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Meryl Streep almost died doing her own stunt on this thriller movie

Meryl Streep doesn't often do her own stuntwork, probably because she nearly suffered a dark fate while making this '90s movie, teaching the director a lesson.

Meryl Streep in The River Wild

You wouldn’t generally think of Meryl Streep as an action star, but she’s had her scrapes. In fact, during one particular production, Meryl Streep very nearly met her end, creating a Hollywood legend around one of the best ’90s movies.

While making The River Wild, an adventure movie about a family rafting holiday that goes totally off course, Streep decided to do some of her own stunts, and during an exhausting day, relented to director Curtis Hanson about doing one more take on something that seemed relatively easy on the thriller movie.

“The boat surfed down into the hole, rose, and flipped over,” Streep told the Orlando Sentinel at the time. “And I went into the river. I remember sinking down to the bottom with this powerful and freezing water pulling me in deeper.”

Streep properly felt like death was close by. “My first thought was that if I died my husband would come to the set with a machete,” she states. “Actually, I was really very quiet and not scared, which is not at all how I thought I’d react under these circumstances.”

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These kind of experiences can certainly be illuminating. Once Streep was rescued, she decided to make one thing very clear. “When I got to the shore my legs actually went out from under me,” she recalled, “but I still managed to get to Curtis. My heart was just pounding and I tried to be calm when I said, ‘I really feel quite sure if I say that I’m too tired to do something that we have to assume I’m telling the truth’.”

Curtis agreed, and the family movie was completed without incident for the remaining shoot time. Kevin Bacon, John C. Reilly, and David Strathairn joined Streep on the excursion. The River Wild didn’t top any lists of the best movies, but with that cast, there’s easily enough charm and on-location antics to make it a thrilling watch.