It’s no secret that one of the main reasons audiences love action movies is the insane, gravity-defying, death-defying stunts sprinkled throughout them. Sure, it’s an added bonus when the character is particularly interesting, or there are a few surprising plot twists that the audience didn’t quite anticipate. However, at the end of the day, audiences want to see actors leaping off of skyscrapers, running through flames, plunging into ice cold water, driving cars off cliffs, and more. The bigger and more unbelievable the better!
Now, while audiences may love seeing crazy stunts, actors don't exactly sign up for risking their lives just to entertain audiences for a chase scene. That’s where stunt doubles typically come in. Stunt doubles are individuals trained to perform exactly those insane routines, making it seem as if the star in the film is doing it all themselves. All the guts, none of the glory – but, most stunt doubles are in it because they love the thrill of the job.
However, while a large majority of actors do take advantage of having a stunt double, there are a few determined to do everything themselves. Whether they simply want to give themselves a challenge, or whether they think it’ll benefit their character because it provides more authenticity, they’re willing to dangle off buildings and plunge into simulated danger, all to entertain audiences.
Here are 10 celebrities who are known to do their own stunts.
10 Kristen Stewart
It’s not that impressive to say that Kristen Stewart did her own stunts in the Twilight film series, because she wasn’t exactly leaping off of tall buildings throughout those films. However, it is pretty cool that she managed to do her stunts when starring in Snow White and the Huntsman. Now, Stewart isn’t exactly known for her muscular physique, so the fact that she pulled off all her own stunts in an action movie is admirable. According to an interview Stewart did with Hollywood Life, she did everything from jumping off cliffs to battling in complex, armor-clad fight scenes, all on her own.
9 Harrison Ford
It might be tough to picture Harrison Ford doing his own crazy stunts nowadays, as he’s getting up there in age. However, in his younger years, he was absolutely determined to do all his own stunts. Ford is perhaps best known for his role as Indiana Jones in the Indiana Jones series, and he apparently did almost physical stunt all on his own, from dangling from helicopters to crashing cars. He was so stubborn, that apparently his stuntman, Vic Armstrong, could only convince Ford to leave some of the most dangerous stunts to the professionals by telling him he wouldn’t get paid if he did the super dangerous ones. That’s dedication to a role!
8 Chloë Grace Moretz
It’s pretty impressive when fully grown adult men manage to do their own stunts, but when a pre-teen girl manages to perform all those crazy stunts for the cameras? That’s an incredibly impressive feat. While she’s slowly becoming a red carpet staple in Hollywood, back when she won the lead role in Kick-Ass, Moretz was a young actress trying to prove herself in the entertainment industry. Apparently, she didn’t want to be known as a delicate flower who needed a stunt woman to help her, so she ended up performing most of her stunts herself – after, of course, training for three months with a professional crew.
7 Matt Damon
Matt Damon has had a huge variety of roles, from introspective drama protagonists to small guest starring roles in sitcoms. However, one of his most notorious roles is Jason Bourne in the Bourne movies. Bourne does a ton of death-defying stunts in an attempt to evade the villains, and it wasn’t Damon’s stunt man doing those stunts – it was Damon himself. He didn’t always find it easy – and, in fact, has commented that the stunts involving water made him quite nervous – but he almost always attempted to do Bourne’s stunts himself. Given that he’s not exactly known primarily as an action hero, it’s an admirable effort.
6 Jason Statham
Over the years, Jason Statham has made a bit of a reputation for himself as the next big action superstar. Part of the reason is that he’s been doing all his own stunts from his very first role, and people definitely notice his physical ability on camera. Apparently, according to an interview with CBS, one of his first action roles didn’t have the budget for a stunt man, or any kind of special effects, so he just did it all alone. Then, people began to expect him to do all his own stunts, so he kept pushing himself to do crazier and crazier stunts – whatever his character required! He’s had a few close calls, according to some co-stars, but he keeps bringing it film after film.
5 Theo James
When he snagged one of the lead roles in the films bringing Veronica Roth’s popular Divergent series to the big screen, Theo James immediately catapulted to superstardom. He was eager to prove he earned his spot, he wasn’t about to let some stunt man do all those tough stunts on his behalf. According to veteran stuntman Garrett Warren, “Theo did all the fighting himself. 100 percent, no stunt double.” Given the amazing shape he’s in, it’s not too surprising that he opted to get down and dirty – we’re betting James will go on to become the next action superstar.
4 Daniel Craig
When an actor gets an iconic role like James Bond, a role that other men have played before, you know a little bit of ego comes into the equation – they must want to play the role better, to be more physically fit, than the previous actors who had the role. Daniel Craig is apparently no different – according to the actor, “it was important to me that I do as many of my own stunts as possible for authenticity. I wanted to be seen jumping from crane to crane, physically exerting myself.” In fact, the crane jumping stunt (from hundreds of feet above the ground, no less) that he performed in Casino Royale is universally thought to be one of the best Bond stunts in the series’ history.
3 Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie has become somewhat notorious for her ability to play strong female characters who totally kick ass and take names. I mean, she was Lara Croft, for crying out loud. However, if you thought that a strong, powerful stunt double was stepping in for a delicate A-Listers, think again. According to Simon Crane, her trainer for films like Salt, Jolie does about 99% of her stunts all by herself. She accomplishes the impressive feat through a lot of hard work and training – for example, to play Evelyn Salt, she did two-hour sessions of Muay Thai and Krav Maga three or four times a week.
2 Viggo Mortensen
The Lord of the Rings film franchise may not be a typical gun-shooting, fire-blazing action movie, but there was definitely a fair bit of stunts involved in Middle Earth – and Viggo Mortensen certainly wasn’t calling in any stuntmen when he was perfectly capable of doing the stunts himself! In fact, he took it so seriously that, after getting one of his teeth knocked out during a fight scene, he had it fixed over lunch break so that he could get right back to fighting. And, if that wasn’t enough, he also performed insane stunts on horseback in Hidalgo. Is there anything the man can’t do?
1 Christian Bale
Everyone knows that Christian Bale takes his roles incredibly seriously, and he has become known for either putting on considerable amounts of weight or shedding crazy pounds in order to get in character for his roles. However, he gets into character by doing more than just transforming his appearance – he also does the majority of his own stunts. While playing Batman in various films, Bale did most of what Gotham’s hero was supposed to do himself – including gravity-defying stunts atop a Hong Kong skyscraper. While he may hand over the most dangerous stunts to his trained stunt double, he definitely likes to get his hands dirty.