35 times celebrities became real-life heroes and saved people's lives

35 times celebrities became real-life heroes and saved people's lives
Sean Penn in Kyiv
Actor and director Sean Penn attends a press briefing at the Presidential Office in Kyiv, Ukraine.Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters
  • Action stars like Tom Cruise, Tom Hardy, and Harrison Ford have stepped in during real-life crises.

  • Dolly Parton once saved her 9-year-old co-star's life on set.

  • Sean Penn aided rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Dev Patel witnessed a knife fight between two people in Australia and tried to de-escalate the situation, according to reports.

Dev Patel
Dev Patel.Vianney Le Caer/Invision/Associated Press

Actor Dev Patel tried to break up a fight in Australia that escalated into a stabbing on Monday night, Insider's Katie Anthony and Libby Torres reported.

Patel's representatives told 7News the "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Green Knight" actor witnessed a fight between a man and a woman in Adelaide, Australia, and tried to intervene.

"Dev acted on his natural instinct to try and de-escalate the situation and break up the fight," a spokesperson told 7News. The spokesperson said there were "no heroes" in the situation.

Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly helped save a man who had been treading water for 11 hours after falling off a cruise ship.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio.AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

While on near St. Barts with girlfriend Camila Morrone and friends on New Year's Eve 2019, the captain of DiCaprio's boat received a message that a man had fallen overboard in the area.

"Leo and his friends and their boat captain decided to join the search and their efforts resulted in helping save a man's life," a source told People in January 2020.

According to The Sun, DiCaprio's crew spotted the man near the island of Saba and brought him on board before handing him off to the Coast Guard.

Dolly Parton pulled her 9-year-old costar out of the path of an oncoming vehicle on set.

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton.David Crotty/Contributor/Getty Images

Actress Talia Hill told Inside Edition in December 2020 that Parton pulled her out of harm's way on the set of Netflix's "Christmas on the Square."

"She hugged me and shook me and said, 'I saved your life!' And my mom was crying, and she said, 'Yes, you did, Dolly Parton. Yes, you did,'" Hill said.

Parton is no stranger to heroism: In 2020, the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund also donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University's coronavirus research, which helped create the Moderna vaccine that's said to be 94.5% effective — potentially saving many more lives.

Sean Penn aided rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Sean Penn paddles a boat down a flooded street as part of rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Sean Penn paddles a boat in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Sean Penn has a history of showing up in disaster zones. In 2005, he rescued stranded people in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, paddling his boat by hand when the motor broke. He also traveled to Haiti to aid the humanitarian efforts after the 2010 earthquake. And he was recently spotted at a press briefing at the Presidential Office in Kyiv, Ukraine, as Russian forces invaded the country.

The New York Post reported that Penn is working on a documentary about tensions in Ukraine and went to the country this week to get a firsthand look at the Russian invasion.

While shooting a scene for the 1988 film "Cocktail," Tom Cruise saved his costar Elisabeth Shue's life by stopping her from walking into spinning helicopter blades.

Tom Cruise hangs on to the side of a helicopter in "Mission Impossible: Fallout."
Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible: Fallout."Paramount Pictures

In a private Facebook group dedicated to stories from film and TV sets called Crew Stories, camera operator Bill Bennett shared in 2021 that Shue began walking towards moving helicopter blades on set, which appear invisible as they spin but "will kill you instantly."

"Tom is a pilot, rated in both airplanes and helicopters, and instantly saw the danger. He lunged after her, but only was able to grab her legs, tackling her to the ground," Bennett wrote. "He rolled her over, dragging her at the same time, and you could see the momentary anger on her face while she was yelling 'Why did you do that?'"

Bennett continued: "But by that time he is pointing at the tail rotor which is now a couple feet away, screaming at her that she almost died. At that point, she turned white, and he pulled her back towards the front of the helicopter and they walked away. All of us in the helicopter were quite shaken up by the close call, but there was nothing to be said. Tom had, in that instant, truly saved her life."

Cruise became a hero again in 1996 when he helped the victim of a hit-and-run.

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise.Getty/Kevin Winter

When aspiring actress Heloisa Vinhas was struck by a car in a hit-and-run in 1996 in Santa Monica, California, Tom Cruise happened to be passing by and swooped in to help. He called 911, waited with her until the paramedics arrived, and when he found out she was uninsured, paid her $7,000 medical bill.

Cruise's spokesperson also told Entertainment Weekly that the "Mission: Impossible" actor followed up with Vinhas after her release "just to check in on how she was doing."

Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and his wife reportedly stopped an intruder from kidnapping their 9-month-old grandchild.

Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana
Joe Montana.Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Joe Montana's grandchild was napping in his home in Malibu, California, on September 26, 2020, when a woman entered the house, picked up the child, and refused to give the child back, NPR reported.

Montana's wife, Jennifer, managed to pull the child out of the intruder's arms. Montana made contact with local authorities on patrol in the neighborhood, who arrested the woman and charged her with kidnapping and burglary.

"Thank you to everyone who has reached out," Montana wrote on Twitter on September 27. "Scary situation, but thankful that everybody is doing well. We appreciate respect for our privacy at this time."

A woman shared a video of "Bachelorette" star Hannah Brown helping her boyfriend after their boat flipped over while whitewater rafting.

"Bachelorette" star Hannah Brown
Hannah Brown.Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Twitter user @quintnugget wrote that Hannah Brown saved her boyfriend from drowning when their raft flipped over on the Ocoee River in Tennessee in June 2020. She later clarified that he wasn't actually drowning, but that the current was pulling him downstream before Brown and her family helped him into her raft. She also shared video of the encounter on Instagram.

Brown's brother, Patrick, posted a photo on Instagram where he referenced their heroic actions.

"Took on the rapids with the fam jam!" he wrote. "I got to relive my lifeguard days and Hannah thinks she's apart of the Coast Guard now...#rescuemission."

Melissa Errico helped rescue a man who had fallen onto the subway tracks in New York City.

Melissa Errico, Broadway actress and star of "Billions"
Melissa Errico.Walter McBride/Getty Images

A Broadway actress and star of "Billions," Errico was on her way back from meeting with her vocal coach when she heard cries for help from the subway.

"I literally hopped into action," she told People magazine in 2019. "I came running over. I was like, 'You can't lift him? We got this.'"

Together, the actress and two other good Samaritans successfully pulled the man, who had a broken foot and cuts all over his arms, out of the tracks.

"I'm a mom," Errico said. "Who better to save a life than a mom? I had the energy and jumped in to help this guy. I completed the chain. People do bigger things than that every day."

Danny Trejo is known for playing villains, but he became a hero offscreen when he saved a baby from an overturned car.

Danny Trejo smiles
Danny Trejo.Getty Images

Danny Trejo was driving in Sylmar, California, in August 2019 when he witnessed a collision that caused one of the cars to roll upside down, CNN reported. He pulled over to help and was able to safely remove a baby from the vehicle who was still strapped into a car seat.

"Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else. Everything," he told KABC at the scene.

Idris Elba reportedly assisted an audience member having a seizure during a performance of his play "Tree."

Idris Elba at an event
Idris Elba.Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

The Mirror reported in 2019 that a 33-year-old woman had a seizure during a performance of "Tree," a play created by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, at Upper Campfield Market Hall in Manchester. The woman said she came to and found Elba checking on her. He then accompanied her to an ambulance.

"I would love to thank him personally, but doubt I will cross paths with him, he's very famous," the woman told The Mirror.

A fan said Tom Holland rescued her from being crushed by a crowd seeking his autograph.

Tom Holland at the premiere of Infinity War
Tom Holland.Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Twitter user @NamelessCass said in June 2019 that she was being crushed against a barricade by people seeking Tom Holland's autograph in New York City, her neck pressed into the metal bar, when the star stepped in.

"I'm literally going to throw your s*** on the floor if you keep pushing that girl," he told the crowd. "You're literally crushing her."

When she said she was going to have a panic attack, Holland said, "I've got you. I've got you," and asked the people pushing her to back up.

"Boy Meets World" star William Daniels scared a burglar away.

"Boy Meets World" star William Daniels
William Daniels.Bonnie Schiffman/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

William Daniels, who played Mr. George Feeny on "Boy Meets World," foiled an attempted burglary at his San Fernando Valley home in October 2018.

When someone tried to force open a back door, Daniels turned on the lights in order to scare the intruder away. The 91-year-old actor and his 89-year-old wife, Bonnie Bartlett, remained safe and sound.

"Luckily, Mr. Daniels was able to frighten away the person and the LAPD quickly responded," his publicist told ABC7 in a statement. "They are both well. Mr. Daniels thanks all his fans for their concern."

Michael Rapaport stopped a man from opening the emergency door on a flight.

Actor Michael Rapaport
Michael Rapaport.Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Netflix

Actor Michael Rapaport was on a flight from Houston to Los Angeles in June 2018 when he saw a man with both hands on the lever of the emergency exit door, trying to open it.

The flight attendants were gathered at the back of the plane, so Rapaport ran to the man and pinned him against a seat. When interviewed by authorities, the man said he thought it was the bathroom door, according to Fox News.

The other passengers dubbed Rapaport a hero.

"Everyone thanked me and everyone did say I was brave and heroic. I consider myself a common man who does uncommon things," he said on the most recent episode of his podcast, "I Am Rapaport." "I'm not gonna confirm or deny this, but they're talking statues."

Benedict Cumberbatch saved a Deliveroo cyclist from four muggers.

"Dr. Strange" and "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch.Getty Images

In 2018, "Dr. Strange" and "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch jumped out of his Uber to help a delivery person who was being assaulted by four men in London, according to The Sun.

The four muggers reportedly punched the Deliveroo worker and hit him over the head with a bottle. Cumberbatch jumped into the fight and dodged punches as he yelled, "Leave him alone." The Uber driver also helped pull the attackers off the man, and they eventually fled.

A spokesperson for Deliveroo said, "We'd like to thank Benedict Cumberbatch for his heroic actions. On behalf of everyone at Deliveroo: thank you so much."

Cumberbatch confirmed that he had been involved, but maintained that he's no hero.

"I did it out of, well, I had to, you know," he said.

Dr. Mehmet Oz pulled over to help high school students whose bus caught fire.

Dr. Mehmet Oz smiles at an event
Dr. Oz.Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Fox 5 News reported in April 2018 that a group of students from Northwestern High School in Prince George County, Maryland, were traveling along the New Jersey Turnpike when the wheel of their bus caught fire, setting the whole vehicle ablaze. Dr. Oz posted a video to his Facebook page of him pulling over on the side of the road and speaking to the bus driver, making sure that everyone was OK.

"I'm just so thankful everyone made it out safe and sound," Oz wrote.

John Malkovich stopped a man from bleeding out.

Actor John Malkovich wearing a suit and tie and smiling
John Malkovich.Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Jim and Marilyn Walpole were visiting Toronto on a weekend bus tour for seniors in 2013 when Jim stumbled and fell into scaffolding, slitting his throat. John Malkovich rushed over and pressed his neck wound to stop the copious amount of bleeding.

When paramedics arrived and Walpole asked what his savior's name was, The Toronto Sun reports that he merely said, "My name is John and you're going to be alright." Walpole only later figured out that it was the famous actor.

"John Malkovich saved my life," Walpole told The Sun.

Tom Hardy nabbed a runaway thief.

Tom Hardy at an event
Tom Hardy.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The Sun reported in 2017 that Tom Hardy chased after two thieves who stole a moped and crashed it into a car. One of the thieves remained at the scene, but the other fled. Hardy ran after him, dragged him into a bus stop, and patted him down to make sure he didn't have any weapons before handing him over to the police.

""It was mental – like he'd switched to superhero mode in an action movie," a witness told The Sun.

Kate Winslet helped save Richard Branson's mother from a fire.

Actress Kate Winslet at an event
Kate Winslet.John Phillips/Getty Images

Lightning struck Richard Branson's $70 million home in the Caribbean in 2011, setting it ablaze, according to People. Kate Winslet and her family were staying there along with Branson and his family, totaling 20 people. All escaped the fire unharmed — including Branson's mother, with Winslet's help.

"Many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping to carry my 90-year mum out of the main house to safety," Branson wrote on a now-defunct blog.

Ryan Gosling stopped a woman from walking into oncoming traffic.

Ryan Gosling on a red carpet
Ryan Gosling.Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Journalist and author Laurie Penny tweeted in 2012 that she "literally, LITERALLY just got saved from a car by Ryan Gosling. Literally. That actually just happened." As a Brit in the US, she forgot to look the right way for oncoming traffic, and Gosling stopped her from getting run over.

The reaction to her tweet was so overwhelming that she responded with an article for Gawker called "Ryan Gosling Saved Me From a Speeding Car But There's War In the Middle East So Everyone Calm Down" where she wrote that Americans "hyperventilate about the most everyday happenings as if they are the most important thing in the world" while failing to pay attention to pressing political and global issues.

John Krasinski saved a woman from drowning in Costa Rica.

John Krasinski smiles during an interview
John Krasinski.Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

John Krasinski spent a few months teaching English in Costa Rica after high school. On a visit to Manuel Antonio beach, a woman got swept out by a riptide, and Krasinski told Playboy that he saved her life.

"In that moment, I didn't ask anyone," he told the magazine. "There was no one to help me. I just went out and tried to save her. And then of course when I got out there, I was in a crosscurrent with her. It was one of those moments of 'Oh my God, you just made a poor choice and it might cost you your life.' ... But I got her back. When I got within 20 yards or so of the shore, some surfers came out. Granted, not everybody needs to have life-or-death experiences, but that changed my entire life. All of a sudden I grew up."

Harrison Ford has volunteered as a search-and-rescue pilot, and he has saved quite a few people that way.

Harrison Ford in his helicopter.
Harrison Ford in his helicopter.Getty Images

Harrison Ford is a licensed pilot and has helped stranded hikers on several occasions with his personal helicopter. He located and rescued 13-year-old Boy Scout Cody Clawson after he became separated from his troop in Yellowstone National Park, and saved two hikers who suffered from altitude sickness at the top of Table Mountain in Wyoming.

He's also a good Samaritan on the ground. When a woman lost control of her car and drove off the side of the road on California's State Route 126, Ford pulled over, helped her out of the car, and waited with her until the paramedics arrived.

Jennifer Lawrence helped a woman who passed out on her front lawn.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence at the BAFTAs
Jennifer Lawrence.Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

When a young woman collapsed on the lawn outside Jennifer Lawrence's apartment building in 2012, the actress stayed with her until paramedics arrived, according to the LA Times.

"When the EMT arrived, she stayed to make sure everything was OK," said an X17 photographer who witnessed the scene. "She was really scared for the girl."

The woman's state appeared to be alcohol-related, and she was treated and taken home by a friend.

Jamie Foxx pulled a man out of a burning car.

Jamie Foxx at the Golden Globes wearing a black tuxedo
Jamie Foxx.Getty images

Jamie Foxx was driving through Moorpark, California, in 2016 when Brett Kyle veered off the road into a ditch, causing his car to roll over several times. According to ABC News, the car then caught fire while Kyle was still inside.

Foxx, along with an off-duty EMT, cut him out of his seat belt and removed him from the seat. Firefighters who arrived shortly afterwards said that the car was completely engulfed in flames. Kyle went to the hospital for burns and head, neck, chest, and waist trauma, but survived the crash.

"I'm not a hero, but had to do something," he told ABC News.

Steve Buscemi volunteered with firefighters in the aftermath of September 11.

Actor Steve Buscemi at a charity event
Steve Buscemi.Cantor Fitzgerald/Getty Images

Actor Steve Buscemi worked as a firefighter in New York City from 1980 to 1984, Salon reported. And according to the Facebook page Brotherhood of Fire, Buscemi took up the job again after September 11.

In the aftermath of the attack, he returned to the firehouse where he'd worked in Little Italy and spent several days helping search through the rubble for survivors.

"It was a privilege to be able to do it," he said, according to a post on the Facebook page. "It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside."

Zoe Saldana helped a woman who was injured in a car accident.

zoe saldana
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney

According to People, Zoe Saldana came to the aid of an elderly woman who was injured in a car accident in 2012 by helping her out of the car and calling 911. The actress then stayed with the woman until the paramedics arrived.

"While waiting for help to arrive, Zoe returned to the woman's car and picked up the woman's handbag and sweater," an onlooker told People. "Zoe was very caring and sweet to the woman."

Gerard Butler saved a boy from drowning.

Actor Gerard Butler.
Gerard Butler.Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Back in 1997, Gerard Butler was having a picnic at Taymouth Castle in Scotland when he heard a boy screaming for help, The Herald reported. He ran to the riverbank and found a 14-year-old boy struggling in the water. He jumped in and pulled him to safety.

''I wouldn't call myself a hero. I just acted instinctively," Butler told The Herald. "When I brought him out he was lifeless. I'm just glad he's all right now."

Patrick Dempsey pulled a teenager out of a wrecked car.

Patrick Dempsey smiles against a pink background
Patrick Dempsey.Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

According to People, the first words Weston Masset said after his car crashed and he saw someone pulling him out of the wreckage were, "Are you famous?"

It was Patrick Dempsey who replied, "Yeah, I'm a doctor."

Dempsey, who is known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd on "Grey's Anatomy," used a crowbar to open the doors of the car and extract Masset from the crash in 2012. He also called the boy's mother. Masset walked away with a concussion and an eye injury.

T.I. talked a suicidal man down from the ledge.

Rapper T.I. performs
T.I.Rick Diamond/Getty Images

A man was threatening to jump from a 22-story office building in 2010. Police were trying to talk him down. Then rapper T.I. stepped in, according to CNN.

He offered to meet with the man and talk to him, and the man accepted. After a brief conversation, he was taken to a local hospital for a psychological evaluation.

"T.I. just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Atlanta Police spokesperson James Polite told the outlet.

Amy Winehouse saved a woman from drowning.

Singer Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse.Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for NARAS

OK! reported in 2009 that Amy Winehouse saved a woman from drowning while she was in St. Lucia.

Louise Williams was enjoying a sailing lesson when she was thrown from the boat and hit a rock. Williams said Winehouse ran over from the beach and prevented her from being swept away by the tide.

"I was bowled over by her kindness," Williams said. "She went out of her way to help me … It shows there's another side to her."

Prince Harry used his army training to help an injured polo player.

prince harry
Prince Harry.Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

As a veteran of Afghanistan and a captain in the British army, Prince Harry knows how to handle an emergency.

When fellow polo player Bash Kazin fell off his horse in 2012 and hit his head so hard he passed out, the royal rolled him onto his side into the recovery position to help him breathe properly. He regained consciousness and was able to finish the match. Later, he was taken to the hospital where he was given the all-clear.

"Prince Harry was the first one off his horse, doing the right thing, turning me over to make sure I regained consciousness," Kazin told the Washington Post.

Clint Eastwood saved a choking man using the Heimlich maneuver.

Actor Clint Eastwood at an event
Clint Eastwood.Getty Images / Riccardo S. Savi

Clint Eastwood was at a golf tournament in California in 2014 when the event's CEO Steve John began choking on a piece of cheese, The Carmel Pine Cone reports.

Eastwood, who was 83 at the time, performed the Heimlich maneuver, lifting John into the air three times before expelling the food from his throat.

"Clint saved my life," John told The Carmel Pine Cone.

Blake Shelton helped a group of people who got stuck in a mud hole in Oklahoma.

Country singer Blake Shelton speaks into a microphone
Blake Shelton.Handout/Getty Images

Bryar Blanton and three friends were riding along the Washita River in Oklahoma in 2015 when two members of their group got stuck in a mud hole, according to Entertainment Tonight. The other two went to look for help and encountered country singer and "The Voice" judge Blake Shelton driving along in his truck.

When he couldn't pull them out with his truck, he went home and came back with his tractor, which did the job.

Blanton tweeted his thanks to Shelton, who replied "No problem.. Now you boys stay outta jail!!! Ha!!!"

Demi Moore reached out to a Twitter user who was suicidal.

Actress Demi Moore.
Demi Moore.Getty Images / Jason Kempin

In 2009, a woman posted her intent to take her life on Twitter. Moore decided to respond.

"Hope you are joking," she replied, reposting the message and alerting police.

Twitter users who saw the exchange called the San Jose Police Department, who tracked the post to a 48-year-old woman. She was unharmed but in need of help, Sergeant Ronnie Lopez told CNN.

Mark Harmon rescued two teenage boys from a burning car.

Mark Harmon smiles and looks off to the side
Mark Harmon.Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

In 1996, Mark Harmon broke the window of a burning car to rescue two teenage boys after a crash in Los Angeles.

Seventeen years later in 2013, Colin Specht, one of the boys he saved, spoke to CBS New York about his gratitude for Harmon's bravery.

"There's no way I can repay him, except for pay it forward, and I try to do that in my life," Specht said.

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