When the going gets tough for celebrities in the movies, the tough get calling their stunt double.
Standing in for the star for elaborate fight scenes, dangerous stunts or challenges that are too physically demanding, these professionals step in to keep the film rolling. If you’ve ever been told that you look like a celebrity and you also have a burning desire to jump off a building onto a moving car, then the world of a professional stunt double might be a great career choice for you.
Double Vision: Becoming A Stunt Double
Stunt doubles don’t just stumble into their profession – becoming successful requires you to be in great physical shape and commit to years of training and hard work. Additionally, it’s no secret that breaking into Hollywood is one of the hardest things you can do. It can be a matter of being in the right place at the right time. However, by getting yourself ready and creating those opportunities, you can set your career off in the right direction.
1) Become a health nut.
If you’re going to be performing physically demanding stunts, getting yourself in peak condition is the key to success. Daily visits to the gym for both cardio and weight training should be high on your agenda, as well as classes such as yoga to keep you flexible. Aim for a highly nutritious diet as well to keep you healthy, as well as help keep your skin and hair looking great.
2) Get the skills to pay the bills.
The more you’re able to offer, the better off you’ll be as a stunt double. For example, skills like gymnastics are very important for performing many of the stunts you may be called upon to do. Get your lessons in and learn new activities like rock climbing, swimming, or skiing. Try to think about the skills called upon for any action movie, and match your training to that.
3) Learn to be fast and furious.
Getting licensed to drive cars, motorcycles and boats can make you very valuable as a stunt double. Look to get training in defensive driving, which will teach you safe ways to break out of slides and turns and how to drive in dangerous conditions. There are also stunt driver schools across the country that will allow you to build your behind-the-wheel repertoire.
4) Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting.
Along with gymnastics, being well-versed in martial arts is a highly desirable skill for any stunt double worth their protective gear. Disciplines like Judo, Kendo and mixed martial arts (MMA) training can help you learn to break falls and roll without injury.
5) Hooray for Hollywood.
Get your portfolio together with a head shot, full body shot and a fact sheet that lists your vital statistics and skills. It will take a while to break into the business, so in the meantime, do anything to get your foot in the door so you can meet people. Even being a runner can lead to valuable contacts for your career.
6) Know what to do if you’re injured.
Injuries are the mortal enemy of any stunt double, and knowing what to do when they happen can have a big impact on your career. Get your injury seen to by a qualified doctor immediately so an assessment can be made. Also, contacting an injury attorney is also a good idea, as they will be able to advise you of any legal responsibilities other parties may have, as well as negotiate insurance claims on your behalf. A site for an injury attorney in Chicago spoke about a case in which a worker fell off a truck. It stated, “The report is sparse on the details of how he fell, but it was serious enough to require medical attention. He eventually succumbed to his injuries and died at the hospital.” So, it is easy to see how quickly dreadful events can take place.
Though breaking into Hollywood in any capacity is tough, by arming yourself with the right skill set, you can definitely improve your chances. Take the time to get the training you need and try to learn as much as you can before you attempt your path to stardom. By showing that you’re taking your stunt double career seriously, the film industry is more likely to take you seriously.