What Gross Movie Foods Actors Had To Eat Were Really Made Of

It's something that can sneak up in almost any movie: the gross movie food scene. We're not just talking about horror and sci-fi movies (although those come almost with a guarantee that someone's going to be nomming on something nasty at some point). We're talking about a good old adventure flick, and sometimes, we're talking about some much-needed revenge playing out on screen. Seeing some of our favorite actors eating something that was never meant for human consumption on-screen can be enough to make us push aside our popcorn, even if we know they're not really eating intestines, or live animals, or poop pies.

Are they?

Here's the thing: Sometimes, gross food scenes are done with a little bit of movie magic, and we — along with our on-screen heroes — can be grateful for that. But sometimes, a director insists on a little more realism, or an actor commits to their character so completely that those nasty foods are the real deal.

So, let's talk about stomach-churning food scenes. What famous movie moments are just a bit of movie magic, and which are real?

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

There's an entire generation of people who gasped with delight at the exploits of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and who were subsequently scarred for life after going into The Temple of Doom expecting some of the same fun, Nazi-fighting times and seeing gross movie food instead.

Yep. You know what scene we're talking about.

It's the dinner scene, where Harrison Ford's Indy and Kate Capshaw's Willie sit down to a feast ... of the sort she, at least, was clearly not expecting. In addition to dealing with all those bugs (there were 50,000 cockroaches and 30,000 beetles on set), they were also served up some oh-so-yummy beetles. Those, at least, weren't real. According to Mental Floss, the beetles were plastic and the inside — the part that got eaten — was custard.

We can't forget the monkey heads! Servants remove the top to reveal the starter course of monkey brains and thankfully, there's good news. No, those weren't real, either. They were custard too, with raspberry sauce mixed in for effect. More good news? Willie's excitement over her soup backfires and she gets a lovely-looking broth with some eyeballs, also not real — they were rubber eyes.

The Help

 ScreenRant calls it "cinema's classiest gross out gag," and we can get on board with that description. The Help tells the story of an aspiring writer, played by Emma Stone, who decides that she wants to write a book about what it's really like to be a black maid in the 1960s Deep South.

One of the main characters — Octavia Spencer's Minny — is fired by Bryce Dallas Howard's horrible Hilly Holbrook. What follows is a bit of sweet, sweet revenge: Minny "apologizes" by baking one of her famous chocolate pies and serving it up to her ex-boss. Only it's not chocolate ... it's something just as brown and squishy.

Spencer said it was the most fun she'd had on a movie set, but what about Howard? No, she didn't really have to eat a gross movie food piece of poop pie, says Entertainment Weekly. There were a few different pies used. One was a chocolate pie filled with all the usual deliciousness, which was a screen pie. The other was a sugar-free version for Howard to eat, and that was made with stevia, almond milk, and Egg Beaters. It was a little easier on the stomach, and given that they were made by a local Mississippi baker, they were probably pretty delicious. Mind over matter.

Stand by Me

Stand by Me is one of those absolute classics. If you haven't seen it, go watch it. We'll wait.

If you just need a refresher, it's the adaptation of a Stephen King novella called The Body, and it's the take of a group of friends who go on a fun-filled summer adventure ... to try to find a corpse. (What else did you expect from Stephen King?)

Those who have seen the movie know exactly what scene we're talking about here. As the kids sit around a campfire, one tells the story as only a 12-year-old boy could. It is, of course, the story of the pie-eating contest and the gross movie food vomit-fest that follows afterward. 

Director Rob Reiner spoke to Entertainment Weekly and confirmed that yes, the pies were real. They had ordered dozens from a local bakery, along with "vats of filling." While they were eating the pies as though it was a pretty standard pie-eating contest, the vomit effect was done with the help of a power washer and some cottage cheese mixed into the filling. It's safe to say that some of that got eaten, though: Actor Andy Lindberg (pictured) and all the extras spent several hours covered in it.


Decade-defining Christmas movies can become such a part of our holiday traditions that we can't imagine going a year missing one, and Elf absolutely falls into that category.

When Will Ferrell says, "We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup," it sets the tone for the movie's food scenes (via Phoenix New Times). But even if you have the biggest sweet tooth in the world, he eats enough sugar and gross movie food to make anyone's stomach churn.

And according to ScreenRant, Ferrell totally took one for the team and really did eat Buddy's sugary treats. He's said: "That was tough. I ingested a lot of sugar in this movie and I didn't get a lot of sleep. I constantly stayed up. But anything for the movie, I'm there. If it takes eating a lot of maple syrup, then I will — if that's what the job calls for."

In addition to some sleepless nights, Ferrell also suffered from chronic, sugar-induced headaches throughout filming. Hilariously, one of the non-sugary items Ferrell had to eat — the doctor's cotton balls — were also sugar (via QX104). Specifically, they were undyed cotton candy!

Werner Herzog and Gates of Heaven

Werner Herzog is a German director with a massively impressive list of credits to his name, and it turns out that he's also a man of his word.

Let's go back to 1979. Herzog had taken a young filmmaker named Errol Morris under his wing, and Morris was having trouble finishing his first film. It was a documentary about pet cemeteries called Gates of Heaven, and in order to give Morris some incentive, Herzog said (via The Hollywood Reporter) that if the movie ever got finished, he'd eat his shoe.

Morris finished the film, and Herzog not only ate the shoe, but he made a documentary about it too. The aptly-named Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe was filmed in 1980 and featured the director chowing down on a shoe that had been prepared by the legendary chef Alice Waters. Waters had spent a whole day cooking it with duck fat, salt, pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme, but it didn't make it any less of a shoe. 

Herzog dedicated the dinner to those who wanted "to make films and are scared to start." As for Morris? Roger Ebert would later name Gates of Heaven one of the ten best films of all time. 

Star Wars: A New Hope

When Disney's epic Star Wars experience opened and suddenly every visiting fan was able to order up a glass of the famous blue Bantha milk we first saw Luke Skywalker drinking in A New Hope, it was super exciting. Mark Hamill himself tweeted a photo of him and his glass (via CinemaBlend), and it turns out that one simple shot that made it to our screens a long time ago was more disgusting than you'd think.

He wrote: "Honestly though: the warm, oily, sickly-sweet dyed blue milk from the movie was gag-inducing ..."

What? It seriously looked like milk dyed blue, right? It wasn't, for a very good reason. According to CBR, Hamill went into further detail, saying: "Blue milk was 'Long Life' milk (used by campers because no refrigeration is needed) with blue food coloring. Oily, warm, and slightly sweet, it literally made me gag, but I was determined to drink it on-camera. It was an acting challenge to appear as though I enjoyed it."

It turns out that this particular kind of milk has been super-heated, then packed in a sterile container. And that means it's safe to drink after it's been stored in a warm environment ... necessary for a movie filmed in Tunisia! This is the kind of gross movie food we're glad we didn't have to consume.

Lord of the Rings

First, let's just say that there's plenty of food from the Lord of the Rings movies that looks downright delicious. Who, after all, could pass up the chance to live like a hobbit? (For a little while, at least!) There's a reason they eat all those meals, after all.

Other gross movie foods ... not so much. First, there's the lembas, which is sort of a nutrient-heavy food that's more utilitarian than tasty. It's easy to carry, non-perishable, and it'll fill you up ... everything you want when you're on the road, except for maybe taste. Good news for the actors, it wasn't as bland as it looked: According to In Literature, it was just a shortbread cookie.

But it was Gollum that had it pretty rough. Remember when he started chowing down on a raw fish in Return of the King? Like ... an entire raw fish?

The One Ring's MrCere asked actor Andy Serkis about it, saying that of all the disturbing parts of the movie, that was one of the worst. And Serkis confirmed that yes, he had to bite what looked like a fish: "Actually, it was a gelatin fish. They made a few gelatin models which I had to bite into, which actually, in all honesty, tasted more disgusting than biting into a raw fish. I would rather have eaten a raw fish."


Fair warning: This one isn't just going to be a gross movie food, it's going to get more than a little cruel.

Oldboy was a massively popular, ultra-violent Korean flick that was mainly about vengeance (and yes, it was remade by Spike Lee in 2013). The original stars Choi Min-sik — and it's important to note for reasons that will quickly become clear that in real life, he's both a vegetarian and a Buddhist. But still, when it came time for his character to hungrily devour an octopus that was still alive, he absolutely did it.

And Mental Floss says that he didn't just eat one, he ate four — that's what the director needed to get the take. Even though each octopus got a heartfelt apology before it was eaten, he still slurped them down.

Vice spoke with cephalopod (i.e., octopus) expert Jennifer Mather and asked how aware an octopus is and if it felt pain (or if it was more along the lines of oysters and clams.) She had this to say: "The octopus, which you've been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. It's just as painful as if it were a hog, a fish, or a rabbit, if you chopped a rabbit's leg off piece by piece. So, it's a barbaric thing to do to the animal."

The Revenant

The cast and crew of The Revenant has said (via Vanity Fair) that it was just as hard to film as some scenes are to watch ... especially for animal-lovers. From sleeping inside dead animals to eating what a real person would be forced to eat while out in the wilderness, it's pretty rough.

It's Leonardo DiCaprio who's front and center during most of the film, playing the fur trapper Hugh Glass. After surviving a bear attack, he's on the prowl, looking for a fellow trapper who left him for dead. Along the way, he's got to take a massive bite out of a bison's raw liver. And the cut that made it into the movie? He's really eating a massive, raw bison liver.

DiCaprio told Today that at first, they gave him "this red gelatinous sort of pancake to eat, and it just didn't look real. It didn't look authentic to me. I wanted to get the real thing, and it was this giant liver. It was completely disgusting ... My reaction is very much on screen, which is a nauseating one."

Unsurprisingly, he's also called The Revenant "the hardest film, professional thing that I have ever done." We can't blame him after having to choke down this gross movie food.

Rosemary's Baby

When it comes to genre-defining horror movies, the 1968 cult classic Rosemary's Baby is definitely up there. It is, of course, the story of Mia Farrow's Rosemary Woodhouse, a young woman who becomes pregnant with the child of the devil. What went on behind the scenes was just as fraught with tension as that on-screen terror, and according to AnOther, Farrow had something to prove: she was married to Frank Sinatra at the time, and he wanted her to give up acting to just be, well, a "full-time wife." She was having none of that, and one of the ways she showed just what she thought of that?

She didn't argue when director Roman Polanski instructed her to eat raw liver, probably one of the grossest movie foods of all time. 

And that was a big deal — according to Farrow's autobiography (via Fame Focus), "When Roman wanted me to eat raw liver, I ate it, take after take, even though, at the time, I was a committed vegetarian." That's some serious dedication.

The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush came out in 1925, and even if you've never seen the whole thing, you've probably seen the iconic scene we're talking about. The film stars Charlie Chaplin as one of his most famous characters: the Little Tramp. At the film's premiere, he said that it was the movie he wanted to be remembered by, and it absolutely is.

The famous gross movie food scene we're talking about is where Chaplin eats his shoe, and fans will be happy to know that special effects had progressed to the point where no, he didn't actually have to eat a boot. According to Mental Floss, the boot in question was actually made of licorice, and they actually made 20 pairs for the scene where Chaplin and his co-star resorted to sharing a single boot for their Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was probably a blessing and a curse. the scene actually took three days to shoot, and they ended up doing a whopping 63 takes. Why? It turned out that the licorice boots had some "inconvenient laxative effects."

Sorry, Charlie!

Night of the Living Dead

If you love zombie movies, you probably already know that you can thank George Romero and Night of the Living Dead for setting the bar. They were the ones that cemented the idea of Walking Dead-style zombies into our collective consciousness (and, of course, into our nightmares), and they did it on a shoestring budget.

That, says Newsweek, meant a lot of things, including the fact that in order to get around paying extras, crew and even the film's investors did double duty portraying zombies on-screen. And some really, really got into it.

When it comes to memorable movie scenes, we've got to go with that one of all the zombies digging into a gross movie food feast of human remains that were served up at least partially charred after a truck explosion. While they weren't real human parts, of course, they were still gross — the blood was chocolate syrup, and the remains were the hearts, lungs, and intestines of sheep. One of the movie's investors happened to own a meatpacking plant, and presto: organ problem solved.

And some of those zombies digging in? They were some of the businessmen that invested in the film. Co-writer John A. Russo had this to say about shooting that scene: Our commercial clients surprised us because they were straight up-and-down, suit-and-tie people, I mean, they were ultra-conservative. But some of the ad agent presidents were the ones biting into those animal parts."


Movies and television shows based on comic books are pretty commonplace now. But back when John Leguizamo suited up for a movie based on Spawn, well, that was ye olde days of 1997, and comic book movies didn't have the oomph they have today. Spawn wasn't that well-received, and Leguizamo told ScreenRant that he thought part of the problem was that it just wasn't dark enough.

But when it came time for his gross movie food scenes, he didn't just go dark — he went super dark. 

His character — Violator — finds a trash pizza at one point and decides that'll make a fine snack. The pizza looks like it's covered in maggots, as any trash pizza would be, and those weren't fake. Those were real maggots, and yes, Leguizamo did just go for it. In 2014, he tweeted: "Yes I did eat maggots in #spawn but only swallowed a few! Ha ha!" Hopefully it was at least ridiculously good pizza.

Rescue Dawn

If you haven't seen Rescue Dawn and you're a fan of war, survival, and gritty, realistic movies where people — and actors — are pushed to the limits (or just gross movie food), definitely add this one to your queue. Christian Bale stars in the true story as a fighter pilot who becomes the only American to escape from a POW camp deep in the Laos jungle. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an impressive 90 percent, and Bale? He gives it his all.

So did director Werner Herzog. According to IndieWire, he's absolutely down with his actors doing crazy stuff on-camera ... but he always tries it himself first. That includes both the extreme torture scenes and Bale scarfing down one of the only things prisoners had to eat: live maggots.

Apparently, Herzog also wolfed down some maggots in order to show Bale exactly what he wanted done. Was that necessary? Maybe not. Was it a nice gesture toward a man you're asking to eat real, live, squiggly-wiggly maggots? Absolutely.