Actor slits own throat accidentally in suicide scene

Actor Daniel Hoevels was seriously injured on stage during a suicide scene in Friedrich Schiller's play Mary Stuart at Vienna's Burgtheater. The prop knife he used to slit his throat turned out to be real. Police are investigating whether it was an error or something more nefarious. The photo seen here is from a different performance. From The Guardian:
KnifethroatttDaniel Hoevels, 30, slumped over with blood pouring from his neck while the audience broke into applause at the "special effect". Police are investigating whether the knife was a mistake or a murder plot. They are questioning the rest of the cast, and backstage hands with access to props; they will also carry out DNA tests....

The knife was reportedly bought at a local shop; one possibility is that the props staff forgot to blunt its blade. "The knife even still had the price tag on it," an investigator said.
"Actor slits his own throat as knife switch turns fiction into reality"


  1. whenever i fake slice my own throat, i always check the sharpness of the blade first. i’m down to three fingers between both hands but my neck is still pristine.

  2. @ #6 Thank you, Monk plot, didn’t want to sound too insensitive, but yes, its eerily similar to a Monk Plot. Wonder if they get that show in Vienna.

  3. Never Never Never trust Props! One of the first things you learn. Every actor must learn this.

    An actor in one of my pieces has to pretend to commit suicide with a revolver. He then laughs at his audience. Every performance the empty weapon is triple-checked to make sure it is the same replica Colt .45 Peacemaker. Even then it is a nerve-wracking moment when the hammer falls.

    One actor wouldn’t even let Props touch it. He carried it to and from the theater in a box.

  4. Every actor must learn this.

    Lesson: learnt

    Buddy, any footage of your work, or a script to read? I didn’t even know you wrote..

  5. Makes you wonder why the actor felt the need to apply pressure when cutting, since the audience wouldn’t know if he was pressing hard or not and even a prop knife can inflict damage. I consider it poor judgment on his part.

  6. Best part:

    “After emergency treatment at a hospital, Hoevels declared that the show must go on, and returned to the stage on Sunday night with a bandage tied around his neck, ready to once again meet his mock demise.”

  7. Shades of the Crow, definitely. And the audience breaking into applause is kind of like the opening to Scream 2.

  8. There was actually an episode of the 1994 Austrian Crime show “Kommissar Rex” (Inspector Rex) where that happened, also in a theater in Vienna. What an odd coincidence!

  9. From the folks who are wondering why he was applying pressure or “continuing to cut” – “ghosting” over your neck is a visibly different motion than actually “slashing” at your neck. The audience can SEE that you’re faking it.

    Much like the audience can see when the sword is just tucked into your armpit, not impaling your chest.

    This is where blunt knives, collapsing stage swords, and other parts of the art of special effects come into play. The audience sees the actor “slice” his throat with the kind of smooth, fast, powerful motion one imagines would be needed to slit your own throat (and, as has been demonstrated, is pretty decent). Or for the collapsing sword, the audience sees one actor impale the other right on the sword, not deliberately miss and the “impalee” then badly fakes dying.

    Miming it, and trying to convince the audience that you’ve actually done it, are two different things.

  10. Sorry for the megapost, theatre and special effects are both subjects of great interest.

    TL;DR: “because it looks goofy if he just mimes it.”

  11. any publicity is good publicity

    I can’t help but feel that any further crowds this news draws in will be disappointed..

  12. I once saw a magician do the Russian Roulette trick where the object is to choose the single empty chamber to discharge into your head. Or in his case, the neck.
    You can guess what happened right? Yep, he picked a full chamber somehow, big mistake.
    Fortunately the live rounds he was using were actually blanks, but even so – a blank right into the neck. It was not nice.

  13. If the scene is set so that he has to walk into a room, pick up a knife, and cut himself with it, he can’t really check it before he uses it.

    If he pulls it out of a pocket and then cuts himself, he could check it before he walks on stage.

  14. I can tell you firsthand that sometimes a bad cut doesn’t hurt, especially at first and if it happens quickly.

    I laid my leg open to the bone in an accident when I was eight years old. I was freaked out but I didn’t cry because I didn’t feel a thing, so I can see how he finished the cut without realizing it.

    1. I had no idea that I had just sliced my knee open with my shiny new ax. The first pain that I felt was the needle full of lidocaine in the ER.

  15. Wonder if they get that show in Vienna.

    We do get this show here, even though I can’t really remember the plots from the first season anymore.

  16. Wow an incredibly overused murder plot from bad TV mystery shows has been brought to life.

    Though I’m really quite impressed at his decision to return to work. The play really is the thing.

  17. Something similar happened recently during filming of the TV show Dexter – Jimmy Smitts accidently used a real knife to stab someone.

  18. @#12 Arkizzle:

    “…any footage of your work, or a script to read? I didn’t even know you wrote.”

    Arky, check Profile. I can shovel the suicide scene to you. Everything posted was removed because of copyright issue.

  19. Sheeeit. The second half is e-mail address. “Profile” page slaps the HTTP on it. I really gotta shape up a website.

    As Michael Corleone says, “…keeps pulling me in.”

  20. Creepy. It’s funny how so many films have this “actor collapses, audience cheers at the realism” scene, and it really happened!

  21. The knife was reportedly bought at a local shop; one possibility is that the props staff forgot to blunt its blade.

    My god, this is just unbelievable — I mean, I believe that it happened it’s just insane. I do props work and for anything involving weapons the actor should have been working with the actual knife during rehearsals. Forgetting to dull the knife… I mean, only if there was a last minute switch and that’s still just wacky.

    But even as a props person, I agree with Buddy66, not because props people are by nature incompetent, but because things are dangerous and all it takes is one person screwing around with someone else’s props. Always double-check your presets.

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