As the old adage goes, “every scar has a story.” And sometimes those painful scars even launch successful acting careers which, in turn, lead to big, fat paychecks! Cha-ching!
While it is true that scars are only superficial and do not make the man (or woman), but rather only tell a story about the trials and tribulations one has had to face in life, they can definitely come in handy on the big screen — especially when trying to portray certain characters. Just ask the many actors and on-set makeup artists who learned that lesson the hard way while spending countless hours in the makeup chair.
But who are the actors who have benefited from their famous scars and how did they acquire them? J.R. Martinez (pictured above), for example, acquired his scars while serving in the military. Deployed in Iraq in 2003, the former All My Children actor’s Humvee hit a landmine and he suffered severe burns over 30 percent of his body while trapped inside the vehicle (per Fox News). Although he thought his life was over, the former U.S. Army infantryman survived and now serves as an inspiration for veterans and burn victims alike, wearing his scars proudly in everything he does.
Keep reading after the jump to learn about which actors took the scars they earned during their lifetime and found a way to put them to work — literally.
Joaquin Phoenix is tight-lipped about his scars
Award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix is best known for his legendary work in successful films including Joker, Walk the Line, and 8MM. And there is no mistaking his handsome signature look that just so happens to include a prominent scar on his upper lip. Phoenix, however, has remained pretty tight-lipped about the scar and has left others to theorize about its source, including the possibility that it might be a microform cleft, the mildest form of cleft lip. Others simply chalked it up to a birth mark.
But it is possible that the mysterious scar actually gave Phoenix even more of an edge while taking on various roles. Take for instance Pheonix’s role in The Master, where he portrays a tough World War II veteran tasked with adjusting to a post-war era (via Looper). Along with his incredible acting skills, the scar only further convinced viewers of his character’s previous days in combat.
Michael K. Williams credits his scar for acting roles
Actor Michael K. Williams is sure that his facial scar gave him a leg up and admitted that he saw a surge in his acting career after being involved in a bar brawl that left him with a permanent scar across his face. During an interview with the NPR series, “My Big Break,” the actor confessed that he and a group of friends “barely escaped with their lives,” but he did manage to take home a nasty gash from a razor blade. YIKES.
However, Williams prefers to look on the bright side following the traumatic event. “Things changed immediately after that. Directors didn’t want me just to dance in the videos any more. They wanted me to act out these thug roles, you know, like — Mike, roll these — roll these dice in this video. Have this fight in this video. I was like, all right,” the actor revealed.
Williams and his newfound scar went on to catch the eye of many casting directors and rapper Tupac Shakur, landing him a role in Shakur’s film, The Bullet. “He happened to see a Polaroid picture of me and was like, yo, this dude looks thugged out enough that he could play my little brother,” Williams explained. “I think he saw my pain and my struggle, my heart. I was just like — I was star struck, you know. I was like, wow, that’s Tupac Shakur,” he gushed.
Adrian Pasdar's scars turned him on to acting
Top Gun star Adrian Pasdar also has his scars to thank for his acting career. As the story goes, Pasdar was involved in a tragic car crash that nearly resulted in his death, as reported by the Lexington Herald Leader. Miraculously, however, Pasdar’s life was spared and the college student was left with nothing more than permanent scarring on his lower face instead. Unfortunately, the football player was no longer able to play the game as a result of his injuries and immediately lost his hard-earned scholarship, aka his ticket to college.
But, instead of wallowing in his unfortunate circumstances, Pasdar opted to turn life’s lemons into lemonade! Pasdar dropped out of college and promptly took a job with a theater group. The hopeful actor went on to land an audition for the movie Top Gun and the director took so much of a liking to him that he created a role for Pasdar, casting him as Chipper. While the role was minor in comparison to that of Tom Cruise’s character, it did prove to be a major stepping stone for Pasdar’s acting career. Bravo!
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