Heads up: we’re about to totally shatter your idyllic belief that your favorite movie stars perform their own stunts. If you don’t want your dream bubble to be burst, go ahead and click away now because we’re going to drag some of your favorite action packed celebs into the light and expose them hanging out with their stunt doubles.
That’s not to say that no celebrity ever does their own stunts! That’s certainly not true! Actually, in our day and age when stunts have been made safer than ever, it’s fairly common to see celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Christian Bale, and Matt Damon doing their own stunts… but it’s never a risk taken lightly. Just because you don’t see the safety harnesses and belays in the final cut doesn’t mean they weren’t there and edited out. Even the riskiest of stunt people take all precautions when approaching their high-stakes work.
These days, celebs actually tend to use stand-ins more than they use stunt doubles. A stand-in is someone who does just that — he or she stands in for an actor. It’s a lot of stress for Hollywood’s finest to do dramatic scenes and then have to pay attention when someone is monologuing at them, so they get a stand-in to replace the back of the expensive actor’s head. Very often, you’ll see A-List actors relaxing with their stunt doubles and stand-ins, and it just looks like a line up of Doppelgangers or like a Where’s Waldo game featuring a famous actor. So let’s check out fifteen of Hollywood’s finest hanging out with their weird lookalikes:
15. Chandler Riggs in The Walking Dead
Adult actors have a lot of freedom and choice when it comes to shooting their own stunts, especially when filming a television series rather than a movie. Because of lower production values per episode and the inability to ALWAYS have a stunt double on standby for each and every actor, directors constantly put stunts in the hands of actors: “Do you want to do this, or should we bring in a double?” Child actors, unfortunately, are not afforded that much choice. If there’s a stunt, producers will almost certainly bring in a double. That’s why Chandler Riggs (who plays Carl on The Walking Dead) has had a stunt double for years: Emily Brobst. The twenty-nine-year-old woman may be small in stature, but she’s one hell of a good stunt double who’s also worked on Terminator: Genisys, Django Unchained, and Godzilla. She’s the tough chick behind the whiny Carl Grimes that makes him look so badass.
14. Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
Anyone that knows Johnny Depp and just how crazy he can be both on and off the set knows that he would be the sort of actor to impulsively sign up to pull his own stunts. And he totally is! If you watch any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you’re likely noticing that Johnny Depp is doing some of his own tricky stunt work, especially when it comes to sword fights (though most of that was a directorial decision — almost all of the main cast did most of their own sword fights). But Depp didn’t do it all, especially after some of the severe injuries he’s incurred while doing stunt work (like paralyzing pain in his back and a broken hand that required immediate surgery). Tony Angelotti, who was Depp’s double in Dead Man’s Chest, almost suffered a fatal injury in filming, so we’re glad Depp didn’t do it all.
13. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgement Day
WHAT?! Even Arnold Schwarzenegger had a stunt double?! BUT WHY?
We understand your angst and confusion, fans. Arnold is a pretty killer guy, and we’re just talking about these days. Back in his heyday? Around the time he was shooting Terminator 2: Judgement Day? Man, that guy was ripped and badass, and you knew from looking at the poster that you wouldn’t want to mess with him! So why did he use a stunt double? You have to understand the risks involved when performing each and every stunt. Leaning out of a moving car to fire a gun loaded with blanks is very dangerous, even in a very controlled environment. Even simple stunts, like a punch thrown, can be very dangerous if the wrong coordinator is in charge or if actors are being careless. To preserve the integrity of the film and ensure Arnold wouldn’t get hurt before the movie was close to being wrapped, they used stunt doubles all the time.
12. Alyson Hannigan in Buffy
It’s been a while since we’ve seen any of these lovely ladies, hasn’t it, Buffy fans? On the Joss Whedon vampire hunter show Buffy, Alyson Hannigan played Buffy’s dear friend, Willow. As the show went on, Willow got herself into more and more trouble (as any successful protagonist’s friends would). When shooting one episode in particular, Alyson Hannigan got to hang out with not only her regular stunt double, but also her stunt double — and her vampire alter-ego and her stunt double! What a weird coffee break that must have been…
But obviously, there were a lot of stunt doubles hanging around on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The action-packed show had Sarah Michelle Gellar fighting in just about every episode and plenty of cast members came and went to be her opponents though Willow wasn’t often the source of such drama, so it was quite odd to see Alyson hanging out with that many Doppelgangers!
11. Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises
Here are two badass guys that both insist on doing as much work as possible when they’re cast in films. Christian Bale has been known to make dramatic shifts in weight and personality for his roles, just as he did when he dropped below one hundred pounds for The Machinist or when his temperament shifted on the set of Terminator Salvation. Tom Hardy has also been known to dedicate his entire body to each of his roles, whether that role is Bronson, Bane, or Fitzgerald. So when you get the two together and find them a pair of stunt doubles, you know they aren’t going to give up their fights easily. In this scene alone of Dark Knight Rises, we can see Tom and Christian giving tips to the professional stuntmen as they gear up to do the quick-punches sequence in which Batman breaks Bane’s mask and Bane proceeds to punch a chunk out of a marble column.
10. All Of The Dwarves in The Hobbit
That’s right: ALL OF THE DWARVES! Ever wonder how they managed to do all of the editing work, making dwarves seem smaller than hobbits, which are way smaller than wizards but only kind of smaller than humans? It’s a lot of scaling to be thought about! So they had the cast of dwarves that we all know and love (you know, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, etc.) and then there was a second cast of dwarves that were… well, dwarf-sized. This second cast was the one you would see running about when scale was much more important, such as when they’re in Lake Town or when they’re fleeing battle from Uruk-Hai monsters. A lot of instances, though, editors had to work hard to shrink down the scale of the normal cast as they did in the Lord of the Rings films, which takes a lot of time with green screens and editing software.
9. Mark Ruffalo in Now You See Me 2
You might be under the impression that Mark Ruffalo has to deal with stunt work a lot. Well, that’s not really the case. Mark struggled a lot in his younger career and expressed complaints that he kind of got typecasted as the “unlikely male romantic interest;” you know, the sort-of-attractive friend who ends up getting the girl after the hot guy is a jerk? That was Mark in tons of movies, from Just Like Heaven to 13 Going on 30. Nowadays, he’s finally gotten into more action-packed and serious roles — however, he doesn’t get a chance at a bunch of stunt work. As The Hulk in the Avengers films, for example, most of his stunt work is CGI. While working on Now You See Me 2, he tried to do most of his own stunt work for the long fight scene but got to work with his wonderful stunt team to create the best combat scene possible. He’ll hopefully have even more stunt work in the future!
8. Karen Gillan in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Karen Gillan is relatively new to the game. Having only been active and popular throughout Hollywood in the past seven years or so since her role in Doctor Who as Amy Pond, she’s still seeming to struggle with finding her niche in the industry. She’s gone from nerdy sci-fi to quirky action movie (Guardians of the Galaxy) to spine-tingling horror (Oculus) to a more-than-likely awful comedic romp (the upcoming Jumanji sequel, Welcome to the Jungle). In her latest flick, she’ll be playing a crop-top wearing adventurer tromping through the jungle with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black. With leaders like those, you know her character will get in trouble and she’ll need some stunt doubles. Here, she’s pictured with both her stunt double (who is standing on the right side) and her stand in, Emily (on the left). While we can’t say we have high expectations for the film, we’re certainly excited to see these ladies strut their stuff.
7. Colin Firth in Kingsman
When they’re both in costume, it’s kind of hard to tell which King is the real king, isn’t it? Colin Firth, pictured here on the left, was hanging out with his stuntman that worked with him on Kingsman. Please make a big, fat note to yourself that we are NOT talking about The King’s Speech, a very and entirely different movie, but Kingsman: The Secret Service, an action-packed thrill ride that starred almost every great British actor you know of. Colin was nervous going into stunts, as he’d never “done no sports and had no physical background whatsoever.” Stuntman Rick English helped him through the movie and did some of the most complicated stunts for him, though Colin did his best to memorize certain fight sequences that were manageable to someone less acquainted with stunt work. He confessed that the only time they let Rick stand in for him and do the stunt was when insurance companies intervened!
6. Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man
When it comes to other Spidermen, Tobey Maguire didn’t do many of his own stunts. In fact, he rarely did any of his own stunts. If his work wasn’t digitally created on a computer, then there was another man behind the mask doing his work. But the same is not the case with Andrew Garfield! The actor trained extensively to be in shape to portray Spiderman, focusing on balance work and core stability training so that he would be able to take the mask off for some of his coolest stunts. But he couldn’t do it all. William Spencer, a professional skateboarder and stunt double and to the left in the picture above, was Andrew’s double for both Amazing Spiderman movies. The two look incredibly alike, all the way down to their ridiculous haircuts though when it comes down to it, we think William can rock the Spidey-suit a lot better than Andrew can.
5. Michael Douglas in Ant-Man
If you saw Ant-Man, you know that most of the movie is about Michael Douglas being a bit too old to be doing stunt work anymore. The plot of the movie includes key points such as Hank Pym (Douglas’s character) being the originator of the Ant-Man suit, but he’s a bit too old and out of the game to be running around playing superhero, so he recruits convicted criminal Scott Lang to take over the suit for him and save the day. So why did Michael need a stunt man at all? Mike Runyard (who has doubled for Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, and Christopher Walken) got to fill in for Michael as Hank Pym on rare occasions, but it was always in front of blue screens when other effects were being added in (for example, the flashback scenes with Wasp). The two are actually great friends and golfing buddies in real life!
4. Bruce Willis in Any Bruce Willis Movie Ever
Look. Bruce Willis is known primarily as a star of action films. When you think of his name, movies like Die Hard, G.I. Joe, and The Fifth Element spring to mind. But why is Bruce known for these movies? We’re not entirely sure. He’s not exactly in great shape, he’s actually kind of overweight, and he’s not such an amazing actor that we’re dying to watch his performances. Don’t get us wrong; we love Bruce! Who doesn’t love Bruce!? But his niche in the industry is kind of odd, especially given that he’s not the stereotype he portrays. That means that every time he’s in an action film, he’s got stunt doubles galore surrounding him. So on each and every one of his movie sets, there are a bunch of bald guys running around with smug smiles on their faces and giant glasses covering their eyes! How confusing must that be?!
3. Christopher Lee in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Christopher Lee was an amazing actor (may he rest in peace). He was probably best known for his roles in Lord of the Rings (as Saruman) and in Star Wars (as Count Dooku), though his career stretched back for over half a century. This guy had been acting since the 40s; that is dedication! But a man of his age can hardly be expected to do all of his stunts himself, especially when those stunts involve lightsaber battles and moderately intense gymnastic moves. However, Christopher Lee did do a shocking amount of his own work and boasted the most sword fights in front of the camera (a record we believe he still holds to this day). His double did most of the fighting, though, and Lee’s face was digitally put over the double’s in the final film. We love Lee and all of his skillful work on the screen, and he is certainly missed.
2. Chris Pratt in Jurassic World
If you’ve seen any of Chris Pratt‘s work on Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy, or even his low-key stuff in Parks and Recreation, you know that Chris is not at all afraid of getting his hands dirty. The actor is a very daring and caution-to-the-wind type who isn’t afraid to try anything at least once. That said, Jurassic World had some pretty magnificent stunts in it. You think that was really Chris running from a dinosaur? Well it wasn’t (though for other reasons… the dinosaurs had stunt doubles, too). Tony McFarr was Chris’ stunt double in the dino-mite movie, and the two actually worked so well together that Tony came on to help Chris in shooting Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The two may not look like identical twins, but they certainly look like they could be brothers. Honestly, we’re just as excited to see Tony’s work in the upcoming Guardians movie as we are to see Chris’!
1. Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter
Daniel Radcliffe had a lot of stunts when he was acting as The Boy Who Lived, and, as we mentioned before when talking about Chandler Riggs and other child actors, kids always need more stunt-people around. Daniel’s stunt double was David Holmes. The two filmed the first six movies of the series together, delightfully sharing the role of the titular character, but while filming Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part One, David was thrown against a wall, and he fractured his neck. He sadly suffered irreparable injuries that have paralyzed him for the rest of his life — and he’s only 25. “Dave was always an incredibly important person in my life,” Radcliffe opened up about the tragedy. “I would hate for people to… God, ‘oh there’s Dan Radcliffe with a person in a wheelchair.'”