Theory)
As you may notice from this rather creepy prank, Mel Gibson has always harbored an affinity for the strange. On the first day of shooting for the film Conspiracy Theory, Gibson planted a freeze-dried rat in Julia Roberts’ dressing room as, purportedly, a warm and friendly welcome gesture. Based upon this story, we’re worried that Gibson has misunderstood what a warm and friendly welcome gesture truly is.
George Clooney wet Ryan Gosling’s pants. (The Ides of March)
During the filming of The Ides of March, George Clooney stuck to small acts of playful sabotage. Ryan Gosling told Extra, “He will come up to you and tell you something very serious…and then he’ll walk away and you realize your pants are wet. He’s had like an Evian spray bottle. He’s been spraying your crotch the whole time.”
Spike Jonze’s Vespa was hung from the rafter. (Where the Wild Things Are)
Even during a feel-good movie like Where the Wild Things Are, humor is still the best way to unite a cast and make for an easygoing attitude on set. The director of the film, Spike Jonze, found this out when, during a particularly serious part of the filming, he looked up to see his prized Vespa hanging from the rafters, as a part of a prank devised by the entire crew.
Mel Gibson scared Jamie Lee Curtis. (Forever Young)
Jamie Lee Curtis made an unforgettable impression during her film debut in Halloween. Or, at least it was unforgettable to Mel Gibson. When the two were filming together during Forever Young, the actor showed up at Curtis’ trailer wearing a hockey mask—the same legendarily terrifying outfit that Jason Voorhees, Halloween‘s villain, wore.
Michael Madsen pulled his pants down to scare Alec Baldwin. (The Getaway)
During a particularly tough scene that Alec Baldwin was having a hard time nailing down, one of his co-stars, Michael Madsen, took on the responsibility of helping Baldwin achieve more authentic reactions—by pulling down his pants and hanging out in his boxers. As it happens, the shocked look on Baldwin’s face was exactly what the scene called for and it made it to the final cut. And for more ways to make your own office jokes, check out these 30 Office-Friendly Jokes That Are Actually Funny.
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