Idris Elba Thought He Actually Got Shot By Denzel Washington While Filming "American Gangster"

Idris Elba had an eerie moment on the set of American Gangster.
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While working on the 2007 film, Idris had to shoot a scene in which he was shot in the head by Denzel Washington's character Frank.
Universal / © Universal / courtesy Everett Collection
Although Denzel used an empty gun with a tightly filled barrel, the recoil was enough to make Idris believe he had really been shot.
Gregg Deguire / WireImage
"[Frank] is walking down the street and Idris Elba is standing there and says, 'Hey, what are you going to do, shoot me Frank? Go on, Frank, shoot me in front of all these people.' And he just boom and shoot him on the spot, "director Ridley Scott told the Daily Mail of the scene.
Netflix / Universal Pictures / Via
Ridley stated that before filming he had asked Idris to lean his head into the empty gun to create realism - but Idris didn't know the recoil would really shock him.
Netflix / Universal Pictures / Via
"What happened was that I said to Idris, 'Listen, if he puts the gun to your head, lean on the gun.' Because this is a solid barrel gun by the way; there is no opening. I would never risk it. But when you pull the trigger there is a recoil. There is no void, nothing. So I said, 'I want you yourself to lean on the gun, "explained Ridley.
Netflix / Universal Pictures / Via
He continued, "He pulled the trigger and it popped. Idris thought he was shot and fell on the sidewalk and said, 'I was shot!'"
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While Idris must have had some scary moments, guns expert Paul Biddiss, who works with Ridley, reiterated that the actor was never in danger and explained how it worked.
Universal / © Universal / courtesy Everett Collection
"He's very concerned about safety. What he meant by a solid barrel is a completely filled barrel that no bullet could go through. Paul shared.
Universal / © Universal / courtesy Everett Collection
He added, “He was still able to create a recoil effect for the purposes of the film by using something that is used as a UTM projectile in films that can be inserted into a weapon with the barrel completely filled is, and it still causes a recoil is like a little silver casing with compressed air that reacts. It can be used over and over to create a recoil effect every time. "
Universal / © Universal / courtesy Everett Collection
While Idris was never in danger, it definitely sounds like a scary situation to him!
In this article:
Idris Elba
Denzel Washington
US-American actor

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