Do you ever think about the Stunt Doubles?

Most movies of different fandoms such as the Marvel Universe, Star Trek, Star Wars, the DC Cinematic Universe, etc. are fast paced and filled with action which often makes one wonder what poor sod had to let himself get punched by Captain Marvel, shot by a laser blaster or punched through a wall.

Well its no surprise that there is more to it than meets the eye. Not anyone can be a stunt double. They are highly trained professional performers. Every stunt is executed exactly as planned, practiced, rehearsed, and reviewed. Stunts are designed to be as safe as possible.

The stunt doubles for some of the cast of Game of Thrones
They may not be perfect copies, but most times this is fixed through CGI in post-production

Stunts take lots of work and that means long days. One may work 14 hours a day for multiple days in a row.

Stunt doubles often attend stunt school or get an apprenticeship with a seasoned professional. Stunt schools often last around a month to six months and can be quite costly. Precision driving skills, wire work, martial arts, high falls, rappels, stair falls, foot falls, harness work, weaponry, and unarmed combat are a few of the things you’ll learn at a school like the International Stunt School.

Once a stunt double has a foot in the door, they will gradually work their way up from acting as a gopher.

After stunt school, get your resume and head shot out there and help set up stunts. Like any industry it’s who you know but it can also be about what you look like, what skills you have, and where you are. If a movie in the Amazon needs a 6 foot tall kung-fu expert and you’re in the area, you’ll get a job fast so the movie can stay on budget. As you get a few gigs under your belt, you’ll start to get more work.

Stunt doubles average $70,000 per year. If you’re newer to the industry, you may only make $5,000 per year. It all depends on how much work you manage to find. The highest end stunt double can make up to $250,000 per year. All it takes is one stunt to make money.

Emma Watson with her stunt doubles on the set of Harry Potter
There are often even multiple stunt doubles for one actor

The highest paid stunt ever was $150,000 for jumping off the CN Tower in Toronto.

Sometimes the books, comics, manga or anime can make stunts look easy and somewhat realistic. Nonetheless, one must appreciate the work that goes into carrying these out either on the big or small screen, as not everything that works in the previously mentioned four media translates well to the big screen (see here the Attack on Titan movies).


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