Created By: KJMackley on July 1, 2011

Does His Own Stunts

Go Ahead and Doubt the Legend, But It's All True

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Actors have to deal with fans believing them to be their characters, but there are times when they have to deal with the skeptics who doubt them being anything like their characters. Sometimes as a matter of pride, others a matter of honor, they step up to a challenge to prove that they are not relying on special effects, stunt doubles or talent doubles.

Despite being more common in a Show Within a Show premise, it can happen outside that due to rumors of the hero's exploits or other such things.

  • Basically named after promotional material for Jackie Chan's movies, that the actor really is performing all of the hair-raising and death-defying things we see. To further the impression, Chan started including Hilarious Outtakes to show the actual injuries he has acquired doing those stunts. A variation of the trope name comes up in Shanghai Knights in the outtakes where Roy (Owen Wilson) suggests Chon (Jackie Chan) to go to hollywood.
    • Springboarding from here we can make a long list of actors who are as legitimately tough as the characters they play.
      • Bruce Lee. Potential rivals would approach him for a fight, thinking he was just a glitzy movie guy, only to be promptly knocked out. Apparently filming of Enter the Dragon was delayed several weeks due to the sheer number of challenges he would get.
      • In an atypical example, Victor Borge was one of the great pianists of the last hundred years but due to his comedic bent in his performances a good many people disbelieved he had any significant skill. The few times he played a complex piece entirely straight usually managed to silence them.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has the movie star Lucas Lee who really is an impressive badass and seems to only use his stunt crew to do scenes he would normally be too busy for. In fact defeating him required Scott to challenge his ego to perform a suicidal rail grind down a long flight of stairs just to prove he could do it. He explodes at the end.
  • A plot point in íThree Amigos! is that the actors were believed to be real heroes saving real people, being recruited for a promotional event (save out town from a bandit) only to learn it was all for real and they wanted out. But one of the bad guys was an old fan of theirs, explaining his disappointment to learn of Hollywood trickery being behind their stunts. While the actors weren't exactly badasses, they did largely do their own stunts and managed to hold out with a combination of already existing skill and their acting ability.
  • Johnny Cage in the various Mortal Kombat series is an action hero who gets involved with the tournament because he wanted to prove he was a legitimate martial artist in his own right. The Mortal Kombat movie had his Character Development revolve around not needing to prove himself that way, not needing to seek the verification of others.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • July 1, 2011
    Averted in recent Jackie Chan films where he has stunt men, or so I've heard.
  • July 1, 2011
    Considering he's getting older and is not the athlete he used to be, I don't particularly blame him. And he has gotten hurt (and almost killed) on several occasions when a stunt went wrong.
  • July 1, 2011
    Tom Cruise reportedly does his own stunts in the Mission Impossible films.
  • July 2, 2011
    In the TV series Supernatural, the actor who plays Sam does his own stunts. He once broke his wrist that way.
  • September 13, 2011
    Patrick Wilson in the 2004 version of The Phantom Of The Opera did his own underwater stunt
  • September 14, 2011
    Jack Benny was really a good violin player, he just played a bad one on TV. (a la the Victor Borge piano example.)
  • September 15, 2011
    I get the impression this was intended for in-universe examples, in which case it evidently Needs A Better Title.
  • September 15, 2011
    Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd?
  • September 15, 2011
    Lou Ferrigno did all (or at least almost all) the stunts in The Incredible Hulk partially because they couldn't get a double who looked anything like him.
  • September 16, 2011
    Yeah, it was meant to be In Universe. I find it funny that no one has suggested an actual fictional example yet. Not only that they are all just examples of people who do their own stunts, not the "People think it's all Hollywood" qualifier. Maybe there should be a split based on usage, but I'm thinking if that happened the actual trope will be discarded for the trivia.

    In Dragonball Z Mr. Satan claimed that the flying and light show of prior World Martial Arts Tournaments (the ones Goku and company competed in) were a bunch of tricks and stage deceptions. It was only until the Cell Tournament that he started to realize their abilities were real, but still maintained to the press that it was a bunch of tricks (a later "re-enactment" of the Cell Games explicitedly had them on wires and making movements timed with explosives).
  • September 16, 2011
    Perhaps if you led with fictional examples instead of Real Life it might inspire people to recall other fictional examples. (Just Trying To Help.)