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Filming 1996's Twister Temporarily Blinded the Two Stars, Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton

"Bill was the one who came forward and said, ‘I might be going crazy, but I don’t think I can see.’"

By James Grebey
Trailer: Twisters

Filming the upcoming disaster movie Twisters was no picnic. Star Glen Powell explained that he and his castmates had a jet engine blasting pieces of ice at them. Still, it could have been a lot worse. He could have been temporarily blinded, like the stars of the original 1996 Twister

Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt, who played the lead tornado-chasers in the ‘90s classic, suffered damage to their eyes during the filming. As the two actors later explained, the injury occurred because Oklahoma, where the movie was set, was experiencing unusually clear weather for tornado season. Those blue skies were great for residents, but not so good for the filmmakers who needed to shoot stormy, gray, and overcast skies. To get around this, they shot darkened skies in other parts of the country with more inclement weather. In order to make the skies behind the actors match, they shone extremely bright lights at the actors to make the background appear darker in comparison. That’s where the trouble began. 

RELATED: Twister Star Bill Paxton Had an Idea for a Sequel — Years Before Twisters

“So I remember these four 16k bulbs — 16,0000 watts of light — strapped to the back of the camera truck, shooting us,” Hunt recalled in a 2020 interview with Vulture. "And I have very squinty, sensitive eyes anyway. And I remember going, ‘I can barely keep my eyes open!’"

“Those lights, they were like sun balls,” Paxton told Entertainment Weekly in a story that’s no longer online. 

Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt during a scene in Twister

It wasn’t until later that both Hunt and Paxton realized something was wrong.

“We were there all day shooting the scene, and the next day, Bill came into the makeup trailer and said, ‘Can you see?’ And I said, ‘Not really.’ It was super weird,” Hunt explained. 

A local ophthalmologist and a UCLA eye specialist came to examine the two stars and determined that they had suffered no permanent damage. 

RELATED: Twisters Unleashes "Once in a Generation Tornado Outbreak" in Disastrous New Trailer

“It was not a big deal, ultimately,” Hunt said. “We put on some dark glasses and we walked around like the mice in Cinderella for a while. But I was very relieved that Bill was the one who came forward and said, ‘I might be going crazy, but I don’t think I can see.’ But it went away. I guess they fry your corneas off and then they grow back.”

Twisters hits theaters on July 19.