When you watch an action movie, you’re seeing the work of not just the actors but also the unsung heroes of the film industry: the stunt doubles. These are the people who take the risks, perform dangerous stunts, and put their bodies on the line to make the movie look as realistic and thrilling as possible.
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of stunt doubles, answering all your questions about who they are, what they do, and how they keep themselves safe while performing dangerous stunts.
What is a Stunt Double?
A stunt double is a trained professional who performs dangerous stunts in place of an actor in a movie or TV show. The stunt double is hired to perform the stunts that are too risky or dangerous for the actor to perform, such as jumping off buildings, driving fast cars, or engaging in hand-to-hand combat.
While the actor may do some of their own stunts, it’s usually the stunt double who takes on the more dangerous or complex stunts. This allows the actor to focus on their performance without putting themselves in harm’s way.
What Does a Stunt Double Do?
Stunt doubles do much more than just perform dangerous stunts. They also work closely with the director and choreographer to plan and rehearse the stunts, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and safely on set.
Here are some of the main responsibilities of a stunt double:
- Rehearsing stunts: Before filming begins, the stunt double will work with the choreographer to rehearse the stunts, making sure that they’re executed perfectly and safely.
- Filming stunts: When it’s time to film the stunts, the stunt double will step in for the actor, performing the stunt while the cameras roll.
- Ensuring safety: Stunt doubles are trained to perform dangerous stunts safely. They wear protective gear, use specialized equipment, and work with trained professionals to minimize the risk of injury.
- Working with actors: Stunt doubles often work closely with the actors to ensure that their movements and actions match those of the actor they’re doubling for.
- Problem-solving: Stunt doubles need to be able to think on their feet and problem-solve quickly. If something goes wrong during a stunt, they need to be able to react quickly and make adjustments on the fly.
How Do Stunt Doubles Stay Safe?
Stunt doubles perform some of the most dangerous and physically demanding work in the film industry, so it’s essential that they take steps to keep themselves safe. Here are some of the ways that stunt doubles stay safe on set:
- Training: Stunt doubles undergo extensive training in a variety of skills, from martial arts to driving to high falls. This training helps them build the skills they need to perform stunts safely and effectively.
- Protective gear: Stunt doubles wear a variety of protective gear, including helmets, pads, and harnesses, to minimize the risk of injury during stunts.
- Specialized equipment: Stunt doubles use specialized equipment, such as wire rigs and airbags, to perform stunts safely and minimize the risk of injury.
- Communication: Stunt doubles work closely with the director, choreographer, and other crew members to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the stunts. They communicate clearly and regularly to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
How much do stunt doubles get paid?
The pay for stunt doubles can vary depending on their level of experience, the size of the production, and the complexity of the stunts involved. According to the Screen Actors Guild, stunt performers can earn a daily rate of $1,005 for performing basic stunts, and up to $2,588 for more complex stunts. However, rates can vary widely depending on the project and the performer’s experience.
How do you become a stunt double?
To become a stunt double, you typically need to have a background in athletics, gymnastics, or a related physical activity. You’ll also need to undergo extensive training in stunts, such as high falls, fight scenes, and vehicle stunts. Many stunt performers also have experience in acting or dancing, as these skills can help them better perform their roles. Networking and building relationships within the industry is also important for finding work as a stunt double.
Do all actors use stunt doubles?
Not all actors use stunt doubles, but many do. Some actors are willing and able to perform their own stunts, while others may be unable to do so due to injury, physical limitations, or safety concerns. Additionally, some productions may require the use of stunt doubles for insurance or legal reasons. Ultimately, the decision to use a stunt double is up to the actor and the production team.
Is being a stunt double dangerous?
Yes, being a stunt double can be dangerous. Stunt performers often perform high-risk stunts that involve falls, fire, and other hazards. Despite extensive training and safety precautions, there is always a risk of injury or even death. Stunt performers are trained to minimize risk, and many have specialized skills and equipment to help them perform their stunts safely.