While famous actors get paid good money, many of them certainly earn it. Working long hours during filming that include months at a time away from family and friends, hours each day on a make-up chair, memorizing lines, and transforming themselves into another person each day they perform, is just a part of the job.
Some actors, particularly those who are method actors, throw everything they have into their roles, literally trying to ‘become’ the person they are portraying. For many of these actors it means jumping into the role of stuntman as well as show or movie lead. Others have a more cautious take on stunts and fighting, whether it’s due to injury, family obligations, or comfort in personal skills, they decide that stunt work should be performed by those who have perfected that craft, something dramatically different than acting itself. Here are 10 actors who refuse to do their own stunts, and another 10 who are game or even enjoy the process of performing stunts as part of a role.
20 Game For Stunts: Chloe Grace Mortez
Some actors like to start young when it comes to stunt acting. When 13-year-old Chloe Grace Mortez was cast to play Hit Girl in the comic book adapted film Kick-Ass she got training right away. Mortez trained with Jackie Chan’s former stunt team so she could fight and perform most of the stunts in the film herself.
19 Refuse Stunts: Ryan Reynolds
Once upon a time Ryan Reynolds used to do his own stunts, but those days are over. Since 2012, after fracturing his vertebrae while doing his own stunts for the film Safe House, the actor retired from stunts. Reynolds said, "I remember the doctor sitting in the office — it was about the seventh time I had been there that year — and he writes on a prescription pad, rips off the note and it reads 'Stuntman. Point taken." The star now uses a team of four stuntmen for high action films, like Deadpool.
18 Game For Stunts: Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise has liked to take it to the ‘Danger Zone’ ever since he made it big as an actor in the 1980’s. Cruise hasn’t allowed age to slow down the stunts he attempts. In Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol the actor wore special gloves to cling to the windows of a building, and in the film Rogue Nation he performed a stunt where he hung off an airplane during take-off.
17 Refuse Stunts: Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson has specific rules about what he’ll do as an actor in terms of a role. Neeson, known for many action roles, will fight but he won’t attempt other stunts. Neeson says, “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a very long career. I do my own fights, I don't do my own stunts, and there is a difference." Neeson has worked with stunt double Mark Vanselow for 20 years now for many of his harder hitting roles.
16 Game For Stunts: Sarah Michelle Gellar
One of the reasons that Sarah Michelle Gellar was hired to portray Buffy in the hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was her background in martial arts including Tae Kwon Do, kickboxing, boxing, street fighting, and gymnastics. Those jumps up from the ground, all Sarah Michelle Gellar. While Gellar did a lot of her own stunts, she also worked with two stunt women who were able to step up when things were too complex or dangerous for Gellar to attempt.
15 Refuse Stunts: Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock used to perform her own stunts, then in 2010 something changed. After adopting her son she decided it just wasn’t worth the risk. Bullock wondered, “What if I should fall and die on this one? Would it be a smart move?" During the 2013 police action comedy The Heat, Bullock felt some relief in being able to go and grab a leisurely cup of joe with co-star Melissa McCarthy while the stunt professionals dealt with potentially dangerous filming.
14 Game For Stunts: Jason Statham
Some celebs continue to do stunt work, even after they’ve had a close call. Known for doing his own stunt work, a driving stunt completed by Statham during the filming of The Expendables Three nearly killed him. The car went off the road and the actor ended up in The Black Sea. He told Today, "I went over the edge. The brakes failed. It's the closest I've ever been to drowning. I've done a lot of scuba diving; I've done a lot of free diving. ... No matter how much of that you've done, it doesn't teach you to breathe under water. ... I came very close to drowning. It was a very harrowing experience."
13 Refuse Stunts: Samuel Jackson
Samuel Jackson currently has nearly 200 roles under his belt and is known for being adaptable and easy to work with, along with dropping a lot of F bombs. When asked about his refusal to perform stunts the actor said, “Why would I do that? If you want a long career you don't do all that stuff. You're gonna get hurt. Something's gonna happen. You're gonna twist an ankle, break a nail, something. No, you do as little as you can."
12 Game For Stunts: Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie has always been a physical actor who is committed to her work. This means the star performs many of her own stunts. While filming the film Salt, the actor even spent some time in the hospital recovering from a head injury after one of her own fight scenes. Let’s hope she was careful while filming the upcoming sequel to Maleficent.
11 Refuse Stunts: Drew Barrymore
For years Drew Barrymore worked hard for her roles and her stunts, notably training for her Charlie’s Angels performance. The actor finally threw in the towel on stunts while filming the Netflix zombie comedy, The Santa Clarita Diet. While rehearsing a scene where Barrymore jumps on a man’s back and attacks him, she fell from around six feet and hit her head on a concrete floor. The show creator said he remembers thinking, "That's it. We've killed Drew Barrymore". Barrymore had a concussion and thankfully nothing more than that, but has since said, "I will never do my own stunts again. When you don't have kids, you're not thinking about your mortality. Now that I have children, I will be sitting on the sidelines."
10 Game For Stunts: Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart may be best known for her role of Bella in the Twilight series, but she wasn’t willing to sit on the sidelines and wait for someone to ‘save her’ in real life. For her role in Snow White and the Huntsman, Stewart, who was afraid of riding a horse, not only learned to ride but also how to perform some more complicated stunts while riding.
9 Refuse Stunts: Nathan Fillion
Nathan Fillion handled his own stunts while staring in the short-lived series Firefly but changed his perspective when he begun working on the show Castle. After some permanent damage to his knee he gained appreciation of stunt professionals and their ability to earn a living doing what they do best. He said stunt workers, "get paid by the stunt. Somebody's job — I don't want to mess with that." The stunt actor and Fillion look-alike he works with most often is named Paul Anthony Scott.
8 Game For Stunts: Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves is now in his 50’s and he’s still taking on stunts like a pro. In the 1990’s Reeves performed his own stunt in the hit action film Speed when he jumped from a car onto a bus. The actor also did fight training for The Matrix and John Wick. During the infamous club fight near the end of John Wick, Reeves performed all his own fighting stunts despite being quite ill with the flu.
7 Refuse Stunts: Lucy Lawless
Xena the Warrior Princess won’t do her own stunts; she works with other professionals who will fight for her. When asked if she was performing her own stunts on the show Ash vs. Evil Dead she said, "Are you crazy? I never did. If you damage your star, everybody's out of work." That doesn’t mean she hasn’t suffered some injuries due to the physicality of her roles. Over the years she’s had loosened teeth, black eyes, and some knee and back injuries, and that’s without taking on more involved stunt work.
6 Game For Stunts: Viggo Mortensen
From horseback riding to rigorous fight scenes involving sword fighting and more, Viggo Mortenson reportedly completed his own stunts while portraying Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings series. The star also insisted on using a real steel sword for his fights, opting out of the lighter (and safer) rubber or aluminium swords that other actors were using.
5 Refuse Stunts: Jackie Chan
Once the king of stunts, Jackie Chan has retired from performing his own stunts. The star, who nearly died when filming Armour of God in 1986, when a broken piece of his skull pierced his brain after a jump gone wrong, knew it was time to stop. Chan said, “Honestly, I'm not young anymore. I just don't want to risk my life to sit in a wheelchair, that's all."
4 Game For Stunts: Harrison Ford
Indiana Jones and Han Solo have the authenticity of Harrison Ford who likes to do a lot of his stunt work. More recently in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ford insisted on completing most stunts himself. This makes us all wonder, which stunts Ford is going to be completing when the next edition of Indiana Jones comes out in 2021, now that Ford is approaching 80 years old.
3 Refuse Stunts: Brendan Fraser
When Brendan Fraser was young and staring in The Mummy trilogy, he completed his owns stunts. He joked with GQ that he was, "put together with tape and ice." His committed approach had taken its toll. Thanks to his stunt work, the star disappeared from the big screen and underwent many operations for injuries acquired on the job including a partial knee replacement and a laminectomy (spine canal surgery). Today Fraser leaves the stunts to the stunts people and focuses on acting plain and simple.
2 Game For Stunts: Christian Bale
Christian Bale is not afraid of heights or performing his own stunts. In addition to undergoing drastic physical transformations for his roles in terms of weight loss, gain, and physical fitness, he also steps up to the task of a stunt man. In The Dark Knight the infamous method actor stood at the edge of a 110-storey building to perfect the ultimate realism for a role.
1 Refuses Stunts: Emelia Clarke
Almost as famous as Emilia Clarke is her stunt double Rosie Mac, who took on some of the more complicated and difficult filming scenes for Game of Thrones. The model, dancer, singer, and stunt double got her role after she was unable to audition (because she had a modeling job that day) but posted a photo on social media of herself complete with long blonde hair, much like that of Clarke’s character.
Sources: Looper, MSN, AMC, Ranker, Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Today, Fame 10, Elite Readers