20 best on-set practical jokes

Pranks for the memories

Because just as you might have the office joker at work, a movie set will often also have a trickster, someone playing on the confidence of others until they can strike most effectively... with a fake dead body from the guys at the props department. Here are some of the best pranks, jokes and tricks cruelly played on movie co-stars and crew.

The Wham! mobile

The Prank: Clearly something had to be done to lighten the mood while filming this stats-heavy baseball movie, and so Brad Pitt surprise-pimped Jonah Hill's ride.

Pitt painted Hill's studio golf cart pink, he stuck photos of the pair of them together Photoshopped as Wham! and he rigged it to play Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. And if the joke wasn't already clear enough, he also had the words "I am Jonah Hill and I love Wham!" placed on the windscreen.

The naked Hobbit cuddle

The Prank: Let this be a lesson in karma. Dominic Monaghan (A.K.A. Merry) was such a prankster on set that the crew decided to get their own back.

Along with fellow Hobbit Billy 'Pippin' Boyd, Monaghan was given a "revised" script on one particular day of shooting that included a new scene. After Merry and Pippin encounter Treebeard, they were to get knocked off a branch, lose their clothing in the subsequent fall and then have to cuddle together to keep warm... while completely naked. The crew let them have an awkward journey to set together before letting them in on the joke.

The subtle weight gain

The Prank: If there's ever a reason not to work with George Clooney, it's because the charming actor loves a good prank. In fact, he doesn't ever really stop. It must be exhausting.

Take this film, for example. Knowing that co-star Matt Damon was trying to lose weight and get fit for his next role, he had the costume department take in his waistband a quarter of an inch every week. Despite working so hard to get in shape, Damon was left baffled as to why he seemed to be gaining weight.

The dead body on the toilet

The Prank: Josh Hutcherson must have been channelling Weekend At Bernie's when he found a spectacular new use for a dummy corpse prop.

The fake cadaver was supposed to have been stung extensively by wasps so it was, in Hutcherson's words, "all swollen and gnarly-looking and mangled". Perfect then for sneaking it into Jennifer Lawrence's trailer and positioning it on the toilet, complete with toilet paper in his hand.

The frozen rat

The Prank: Mel Gibson confessed to one stunningly simple prank he played on co-star Julia Roberts: "I found a place where they sold freeze-dried rats. I wrapped it up and left it for her in her dressing room. I knew she had opened it because you could hear her screams for miles.''

Not the most nuanced prank on this list, granted, but it certainly had the desired effect.

The divas ego

The Prank: For once, George Clooney was on the receiving end of a prank while filming this Steven Soderbergh sequel.

Brad Pitt distributed letters to the Italian-speaking crew to tell them that Clooney demanded to be addressed as Mr. Ocean throughout the shoot and that nobody should ever look him in the eye.

The rude bumper sticker

The Prank: George Clooney retaliated. Because of course he did.

He put bumper stickers on Brad Pitts car. The first read Im gay and I vote. The next read Small penis on board. Co-star Matt Damon said that people used to honk as he drove past and Pitt would just assume that it's because they recognised him so he would honk and wave back.

The Nick Nolte arrest

The Prank: Woody Harrelson and Sean Penn built up quite the prank rivalry on the set of this film, but Harrelson took things way too far.

Co-star Nick Nolte phoned Penn late one night saying that he had been arrested and begged him bail him out. When Penn arrived to the police station, he found Nolte handcuffed in a cell and then a 'guard' fired a gun and approached Penn pointing the firearm at him... only to reveal himself to be a hysterical Woody Harrelson. Needless to say, Penn refused to give him a lift home.

The car crash

The Prank: Paul Newman had an ongoing tempestuous relationship with director George Roy Hill, which saw the actor once saw his desk in half, and then on the set of The Sting, saw his car in half.

But his greatest achievement was staging a horrific car accident with himself behind the wheel... which he reportedly did to get back at Hill for failing to buy a round of drinks.