Hey actors! Today I’m excited to have Richard Lippert, a professional stunt drive, as a guest writer on the blog!
He brings years of experience to his stunt work, and was recently signed with Ford RBA Scottsdale as on-camera talent. You can also catch Richard performing Friday nights at Chaos Comedy Improv on “The Collective”.
Today he speaks on your relationship to stunt work as an actor. Enjoy!
(Photo Credit: Byron Medina Photography)
OK, the question you asked was, “What three stunts should an actor know how to do?”
That’s a great question and I will give you both the short and long answers. Short answer first.
The actor’s basic skill set should include the ability to:
1. Give and receive a punch, realistically and without actually hitting or being hit.
2. Do a vehicle drive-on to a mark and a drive-off. It’s harder than it looks because in a film it needs to be done with precision and the same way every time.
3. Be able to credibly handle a weapon – pistol, rifle, sword etc. The actor needs to appear comfortable with the weapon unless the script calls for something else.
There are schools that specialize in the in each of these disciplines offering basic and advanced training. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to attend to learn to do the basics correctly.
For the longer answer. Other than the few things above, actors shouldn’t plan to do their own stunts no matter how “cool” or exciting it may seem. We all know that Tom Cruise does most of his own stunts. But, he gets to do them because it’s usually his movie and he can therefore do pretty much anything he wants. That doesn’t make it a good idea. As good as he may be, and Mr. Cruise is actually a very good stunt performer, if he gets hurt the movie will essentially shut down until he heals; they can only shoot around him for so long. That means there’s a big crew that needs to get paid while the actor gets well. There’s also the fact that the delay in production means many of the other actors and crew will run into commitment conflicts that could cause them to be dropped from new projects. That hits them in the wallet. And, if you’re not the star of the movie and get hurt, they’ll most likely just drop you and hire someone else anyway. Worse, you might have something disfiguring happen (like falling on your face) that ends your career. Oh, and the insurance underwriter will probably block you anyway.
Another factor is consideration for the entire community of professional stunt performers whose job it is to take the risks in the film. Every time an actor does his or her own stunts, that’s a job that is taken from a professional stunt performer. That can add up to some very serious money they miss out on. And obviously, taking a job away from someone to stroke your ego is not a good way to become popular. The stunt people exist to assume the risk and know that if they become injured the studio can just get another stunt person to step in. No delay to the production.