I didn't want to use a stunt man, because I wanted to use a telephoto lens and zoom in slowly all the way to my face so you could see it was really me. I put on a little disguise and slipped into a sneak preview of the film to see how people liked it. When I was hanging up there in the air, the woman in front of me said to her friend, "Gee, I wonder how they did that?" and her friend said, "Special effects."What do Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Jackie Chan all have in common? Answer: They performed all their own stunts. There are a few flavours to this.
- The actor is a stuntperson in his or her own right—in other words, they've got the training and the skill. Quite common in Silent Films, when stunt doubles were almost unknown and No OSHA Compliance was a Real Life fact.
- Some actors insist on doing their own stunts—then they get injured and realize that yes, a professional stunt person really is necessary. In other words, they grow up.
- Another example someone growing up occurred in the 1980's, when the young star of a popular TV show insisted on doing all his own stunts and bragged about it every chance he got-until an older character actor on the same show pulled him aside and informed him that everytime he did his own stunt, he was preventing someone from getting a paycheck. The stunt double was kept busy and earning paychecks- starting immediately thereafter.
- Smarter actors who want to do their own stunts but are aware that some things are best left to the professionals work closely with the stunt coordinator and their team to do as many shots as they can themselves as well as the easier stunts while using doubles for the bigger and riskier ones.
- The actor only claims to do their own stunts. (Readers should take many of the examples below with a grain of salt, as false claims that actors "really" did stunts have always been a popular way of getting publicity.)
- Virtually exclusive to In-Universe instances (often action series), where the hero will be hired or persuaded to protect an actor who does their own stunts. If the actor only claims to do their own stunts, the protagonist's job is to keep the truth from coming out.
Real Life Examples
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- Charlie Chaplin
- Baby Peggy, and that's considering she was a toddler when she had to pull off those stunts. Taken to the extreme when she had to escape a burning set in The Darling of New York.
- Harold Lloyd, even when he lost some of his fingers (which wasn't even in a stunt sequence - he was doing a publicity shoot and a practical Cartoon Bomb was accidentally handed to him to pose with instead of a fake one).
- Buster Keaton
- Lon Chaney (to the extent he did stunts at all)
- Burt Lancaster did his own stunts - not surprising considering he was a former circus acrobat prior to becoming an actor.
- Clint Eastwood did his own stunts.
- Jackie Chan, although this has faded as he's gotten older.
- Jack Nicholson fell down the staircase in The Shining because Stanley Kubrick couldn't make the double look as convincing.
- Tom Cruise is also known for doing his own stunts (for example, in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), but perhaps more impressively, is one of the few actors with the sheer athleticism to do all of his own extended sprinting, jumping, climbing, combat scenes, etc. which in many cases is the bulk of a stuntman's work.
- Michelle Yeoh always does her own stunts, which is why she is considered the Distaff Counterpart to Jackie Chan.
- Taylor Lautner does this a lot in his movies.
- Viggo Mortensen: Broke his toe kicking a helmet (which stayed in the final cut), lost a tooth, nearly drowned and did many of his own stunts while filming The Lord of the Rings. He was also described by legendary swordmaster Bob Anderson as "the best swordsman I've ever trained" (which is saying something in a 50-year career), and kept his sword with him at all times for the duration of the filming. Oh, and slept in the stables in order to bond with his horses, and bought said horses after the production finished. Years later, he stabbed himself in the leg while shooting Alatriste and kept filming.
- Basil Rathbone was one of the finest on-screen fencers of his day and didn't use stunt doubles - except in The Court Jester, where Danny Kaye was Flynning faster than Rathbone could keep up with.
- Christopher Lee is considered one of the finest swordsmen in film history, and had always done his own swordwork—even in the Star Wars prequels (though a stunt double was used for the jumping and running scenes). He also served as an uncredited stunt driver on The Man with the Golden Gun.
- Being 6-foot-5 usually required Lee to do his own stunts for the simple fact that most of the stunt men weren't tall enough to double for him.
- Bethany Hamilton was played by AnnaSophia Robb in her biopic Soul Surfer but did the surfing scenes herself. It is convenient to have a one-armed surfer playing the part of a one-armed surfer.
- Summer Glau is well trained in several martial arts, so doesn't require a stunt double for most of her fight scenes. Bigger stunts she'll take one, but she can convincingly sell beating up multiple opponents much bigger than her.
- Johnny Yong Bosch did his own stunts for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie after his stunt double got injured.
- Donald Sutherland insisted on performing his own stunts in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). This made director Philip Kaufman nervous because the catwalk at the pod factory was nearly 50 ft up in the air and there were very real explosions. In fact, Sutherland barely missed one of them; an extra, however, missed his cue and was injured by it.
- Bodybuilders such as Steve Reeves and Reg Park did their own stunts while working on the low budget sword and sandal Hercules films of the late 1950s and early 1960s in Italy because their large, muscular physiques made it nearly impossible for the low budget Italian film crews to find stunt men big enough to double for them. And of course, being athletes as well as bodybuilders it was usually cheaper to just let them do it themselves.
- James Cagney famously insisted on working his own fight scenes, having been a Boisterous Bruiser in real life.
- Harrison Ford didn't do all of his stunts in the Indiana Jones films, but tried to do as many as possible. It got to the point where they were concerned about him doing some too risky stunts that his stunt man (and good friend Vic Armstrong) had to tell him to let him do some stunts, otherwise he'd be out of a job. Ford also has one of the few stuntmen look a lot like him◊ and would also be used as a stand in during Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Harrison Ford was in the hospital.
- Jean-Paul Belmondo always did his own stunts, be it climbing on the rooftops of Paris, fighting (he was a boxer in his youth) or hanging on helicopters.
- Sylvester Stallone does most of his own stunts, and has over the years broken his ribs (jumping off a cliff multiple times in First Blood because he felt the shot didn't look "realistic" enough) gone into cardiac arrest (punched so hard by Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV that his heart actually stopped) and broken his neck (had has skull slammed into a fire extinguisher by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during The Expendables after asking the wrestler to "hit him for real").
- Hugh Jackman as Wolverine did many of his own stunts, enough that his list on injuries include clipping his right ear, stabbing himself above the left eye with own claws, hanging by his "wedding tackle" from a harness high in the air, and nearly breaking his own neck. After that last one his wife nixed any more risky stunts.
Jackman: "She goes 'You've got a stunt double. Stop. Is this a midlife crisis?'"
- Glenn Close insisted on doing her own stunts as Cruella DeVil for the live action remake of 101 Dalmatians and its sequel, which included getting dunked in molasses and cake batter in a heavy fur coat, because she wanted kids to know that it really was Cruella going through this punishment for what she was going to do to the puppies.
- Vincent Cassel, a famous capoeira and wing chung practitioner, did the fight scene of The Crimson Rivers by himself along with his trainer and gym pals, who played the bad guys. Unlike your typical Hollywood fight choreography, they actually played it full contact, resulting in Cassel being hurt in the face and his trainer getting a broken nose.
- The film Stick It, about gymnastics in the last days of the Perfect 10 scoring system. Most of the supporting characters/extras ranks were filled with NCAA and elite amateur gymnasts — including Olympians Mohini Bhardwaj, Allana Slater, and eventual 2008 Olympic AA champion Nastia Liukin — all of whom did their own stunts. Among the leading roles, Maddy Curley (Mina Hoyt), a former Division I NCAA gymnast, did her own stunts, as did Tarah Paige (Tricia Skilken), who actually is a Hollywood stuntwoman and moreover competed in the elite ranks of USA Gymnastics before heading to Hollywoodnote . In fact, Tricia's lovely illusion twist on beam featured in Tarah's national championships balance beam routine at one point.
- Scott Caan did all of his stunts in the WCW film Ready to Rumble.
- As the production for A New Hope was unable to afford stunt doubles, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher performed the swing over the Death Star chasm themselves.
- Willem Dafoe did his own stunts for Spider-Man.
- Chloe Grace Moretz did most of her own stunts for Kick-Ass, it should be noted that one of her trainers for the film was Jackie Chan.
- Bob Barker in Happy Gilmore, the crew was going to give him a stunt double for his fight with Adam Sandler but he insisted on doing it himself, earlier he had been trained in martial arts by Chuck Norris.
- The four main actors in Deliverance did their own stunts, mainly for insurance reasons. For example, that's really Jon Voight scaling a cliff.
- Rutger Hauer did his own stunt driving on The Hitcher.
- Verne Troyer had to do all his stunts as Mini-Me in Austin Powers because there are no doubles who are of his height, though having a stunt double background helped.
- Steve McQueen did his own stunt driving in The Great Escape, Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair. In the case of Bullitt, he made a habit of putting his head near the window so the audience would see that it was really him and not a stunt driver.
- The actors in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon almost invariably performed their own stunts. CGI was used to remove the wires holding them up.
- Keanu Reeves did most his own stunts and fights throughout John Wick. Notable exceptions include John getting hit by Kirill's Car Fu and getting thrown off the balcony in the Red Circle (and even then, the balcony scene was made of two shots stitched together into one; most of the fall was Reeves dropped with wires, with the actual impact done by a stuntman dropped from a much lower height).
- Peter O'Toole did his own stunts for Lawrence of Arabia. As a result, he was injured several times and was almost trampled to death.
- Christopher Reeve did most of, if not all, his own wirework for the Superman films. In addition, Margot Kidder did all her stunts during the difficult "car swallowed up by a crack on the ground" scene.
- Shaquille O'Neal did his own stunts for Steel, largely because they couldn't find a stuntman to match his size.
- Bruce Lee did his own stunts. He once boasted that he was only doubled three times in his career - those involved backflipping and acrobatics that were beyond his ability.
- Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston did their fight scene for The Big Country themselves.
- Clark Gable did his own stunts on The Misfits. It is believed that this contributed to his death from a heart attack soon afterwards.
- From the James Bond series:
- Sean Connery and Robert Shaw did their fight scene in From Russia with Love themselves.
- Roger Moore, who once joked that he did all his own stunts and all his own lying, did his own stunt driving in A View to a Kill, having been a truck driver in his youth.
- Timothy Dalton was keen to do as many of his own stunts as he could, whether it sliding down a hill in a cello case in The Living Daylights or running from a very real explosion in the climax of Licence to Kill.
- Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean did their fight scene in Goldeneye themselves.
- Brad Pitt and Eric Bana did their fight scene in Troy themselves.
- Chris Farley did his own stunts for his films, when they couldn't find a stunt double to match his size he insisted on doing them himself.
Live Action TV
- Jeffery Donovan
- in The Wild Wild West, Robert Conrad did almost all his own stunts. One stunt went horribly wrong, almost killing him and shutting down production of the series for 3 months. After Conrad recovered they picked up where they left off, and used the botched stunt in the final cut of the episode in question.
- David Boreanaz
- Lou Ferrigno did his own stunts in The Incredible Hulk, mostly because they couldn't find a stuntman who looked anything like him.
- In The Brady Bunch Hawaii episodes, the actor that played Greg did his own surfing scene, and scraped his feet on the sharp coral.
- Maggie Q of CW's Nikita always does her stunts.
- Hiroshi Fujioka, the first Kamen Rider actor did his own stunts... until an accident ended up breaking his leg. This was worked into the show with Kamen Rider 2, the first of the franchise's secondary riders, and from then on, to prevent another similar incident, most toku heroes henceforth were portrayed by suit actors. Having said that, while toku actors usually have very few unmorphed fight scenes in the show itself (to prevent the same thing that happened to Hiroshi Fujioka), in their movies, they often have plenty, and they mostly do their own stunts there.
- Played straight decades later by Minami Tsukui, who plays Yoko Minato/Kamen Rider Marika in Kamen Rider Gaim. Tsukui is a stuntwoman by trade, so she does her own fight scenes out of an in-costume, serving as the suit actress for Marika. This also holds true for Tsukui's appearances in Kamen Rider Double (as the Grasshopper Woman) and Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger (as Ashy, one of Deathryuger's Dark Chicks in The Movie).
- Amy Dumas (Lita) did her own stuntwork in her episode of Dark Angel, but unfortunately she injured herself doing it.
- Power Rangers
- As his castmates in Power Rangers Dino Thunder put it, there are stunt doubles and there is Jason David Frank. He did, however, become less eager to do high risk stunts after swimming against the rapids in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie while his stunt double just sat there happily collecting a paycheck after only doing the initial jump.
- All of the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers did their own stunts for at least the first 40 episodes. The actors were cast, in part, based on experience with martial arts, gymnastics or dancing. This includes footage of them actually in the suits. However, Amy Jo Johnson became a bit cautious after she caught on fire while filming the episode "Switching Places." Even after the first season though, the actors were still really hands on until Power Rangers in Space when the show decided to go SAG halfway through the season.
- In Power Rangers S.P.D. the actress that played A-Squad Pink was already the suit actress for B-Squad Yellow, and thus did her own suit acting as well.
- The male members of the Power Rangers RPM cast were really insistent that they do as much of the stunt work as they physically could, and by the end of the season Eka Darville was training alongside the Japanese stuntmen. He had gotten that good. Other actors with experience, like Johnny Yong Bosch, Dan Southworth, Mike Chaturantabut and Brennan Mejia, have also gotten opportunities to flex their skills onscreen.
- Looking at stills from the filming of the 50th anniversary episode, it seems that Matt Smith is doing his own stunts.
- Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor, did as many of his own stunts as he possibly could, even when he had to have his spine snapped back into place afterward.
- For one particular stunt in the TV series Wonder Woman - clinging onto a helicopter in flight - Lynda Carter convinced her stunt double to let her do it instead. Carter got chewed out for risking her life like that.
- Craig Charles made a point of doing all his own stunts on Red Dwarf. His co-stars joke that he's Made of Iron thanks to all the bumps he's taken over the years. In his memoir of the series The Man in the Rubber Mask, Robert Llewellyn describes Charles trying to make the stunts more dangerous, including at one point proposing to fall out of Starbug and land on his head, which director Ed Bye vetoed on the grounds that, while it might look amazing, it would also leave them with a dead actor.
Charles: Hey, Eddy, man, I can land on me head and no harm done. I'm a Scouser, you know what I'm saying?
Bye: Yes, I know what you're saying, and you're completely mad.
- On Hawaii Five-0, Alex O'Loughlin originally liked to do as many of his stunts as possible. However, he injured his shoulder on set in 2011 and became addicted to the painkillers he took for it, necessitating him going into rehab and Commander McGarrett being Put on a Bus for part of season three. After The Bus Came Back, he was much more sensible about what he did and what he allowed a stunt double to do for him.
- Hayley Atwell frequently did her own stunts in fight scenes for Agent Carter, though this tended to not end well for the stuntmen.
- Olivia Holt did her own stunts in Girl vs. Monster. Given that she is a cheerleader, former gymnast, and a trained martial artist, a stunt double was probably deemed unnecessary.
- Stay with Disney Channel movies, in Bad Hair Day Laura Marano did her own driving in the chase scene.
- Due to a lot of the leads having prior martial arts/ gymnastics training all but the most dangerous of stunts are preformed by the main actors from the Arrowverse most notably Stephen Amell (who really does use the Salmon Ladder in real life) and Caity Lotz (who incorporates her experience as a dancer into the Canary's fight style).
- Nathan Fillion did a lot of his own stunts in Firefly until he found out that his stunt double was not getting paid for most episodes because of it.
- Chloe Bennet did at least some of her own stunts on Agents Of Shield. One notable instance had her doing a fight scene with a broken arm and no cast.
- On Batman, Burt Ward was required to do his own stunts. This was partly because Robin's Domino Mask would make hiding a double's face harder, and partly because the studio wanted to save money by not having to pay another stunt double. Burt was a legitimate martial artist, but by the time the show was over, he had been hospitalized over a dozen times.
- Ray Park, famous for playing Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace.
- Zoe Bell was a stuntwoman before her appearance (As Herself) in Death Proof.
- Danny Trejo initially came to Hollywood as a stuntman and fight coordinator, after winning several boxing tournaments in the California State Prison system. However he rarely performs his own stunts, seeing it as glory-hunting which risks the whole production if he is injured.
- Patricia Tallman, best known for playing Lyta Alexander in Babylon 5, more often worked as a stunt artist and fight arranger. This included being the regular stunt and combat double for Nana Visitor as Major Kira in Babylon Five's rival series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Dan Southworth, who played Eric on Power Rangers Time Force, was earlier a stuntman for the series. Back in the day, Johnny Yong Bosch beat him out for the part of Adam on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. He went on to be a suit actor for the touring show. Southworth has went on to roles in projects like his series Divergence, Mortal Kombat Legacy and the Devil May Cry series while also continuing as a stunt actor.
- Grant Page, famous Australian stunt artist of the 1970s and 1980s, did the occasional acting role. Among his biggest is as the villain in Road Games, an Australian Duel copy in which his Car Fu talents came in useful.
- Within the Marvel universe, Simon Williams, AKA Wonder Man, performs his own stunts, thanks to his powers essentially giving him an indestructible body in the way that he doesn't even have a physical form.
- Inverted in the Star Wars parody Space Balls, where the stunt doubles appear as themselves in one scene.
"You captured their stunt doubles!"
- The Rocketeer: Neville Sinclair doesn't have one, and is shown doing a pretty elaborate swashbuckling scene. It is referenced later as Insult Backfire and a justification for his climatic showdown with the hero.
- In one Archie Comics comic, Archie and Reggie were movie stars—Archie was a stuntman, but had to cover up the fact Reggie didn't do his own stunts.
- In the Liv and Maddie episode "Space-Werewolf-A-Rooney," Liv decides to to forego the use of a stunt double while shooting Space Werewolves.
- Homestar Runner: In "stunt double," Strong Bad insists that he does all his own stunts. He's lying, of course: when he shows his scenes from the film Dangeresque II: This Time It's Not Dangeresque 1 as evidence, he has the least convincing stunt double ever: His younger brother Strong Sad (who looks nothing like Strong Bad) wearing a paper bag with Strong Bad's face crudely drawn on it.
Strong Bad: A stunt double?!? No way, Lucy! Only big wusses and lesser wimps use stunt doubles.
- In Nip and Tuck, Nip does all his own stunts—he trained as a stuntman.
- In 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Thunderbolt is a stunt dog—though he needs everything scripted.