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Stunt Double

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Actress Uma Thurman and stunt double Zoë Bell hanging out.

"You idiots! These are not them! You've captured their stunt doubles!"
Captain of the Guard, Spaceballs

When you want to film a dangerous stunt without risking your leads, you call in these people. You dress them up as the characters, give them a wig, and try to avoid having their face on camera.

There are also non-stunt doubles — for instance, the anonymous girl who played the back of Patty Duke's head in The Patty Duke Show whenever the cousins needed to be in the same shot together. Non-stunt doubles are usually called stand-ins or body doubles, and are also used to block and light scenes when the main actors are busy elsewhere, or in the case of child actors, are used to fill in for the main actor in some scenes (particularly those where the main actor's face isn't visible) as young performers could only work for a limited amount of time per child labour laws. The Talent Double appears in instances where the required action is simply too difficult for the actor: complicated ice-skating or dancing, for instance.

This is actually a lot more common than most would expect; though many films have actors appear to engage in highly athletic yet low-risk tasks - lifting and carrying moderately heavy objects, running for more than a few seconds, jumping over small obstacles, climbing fences, ladders and stairs - anyone who actually thinks about doing such things themselves will realize that all but the most athletic would tire very, very quickly, yet actors only appear strained, exhausted, or even out-of-breath when it would be dramatic. Such scenes are in many cases the bulk of a stuntman's work - especially on repeated takes.

Traditionally, female actors were often doubled by small male stunt artists, due to no woman with the required skills being available, or the stunts being considered "too dangerous" for a woman. This still happens on occasion, but the increasing number of female stunt artists makes it much rarer than in the past.

Nowadays it's common for stunt doubles' faces to be replaced with the stars' faces in post production. An early example is Event Horizon: they didn't realise until they sat down to edit the film that Laurence Fishburne's stunt double's face was showing clearly for a couple of seconds in the finale (in his defense, he was on fire). So, the star's face was crudely but effectively pasted over the double's. An earlier example of the same occurs in Jurassic Park. This has opened the door to more flexible use of stuntmen.

The inverse of this is, of course, No Stunt Double.

Supertrope of the Special Effect Failure version - Obvious Stunt Double.


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  • Stuntman Stan Barrett is also known as the driver of the Budweiser Rocket car, which unofficially hit 739.666 mph in 1979.

  • In the Silver Age comic book feature Jet Dream, Jet and her "Stunt-Girl Counterspies" worked as "Hollywood Stunt-Girls" when not on counter-espionage missions.
  • When he couldn't find work as an actor, Wonder Man put his invulnerability to good use by becoming a stuntman.


Real Life stunt doubles:

  • Erin Mackey, who played the back of Lindsay Lohan's head in Disney's 1998 remake of The Parent Trap.
  • Shelley Michelle, whose legs and body have been seen in numerous films under the guise of being someone else's, including Pretty Woman (as Julia Roberts — it's her body in the movie's well-known poster, and her legs in the "boot scene" at the beginning), The Prince of Tides (as Barbra Streisand's legs) and My Stepmother Is an Alien (doubling for Kim Basinger, especially in the dressing scene at the start).
  • Jackie Chan is a notable exception. He started off his career as a stuntman, and having become a lead actor since then, he still does many of his own stunts instead of enlisting a stunt double (although this is less common due to his age and past injuries as of late). Jackie Chan had stopped doing all of his major stunts by the time North American audiences knew who he was, though his publicists have continued the illusion.
  • Monique Ganderton, Canadian stunt performer and actress who has doubled for actresses Tricia Helfer, Bridget Moynahan, Daryl Hannah, among others.
  • Kane Hodder, before he landed the role of Jason in the latter Friday the 13th movies, was a well-known stunt double. After Friday, he's a well-known stunt double and stunt coordinator.
  • Various difficulties lead to stunt doubles and quick cuts being used in fights in Batman Begins (which almost suited the movie's style). In The Dark Knight, pains were taken to ensure that not only could they get long action shots, but that the actors could perform their own stunts if they wanted to. For example, in the scene where The Joker blows up a hospital, the explosion actually occurs with him where it looks like he is in the shot—inside a bus outside the building; and Christian Bale, aside from fighting, also did wire work on top one of Chicago's skyscrapers.
  • Michael Papajohn, American actor and stuntmen who has done stunt work on Starship Troopers, Money Talks, Enemy of the State, and Starsky & Hutch.
  • Most of the James Bond actors did some of their own stunts, except for Roger Moore. However, Moore was a former trucker, and used this to great effect with a fire truck in A View to a Kill.
    • Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan claim to have multiple scars from their stuntwork. Brosnan in fact busted his ankle during filming the pre-titles sequence for Die Another Day, requiring production to be shut down for a week while he had surgery. Craig forced the production of both Spectre and No Time to Die to be shut down for weeks as well due to leg injuries (knee in the former, ankle in the latter).
    • While filming You Only Live Twice, Mie Hama (Kissy) was unable to film the scenes where she was swimming (some sources say she didn't know how to swim, some say she was ill). Sean Connery's then wife, Diane Cilento, volunteered to film the scenes, disguising herself with a black wig.
    • Renowned French stuntman and stunt coordinator Rémy Julienne did most of the car stunts of the 1980s films of the franchise. The apex of them has to be the tanker truck "skiing" in Licence to Kill.
    • The 007 in the first Bond Gun Barrel is actually stunt double Bob Simmons, who worked in most of the series until A View to a Kill. Amusingly, Sean Connery actually takes over the gunbarrel in Thunderball... and the cold open afterwards has him fighting Simmons, who played SPECTRE agent Jacques Bouvar.
  • Dana Hee has done stuntwork on Species, Mortal Kombat: The Movie, among other films and tv shows.
  • Robo Vampire has, among other things, "the most obvious stunt double ever". A blonde woman's stunt double is a short dark-skinned guy with short grey wig and a moustache.
  • According to an unpublished story for SPIN Magazine that was released online in 2009, nearly every scene of Wesley Snipes in Blade: Trinity is his stunt double. Snipes was allegedly unhappy with the director and script, so he only fulfilled the bare minimum his contract required and was only on set to shoot close-ups and dialogue scenes. None of the cast or crew have verified the story, however, so take it with a grain of salt.
  • An equine variant in The Black Stallion. Cass Ole was a champion showhorse and exceptionally valuable, so his owners restricted what he was allowed to do on camera. When the Black is shown galloping full-out, for example, it's always a double...and the double may or may not be an Arabian.
  • In Soul Surfer, AnnaSophia Robb plays real-life surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack. While there's a regular stunt double who performs the surfing scenes prior to the attack, the producers had a hard time finding a one-armed stunt double who could surf, so they cast... Bethany Hamilton. Incidentally, this means that the scenes of Hamilton riding the huge wave in the end competition were performed by Bethany herself.
  • Steven Seagal is notorious for this in his direct-to-video films, where noticeably younger and lighter men dressed like him are in almost every shot where he isn't in close-up or talking. One particularly notorious example is the obvious switch to a double to get into a car. Film Brain even started a counter.
  • Epic Movie employed this for laughs when Aslan (a middle-aged white man) is suddenly replaced by a young Asian guy in a bad wig for a fight scene.
  • During filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Harrison Ford injured his back and was out for several weeks. His stunt double, the legendary Vic Armstrong, was very similar in appearance to Harrison (even for a stunt double) and the two could be mistaken for brothers. Steven Spielberg continued work on the film by using Vic to perform the actions filmed from behind and then later filmed a few token close ups of Harrison to keep the illusion. The resemblance was so great, Ford's son would approach and talk to who he thought was his father before discovering it was Armstrong.
    • Armstrong also doubles Ford in Blade Runner in the scene where Deckard is searching Leon's bathroom and finds the snake scale in the tub.
  • In one scene in Men in Black, Agent K drives the car up the walls and onto the ceiling of a tunnel, and J, not wearing a seatbelt, flips over—and in a rather infamous blooper, briefly gets a stunt-double-induced Race Lift.
  • Another infamous stunt double Race Lift happens in KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, where a few scenes make clear Ace Frehley's double is Black.
  • Soviet comedy/drama Two Arrows: A Stone Age Murder Mystery has a rare case of a non-stuntman doubling for stuntman. A cavemen tribe is being attacked by another tribe with faces covered, in the heat of the battle one attacker falls off a cliff on a sex-starved widow, she tears his clothes off (offscreen), he runs away in fear (shot from the back). All attackers were played by stuntmen. The guy falling off a cliff didn't want his family to see him filmed naked. Rather than have the scene cut, one of the actors volunteered to replace him in the "running away" part.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day one was used for certain parts of the motorcycle chase when the T-1000 tried to crush the T-800 between the tow truck and the concrete barrier barely missing.
  • When filming Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen needed a double to do all his shots for a few weeks after he had a heart attack. Rather than shut down production until he recovered, the crew elected to film as much as possible with a double standing in for Sheen (the double having his back turned to the camera) and then doing the close-ups after Sheen was well enough to return. This, and much more from the Troubled Production, is shown in the making-of documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse.

Films about stunt doubles in-universe:

  • In Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, Toons are able to create dopples, exact copies of themselves that normally last for a few minutes before crumbling into dust. Those Toons who work in the performing arts use dopples as stunt doubles - who cares if a safe is dropped on someone who will dissolve once the take is over anyway?

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Fall Guy was a series about a stunt double, who was also a bounty hunter on the side. Its Theme Tune plays tribute to the guys who make the stars look good, but never get to kiss the girl. Ironically, the lead in this series, Lee Majors, used a stunt double himself.
  • Secret Garden: In-Universe, Ra-im works for the Action Sports Company as a stuntwoman, usually doing difficult action sequences. When male lead Joo-won falls for her her, he arranges for the department store that he owns to be used as a set for action movies, just so he can see her more often.
  • The original Star Trek is somewhat infamous for using Obvious Stunt Doubles.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation used stunt doubles whenever the cast had to do anything more strenuous than sit in a chair. The stunt doubles weren't always completely obvious in standard definition, but the blu-ray releases in full high definition make a majority of them stick out quite noticeably.
  • Parodied in Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story when Tenkaichi realises he forgot to warn Fujii she was going to be attacked, Banzo tells him to calm down as the stunt double would be the one fighting not her. The scene changes to Fujii, who is watching her stunt double fight the attacker. She takes over when the attacker makes a run for it.
  • Stargate SG-1: Siler, the technician who is known for always managing to get injured in increasingly ridiculous ways, was played by the stunt coordinator for the series.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Even with steps taken to hide the doubles' faces, the switches are still sometimes obvious. Joss Whedon points this out in the commentary for the "Hush" episode:
      "Oh, looks like Buffy's got her fightin' boobs on!"
    • They had it easier with Nicholas Brendon, who had a twin brother who did stunt work (and played as his double during "The Replacement", where Xander gets split into two parts of his personality).
  • Patricia Tallman, best known as telepath Lyta Alexander of Babylon 5, is also a stuntwoman. In an overlap with what was at the time seen as B5's main rival, she spent time as Nana Visitor's regular combat and stunt double in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Kamen Rider started using suit actors (stuntmen wearing the hero and villain costumes) back with the original series, after an infamous incident where Hiroshi Fujioka broke his leg when a stunt went wrongnote . Kamen Rider Double spoofs its own usage: in a web-exclusive short, Kirihiko "interviews" the bad guys' cat Mick, eventually getting so mad that he attacks it, at which point Mick is replaced by an obvious plush. Then Mick changes into his monster form and gets revenge, at which point Kirihiko is replaced by a dummy in a suit with a photo of his face taped to the head, all while "he" continues to scream in pain.
  • The Blackadder the Third episode "Sense and Senility" had Baldrick mention that his father played second codpiece in Macbeth, worn by Macbeth in the fight scenes. To this, Blackadder asks "So he was a stunt codpiece, then?"
  • This creates some problems for Power Rangers. They always use a large number of Super Sentai's stunt team each year. The problem lies with Rangers always using a multicultural Five-Token Band, whereas the Sentai stunt team is almost exclusively Japanese men. Sometimes this is painfully (or hilariously) awful. In a recent episode of Samurai, Kevin (who's African American) jumps into a battle and suddenly becomes Asian.
  • Smallville occasionally uses stunt doubles. Fans poked fun at a scene where Tom Welling's double clearly has a beard.
  • One episode of Ghost Writer featured a deranged stunt-woman who was terrorizing the actress who'd become famous by her hard work.
  • Doctor Who uses them often, with varying degrees of success.
    • "The Chase" is notorious for having William Hartnell's stunt double, Edmund Warwick, appear onscreen with his face clearly visible for minutes.
    • Perhaps the most prolific stunt double was Terry Walsh, who doubled for both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.
      • Walsh ended up playing the Doctor in many scenes in "The Sontaran Experiment" as Tom Baker broke his collarbone while recording. The cinematography of the serial is therefore rather weird, especially by Doctor Who standards, showing Tom mostly in head-and-shoulders closeup with his scarf covering his neck brace, and Terry in extremely long shots where the Doctor's face is pointedly avoided.
      • Due to the dangerousness of the garment, the Fourth Doctor also had a 'stunt scarf' which was much shorter than the main one used. Both Tom Baker and Terry Walsh can be seen wearing the stunt scarf in various scenes where it would be dangerous to wear the full-length one, and both can be seen on screen at once in "The Android Invasion" (when the Doctor confronts his Evil Knockoff). At one point Tom Baker successfully petitioned the costume designers to get the stunt scarf sewn onto the main scarf to extend it to a monstrous 19'1".
      • In "The Deadly Assassin", it's quite easy to spot Terry in the fistfight scene in the river - Tom Baker's fine hair hangs down almost straight when wet, but Terry's synthetic wig repels water and remains in Quirky Curls.
    • Another prolific stuntman was Stuart Fell, whose small size meant he often doubled for the Doctor's companions, including Katy Manning and Louise Jameson, in a wig and dress. It's also he who very nearly falls into a swimming pool while playing a Sontaran in "The Invasion Of Time".
  • Eric Christian Olsen (Marty Deeks) in NCIS: Los Angeles has his own brother Daniel as a stunt double... ironically enough Daniel married Daniela Ruah, who plays Kensi!
  • The Mandalorian:
    • The title character, played mainly by Pedro Pascal, has multiple stunt doubles. Among others, gunslinger Brendan Wayne (grandson of John Wayne) specializes in shootouts and hand-to-hand combat; Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau previously directed him in Cowboys & Aliens. Martial artist Lateef Crowder tackles the most physically demanding stunts and fight scenes; he previously worked with Pascal on such projects as Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Backstage, all of Mando's performers collaborate to keep his movement consistent. Wayne and Crowder also doubled for Pascal in The Book of Boba Fett.
    • Lauren Mary Kim substitutes for several actresses during fight scenes, including the Armorer's actress, Emily Swallow.
  • Ghostwriter: In the "Who's Who" arc, Rob explains to Gaby how all the impressive stunts that Lana Barnes did in her movies were actually done with camera tricks and performed by her stunt double. Said stunt double, Roberta Halton, turns out to be the one who's been sending her threatening notes, as she's bitter that Lana Barnes got all the fame and glory that she feels she deserved.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for Fatboy Slim's song "Weapon of Choice", Christopher Walken does most of his own dancing (he actually trained as a tap dancer early in his career), but the flips, the more strenuous jumps and at least some of the wire work was done by a stunt double who was thinner and hadn't gone gray yet. It's filmed, edited and choreographed quite cleverly to disguise it, but it becomes obvious once you know what to look for. The 4K remaster released in 2021 also makes it easier to see when the double's face is blurred.
    • Fatboy Slim himself was supposed to do the wire work, but his wife went into labour the same weekend the video was filmed.
  • Lindsey Stirling has a $40 violin used for scenes in rain, rolling in dirt, etc.; as a good violin costs thousands, this saves it getting ruined. She's named it Ingrid.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • EMLL and LLI Luchador Black Man served as a stunt double for El Santo during a movie starring the latter. Black Man's greatest success in Lucha came off the heels of the Santo-Los Misioneros de la Muerte feud, where the resulting spike in tercias matches lead to Los Tres Fantasticos (Black Man, Kung Fu, Kato Kung Lee) to become the top draws in Mexico following Santo's retirement.
  • WCW had Sting use a stunt double for his inferno match with Vampiro.
  • Former Altar Boy Luke Hawx insists he wasn't chasing AJ Styles for fifteen years out of any sense of resentment, no no, his career as a stuntman has kept him too happy for those kind of feelings.
  • Trinty, mostly seen in former NWA members Cyberspace, Ohio Valley and TNA, had the gimmick of a wrestling stunt woman.
  • Leva Bates has a surplus of props and outfits from being the stunt woman of her own (nonexistent) film studio(in reality she and rival Andrea worked for Universal).
  • To emphasize how much of a loser The Intellectual "Savior Of The Unwashed Masses" Damien Sandow had become since cashing in "Money In The Bank" on Monday Night Raw and failing, he ended up being reduced to a stunt double...of The Miz.
  • This is Danger Jameson's gimmick in Excellence Professional Wrestling.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The somewhat obscure tabletop RPG It Came From The Late, Late, Late Show (which, as its name might indicate, is all about the genre of hilariously bad movies) allows its player characters to call in stunt doubles who then take damage in their stead as one way to avoid being 'written out', although the doubles' ability to soak up abuse is limited in turn.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the definitively non-Canon and Played for Laughs 'movie marines' included 10 pt 'stunt doubles' that would absorb a single hit for a marine before dying, but were just as hard to kill as the regular kind.

    Video Games 
  • Bug!: This is how the "Stunt Bug" Invincibility Power-Up works, since Bug is actually an actor in a movie and the levels are part of said movie. When Bug takes this powerup, he's replaced with his stunt double who's invulnerable and destroys any mooks he touches.
  • The characters in Chroma Squad were stuntmen before deciding that hey, they could do their own Sentai show.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Roxy Rocket, who was added to Batman's Rogues Gallery in the final season of the show, was a stuntwoman who became so obsessed with seeking out dangerous stunts for the sheer thrill of it that she became uninsurable. She then turned to robberies involving dangerous escape routes, and ultimately began calling Batman to her robberies because she found she loved the thrill of trying to escape him.
  • In addition to the Star Trek example, Family Guy parodied incredibly obvious stunt doubles in another episode: Stewie jumps out a window, and the next scene shows a grown man in a (terrible) Stewie costume falling into a dumpster before one last cut shows the real Stewie climb out of it.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "A Star Is Bored", Daffy Duck gets a job as Bugs Bunny's stunt double, getting all the Amusing Injuries in Bugs' stead. Interestingly, almost none of the scenes Daffy is doubling for happen in a regular Bugs Bunny cartoon. Why, it's almost as if they were written just to screw over Daffy!
    Daffy: MAKEUP!!
  • On the TV version of Garfield: His 9 Lives, one of the lives is as a stunt double for Krazy Kat. It was very short.
  • The pilot episode of Sheep in the Big City has a scene where Sheep swings on a thread and hits a wall. The scene cuts from sheep jumping off a building before cutting to a low-quality clip of stuntman in a sheep suit hitting the wall and falling painfully to the ground.
  • An episode of Spongebob Squarepants has the gang filming a Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy movie. One scene has Mermaid Man preparing to fight before the film cuts to Sandy dressed as Mermaid Man doing the fighting.
  • An episode of The Loud House called "Fool Me Twice" has Luan's siblings and parents hire stunt doubles to get out of being pranked by Luan on April Fools' Day. The differences regarding most of them is subtle, but Lynn Sr.'s stunt double is muscular and has a full head of hair, while Lincoln's stunt double is a Miniature Senior Citizen. Unfortunately for the Loud family, Luan turns out to be smarter than she looks, and she uses the stunt doubles against them.


Spectacular Stunt

So spectacular it required stunt doubles.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (12 votes)

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Main / StuntDouble

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