We all can agree to the fact that action movies are incomplete without stunts. High-speed vehicle chases, Jumping from aeroplanes, jumping from buildings, and cool fight scenes give us the adrenaline rush that we want. Some of us cannot deny the fact that we have, at some point, tried to imitate these stunts and ended up falling and hurting ourselves badly. There are, however, some actors who have pulled some great stunts flawlessly without needing a stunt double and left us awestruck.
Here are some actors who refused to use stunt doubles and performed their stunts on their own:
Stunts performed by Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible franchise prove that the actor does not need reinforcements when it comes to performing stunts. While filming the Ghost Protocol, Cruise was seen scaling the Burj Khalifa skyscraper. He also had to fall 4 stories and run down the surface of the building using special harnesses and cameras, successfully pulling off a move known as the Australian rappel.
The sequel Rogue Nation witnessed Cruise hanging from the side of an Airbus A400M that soared to a height of 1000 feet at a speed of 100 Knots for 6 to 8 minutes. The plane took off, completed a circuit, and landed safely, all with the legend secured to the side with a thin wire that was later erased in post-production. What’s more surprising is that the scene required 8 takes to get it right.
The movie had a scene where Tom had to open an underwater vault. Although the vault was created using Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), he still had to film the scene underwater. Which involved him jumping off a 120-foot ledge into a tank filled with 20 feet high water. He then had to film takes that required him to hold his breath for 6 minutes.
He underwent a special training program meant for military personnel with freediving expert Kirk Krack which involved him training his body to lower his standard heart rate which would result in him using less oxygen. Not only would he sit underwater during the shoot but also move around and swim.
In Edge of Tomorrow, the stunts performed by the actor were tough, but the exoskeletal suit made it worse. The suit could have been added using CGI but Cruise was wearing a real suit. One version weighed around 85 pounds, the other weighing around 130, owing to the addition of a sniper rifle and a missile launcher on the back. He wore that suit for up to 6 hours a day sometimes.
Owing to the fact that the makers could not find a stunt double that matched the actor’s unique physique, The Terminator has performed a lot of stunts without professional help throughout his career. It’s no surprise that he was always up for such challenging tasks because of his well-built physique. It was his ability to perform such stunts that gave him a start in his career in Hollywood.
While shooting for Conan the Barbarian, Arnold trained with a broadsword for two hours every day for three months. He also had to learn a lot of climbing techniques, learn how to fall safely, roll and jump as high as 15 feet in the air. The horse riding and fight scenes in the movie were no less. Sources say that the dogs used while filming the scene where the actor was being chased by them were legitimately dangerous and had attacked their trainer while filming. Arnold had to run for his life while shooting that scene.
He also refused to use a stunt double while filming “The Last Stand”, because he wanted everything to “look and feel as real as possible”. His work in the movie brought shame upon his co-star Johnny Knoxville because he was bad at doing stunts. Arnold, after Conan, was seen jumping out of planes shattering windows, wrestling with wolves and a lot more. ” The Governator” is now 74 years old but still packs a pretty punch.
Jackie Chan, during the 1980s, was the spearhead of martial arts in the cinematic industry. He has worked with a lot of different filmmakers in Hong kong churning out films that lead to the popularization of such films. He gained a lot of reputation as a daredevil and is also known for choreographing his stunts on his own which were nothing but perfect. He has performed quite a few death-defying stunts in his career and has also suffered a lot of painful injuries in the process.
Tons of knockouts during fight scenes that an average person might not have survived, broken ankles, eye damage, broken sternum, head injuries, deep gashes, muscle damage, etc. are to name a few, but nothing could stop the legend from making a comeback. He performed one of the most memorable stunts of his career while filming Police Story, which was released in 1985. He portrayed officer Kevin Chan, who sets on a mission to clear his name after he is framed for murdering a bad cop. At the end of the movie, the actor is seen on top of a mall watching the villain escape.
In order to catch him, Chan slides down a pole covered with lights that burst while he slides down and then breaks through a glass pane. The scene was visually stunning, but things went south pretty soon while filming it. The bulbs used while filming were real, which heated the pole pretty quickly before the stunt. This resulted in Chan suffering from second-degree burns on his entire palm. This was probably one of the most painful stunts that the actor has ever performed.
Gaining fame in the 90s, Keanu has made a great impression when it comes to action movies. He is known for doing his stunts on his own since 1994 in Speed. He trained himself in complete secrecy because director Jan De Bont did not want to risk him doing such dangerous stunts. When the day of filming finally came, Keanu insisted on doing the stunt on his own, executing it perfectly and almost giving Jan a heart attack.
When Keanu was promoting John Wick: Chapter 3 on Today, He revealed that he was behind 90% action on the screen. Taking into consideration the intensity of the stunts, the number does seem pretty high. Most of us have seen him undergo tactical shooting courses while shooting for John Wick: Chapter 2. He along with the entire cast had to undergo an intensive 3-month martial arts training with choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping while filming for The Matrix.
His desire to authenticate the action on screen is the reason behind his commitment to perform these stunts himself.
Starting his career in the film industry with Rocky, Sylvester Stallone quickly became a household name and transformed into one of the best action stars in movie history. Always willing to sacrifice his body for a good action scene, he has a lot of injuries to prove the fact, some of which can send chills down the spine. The 75-year-old legend, while filming Rocky IV, had to make a trip to the ICU after getting punched by Dolph Lundgren.
“When I do The Expendables I break my neck, my spine, and dislocate shoulders. I fell on my back and had to put some metal in there, so if I’m squeaky, then deal with it, it’s not my shoe, it’s my back” said the actor in an interview after sustaining grievous injuries while filming Expendables. He also said that he grades the quality of a film by the “intensity of the injury”.
Edited by Anupama Roy