Stuntmen Are Turning into Action Directors

    24 April 2020

    Some of today's top action directors were first doubles for Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves and Hugh Jackman.

    A double is a person who looks like an actor and takes the actor's place in some scenes in a movie or TV show. The one who doubles during the filming of dangerous scenes or a stunt is called a stuntman.

    Increasingly, stuntmen and those who set up the stunts are becoming filmmakers themselves. They have years of experience doing complex shots and reducing safety risks for cast and crew members. They have also worked closely with movie stars.

    All of these experiences have given them a basis for directing films – especially action movies.

    "Extraction," a Netflix film starring Chris Hemsworth, is the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave. Hargrave doubled for Chris Evans on "Captain America" and Hugh Jackman on "Wolverine." He also set up stunts on films like "Avengers: Endgame" and "Hunger Games: Mockingjay."

    This image released by Netflix shows Chris Hemsworth, left, in a scene from
    This image released by Netflix shows Chris Hemsworth, left, in a scene from "Extraction," premiering this week on Netflix. (Jasin Boland/Netflix via AP)

    Hargrave is the latest in a line of stuntmen who have gone from stepping in for actors to directing them. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch are two other examples.

    Stahelski and Leitch are well known stuntmen. They have been leading the field since 1997 with their action design company 87Eleven.

    Stahelski set up the fighting scenes in "300" and the stunts in "The Expendables." Leitch was Brad Pitt's stunt double in "Fight Club" and doubled for Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix."

    They started as filmmakers with the action-filled "John Wick" movies. Stahelski directed and Leitch produced the movies. Leitch, himself, also directed "Atomic Blonde" and "Deadpool 2."

    Ric Roman Waugh, the son of a stuntman, is another example. He was one of the founding members of Stunts Unlimited. Waugh did stunt work in many films in the 1990s, including "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Crow" and "Lethal Weapon 2." He moved to directing in 2001′s "In the Shadows." He also directed last year's "Angel Has Fallen."

    Nash Edgerton has worked for some time as a stuntman. He doubled for actor Ewan McGregor's Star Wars character, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He did stunt work in "The Thin Red Line," "Superman Returns" and "Zero Dark Thirty." Edgerton also made short films, some with his brother, actor Joel Edgerton. In 2008, he directed his first feature film, "The Square." His latest directing effort is the 2018 comedy "Gringo" with David Oyelowo and Charlize Theron.

    One of the earliest stuntmen who became directors is Hal Needham. He performed stunts on "The French Connection" and "How the West Was Won." Needham then wrote the script for "Smokey and the Bandit" and persuaded actor Burt Reynolds, for whom he had doubled, to let him direct the movie. As a team, Needham and Reynolds went on to make "Hooper," "The Cannonball Run" and "Stroker Ace."

    The stuntman-turned-director has been quoted as saying not to worry about dialogue, "let's wreck some cars."

    I'm John Russell.

    Jake Coyle reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    scene – n. a division of an act in a play during which the action takes place in a single place without a break in time

    stunt – n. a difficult action or scene that is done by actors in a movie

    debut – n. the first time an actor, musician, athlete, etc., does something in public or for the public

    script – n.the written form of a play, movie, television show, etc.

    dialogue – n. the things that are said by the characters in a story, movie, play, etc.