After learning a bit more about this moment it’s kind of hard to imagine anyone feeling too sorry for Gene Kelly despite the fact that he had a 103-degree fever while filming Singing in the Rain since it sounds as though he made Debbie Reynolds’ life a living hell and even made her cry consistently as he was known as a perfectionist, which in some cases tends to be the worst nightmare of everyone else on a movie set. But stepping back just a moment it is worth noting that he was still on set while running such a high fever, which is dangerous to start with and not at all recommended, even though it still happens to this day. Actors still come on set sick and still gut it out from time to time when they’re not feeling well. During the pandemic, it’s been less than ideal to do such a thing since the fear of the coronavirus is bad enough, but thinking about passing on something else to those on set is even worse since it’s just one more thing to worry over. But before the pandemic, there were plenty of actors that felt that the show had to go on and thus continued to do what they were getting paid for. In the most severe cases, one would have no choice but to shut down production for a while since it would be too risky to keep going.
Severe bodily injury and terminal illnesses tend to stop production cold since there’s no way to keep going when a star is on death’s door or looks like it at least, and asking them to continue onward would be one of the worst mistakes any director could make. Anything that can be shrugged off, pushed through, or otherwise endured is bound to be seen as something that actors are capable of taking as they struggle to make each scene work, but there are times when it comes off as pretty obvious that they’re not feeling well since it can be in the pitch of their voice, the way they walk, their posture, or just the way they look on camera since all the makeup in the world can’t hide illness sometimes, especially when one feels as though they’re about to violently ill while trying to get through a scene. It’s happened more than once, but unlike many office spaces or other workplaces, a person probably won’t be sent or asked to go home to avoid getting everyone sick, since obviously, the actors will sometimes decide to stick around and take the risk of infecting everyone in order to get a scene over and done with. That sounds gutsy and inspirational and highly irresponsible at the same time, to tell the truth. It also feels as though that many people either don’t take the health of actors seriously or are too afraid to hear that the actors are going to quit if they don’t get their way when it comes to filming at that moment. One would think that since the actors are getting paid anyway that they would want to simply relax and let the illness pass before getting back into the swing of things, but toughing it out is something that people have been doing for so long that a lot of people don’t want to look weak to their coworkers and subordinates.
It’s tough to know how to feel about this really since the ability to get other people on the set sick if one is contagious is very irresponsible and even reprehensible when one thinks about it, even if one only has the flu or a cold. But at the same time, the actors are being paid a lot of money to perform and it’s possible that they don’t want to take any extra time to rest up and get better when they can suck it up and get the job done at that moment. Then it kind of falls to the directors and who’s going to care about the welfare of their actors and who’s going to simply let their people keep going. There are those instances when it does feel as though the show should go on, but then there are those times when one has to wonder just how much the cast and crew really care about each other and their own well-being. In fact, it’s been reported that Debbie Reynolds’ actually considered it payback that Gene was running such a high fever after all the hell he’d been giving her during filming, which is a little vindictive but kind of easy to understand. The fact that he made his way through the movie while running that high of a fever though is at least a little impressive since with everything he had to do it’s a wonder he didn’t fall over a few times.