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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.
- 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.
- 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.
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, every toku hero henceforth was 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.
- Amy Dumas (Lita) did her own stuntwork in her episode of Dark Angel, but unfortunately she injured herself doing it.
- As his castmates in Power Rangers Dino Thunder put it, there are stunt doubles and there is Jason David Frank. He has done his own stunts, but became less eager to do high risk stunts after he pulled off the infamous rapids cliff dive in the Power Rangers Turbo movie.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Batman, Burt Ward did his own stunts, partially because Robin's Domino Mask made hiding the double's face a lot harder than for Batman, and partially because Burt found out the stunt doubles were getting paid more than him. It helped that Burt was a legitimate martial artist. By the time the series ended, he had been hospitalized over a dozen times.
- 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.
- 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 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.