In the final scene of Pi, we see the character depicted by Sean Gullette put a drill directly to a tumorous bulge on his head. There's a noticeable blood splatter and the character doesn't flinch. In the director's commentary, Aronofsky states:

Sean [Gullette] is a full-on method actor. We had an ambulance waiting.

Is this true?

  • See here for method acting, and then reconsider Aronofsky's comment.
    – Charles
    Mar 16, 2018 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


I've just watched the scene, and if you look closely (when you can see his face in the mirror) you'll see that there's a strange texture on his head right around where he is about to drill. That is probably some piece of prosthetics / make up so he could drill into that without drilling directly into his own head.

It's also possible that he angled the drill in a way that it doesn't go perpendicularly into his head or the drill bit was a bit loose in the chuck so it's actually going into the drill instead of into his head. Different tricks could have been used.

The ambulance would be necessary in case he drilled too far into the prosthetics and ended up hurting himself, so that was a real risk.


I'd have to believe Pi would have been his last film if that were the case. He's made dozens since then.

  • 2
    Do you have some source to confirm that? There are many ways to achieve that same effect without killing the actor
    – Luciano
    Jan 15, 2018 at 10:34
  • 1
    Also, trepany was (and minorly still is) an actual medical technique, and there are still people today that practice their own brand of tepany. You can drill all the holes in the skull you want with minimal effect as long as you don't damage the brain.
    – JohnP
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:28

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