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Stunt Training Actors

Stunt Coordinator TJ White with Stuntwoman Boni Yanagisawa

Stunt training actors and actresses is something that elite stunt coordinators and stuntmen do quite often on set. The reason there is an industry in stunts is because in most cases it is impossible for an actor to be able to act and have the ability to perform all stunts. Although in many cases there are a few that insist on doing some of the labor and in more cases the directors are the ones that require the actor to enlist in stunt training so they can get their shot for their action sequence.

Using the Bourne film series as an example of why stunt training actors can increase profit in the box office. These films wouldn’t be as thrilling if you didn’t see Matt Damon speeding through the streets of  Paris in a Mini Cooper. The fight sequences wouldn’t be as brutal if you didn’t see a glimpse of Damon’s face versus just the back of his stunt double’s head. Of course his double is there to do more of the extreme and technical aspects but directors know what audiences want and they want to believe their favorite action hero can actually do most if not some of the stunts.

As filmmaking advances with new technology there is an advancement that is happening within the actors as well. With new creative ideas of how stunts can be done and how far the line can be crossed the evolution of stunt training actors has to forge ahead.

Today, it is a fact that stunt training has elevated the action actor into another realm of fame and glory. Tom Cruise’s ability to train and do many of his stunts in the Mission: Impossible film series is due to the hard efforts of the stunt department training and perfecting his proficiency in stunts. Audiences flock to the theater to see Cruise be Ethan Hunt because they believe the action. Fans don’t like to be fooled so when they see their action actor performing alongside their doubles it gives them a sense of relief to know that their badass hero that they just spent $20 dollars to go see at the theater is delivering the goods.

Training begins many weeks and even months before any director ever yells “Action!” In pre-production the stunt training can include motorcycle driving, stunt driving, and various forms of fighting to make sure that the actor is believable when it comes time to film. When the actors have gone as far as they can go then the stuntmen and stuntwomen come into play. Many stunt performers include: college athletes, cirque de soliel performers, high divers, Olympic athletes, MMA fighters, NASCAR drivers, and even sensi’s themselves. These experts will work alongside the actor to create a reality that then can be taken on screen and be creditable.

As always safety is rule number one and stunt coordinators and stuntmen will always be sure to use proper stunt equipment and pads to reduce the risk of injury. It is important to have well qualified coordinators on set and involved with the stunt training because if your lead actor gets injured because he or she thought she could do the stunt, well then your whole picture is postponed and all your momentum becomes deflated along with the studio’s pocket book.

 

AFI students being stunt trained by TJ White



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