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When you want to film a dangerous stunt without risking your leads, you call in these people. You dress them up as the characters, give them a wig, and try to avoid having their face on camera.

There are also non-stunt doubles -- for instance, the anonymous girl who played the back of Patty Duke's head in The Patty Duke Show whenever the cousins needed to be in the same shot together. Non-stunt doubles are usually called stand-ins or body doubles, and are also used to block and light scenes when the main actors are busy elsewhere. The Talent Double appears in instances where the required action is simply too difficult for the actor: complicated ice-skating or dancing, for instance.

Nowadays it's common for stunt doubles' faces to be replaced with the stars' faces in post production. An early example is Event Horizon: they didn't realise until they sat down to edit the film that Laurence Fishburne's stunt double's face was showing clearly for a couple of seconds in the finale (in his defense, he was on fire). So, the star's face was crudely but effectively pasted over the double's. An earlier example of the same occurs in Jurassic Park. This has opened the door to more flexible use of stuntmen.

Examples of Stunt Double include:


Advertising

  • Stuntman Stan Barrett is also known as the driver of the Budweiser Rocket car, which unofficially hit 739.666 mph in 1979.

Comic Books

  • In the Silver Age comic book feature Jet Dream, Jet and her "Stunt-Girl Counterspies" worked as "Hollywood Stunt-Girls" when not on counter-espionage missions.

Film

  • Erin Mackey, who played the back of Lindsay Lohan's head in Disney's 1998 remake of The Parent Trap.
  • Shelley Michelle, whose legs and body have been seen in numerous films under the guise of being someone else's, including Pretty Woman (as Julia Roberts -- it's her body in the movie's well-known poster, and her legs in the "boot scene" at the beginning), The Prince of Tides (as Barbra Streisand's legs) and My Stepmother Is An Alien (doubling for Kim Basinger, especially in the dressing scene at the start).
  • Parodied in Spaceballs by having the heroes use their stunt doubles for a Decoy Getaway: "You've captured their stunt doubles!" Bonus points for having Princess Vespa's double be a man.
    • A man with a moustache and chomping a cigar, just for extra Rule of Funny.
  • Jackie Chan is a notable exception. He started off his career as a stunt man, and having become a lead actor since then, he still does many of his own stunts instead of enlisting a Stunt Double (although this is less common due to his age and past injuries as of late).
    • Jackie Chan had stopped doing all of his major stunts by the time North American audiences knew who he was, though his publicists have continued the illusion.
      • Actually, he stopped doing his own stunts partly due to his age and partly due to the fact that he's suffered many injuries, including a few to his head, that it's not advisable for him to do risky things any more.
      • And, as anyone who sees his blooper reels can attest, he was still doing major stunts until relatively quite recently. And, to end this discussion, insurance issues also stop Jackie from performing many stunts in the US, he's contractually obligated to [not] do so!
      • Many of those "bloopers" are scripted stunts, performed by other stuntmen. Or, after they get film of a stuntman hurting himself, they edit in film of Jackie, acting like he's hurt, to give the impression that he did the stunt himself.
  • Kane Hodder, before he landed the role of Jason in the latter Friday the 13 th movies, was a well-known stunt double. After Friday, he's a well-known stunt double and stunt coordinator.
  • Various difficulties lead to stunt doubles and quick cuts being used in fights in Batman Begins (which almost suited the movie's style). In The Dark Knight, pains were taken to ensure that not only could they get long action shots, but that the actors could perform their own stunts if they wanted to. For example, in the scene where The Joker blows up a hospital, the explosion actually occurs with him where it looks like he is in the shot--inside a bus outside the building; and Christian Bale, aside from fighting, also did wire work on top one of Chicago's skyscrapers.
  • Most of the James Bond actors did some of their own stunts, except for Roger Moore. However, Moore was a former trucker, and used this to great effect in A View to a Kill.
  • The So Bad It's Good movie Robo Vampire has, among other things, "the most obvious stunt double ever". A blonde woman's stunt double is a short dark-skinned guy with short grey wig and a moustache.
  • According to an unpublished story for SPIN Magazine that was released online in 2009, nearly every scene of Wesley Snipes in Blade Trinity is his stunt double. Snipes was allegedly unhappy with the Director and script, so he only fulfilled the bare minimum his contract required and was only on set to shoot close-ups and dialogue scenes. None of the cast or crew have verified the story, however, so take it with a grain of salt.
  • Perhaps somewhat ironically, the 1978 Burt Reynolds movie Hooper, about stuntmen, features a very obvious stuntman, when Hooper is riding a horse.
  • Averted in The Silent Age Of Cinema. Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Senior were just a few of the many actors who did their own stunts. And when you see what those stunts were...
  • An equine variant in The Black Stallion. Cass Ole was a champion showhorse and exceptionally valuable, so his owners restricted what he was allowed to do on camera. When the Black is shown galloping full-out, for example, it's always a double...and the double may or may not be an Arabian.
  • In Soul Surfer, Anna Sophia Robb plays real-life surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack. While there's a regular stunt double who performs the surfing scenes prior to the attack, the producers had a hard time finding a one-armed stunt double who could surf, so Hamilton ended up being the stunt double for the fictional version of herself post-attack.

Live-Action TV

  • The Fall Guy was a series about a stunt double, who was also a bounty hunter on the side. Its Theme Tune plays tribute to the guys who make the stars look good, but never get to kiss the girl. Ironically, the lead in this series, Lee "The Six Million Dollar Man" Majors, used a stunt double himself.
  • The original Star Trek is somewhat infamous for using stunt doubles who looked nothing like the actual actors and making no effort to hide their faces.
    • The obvious use of stunt-doubles is (like absolutely everything else on the screen) a target for nitpicking. An episode of Family Guy reflects most people's view of the importance of this as ultra-nerd Neil Goldman delivers a lecture on instances of William Shatner using a stunt double on Star Trek to his bored classmates. With tragic inevitability, someone on Wikipedia has in fact pointed out that that particular episode didn't feature any stunt work so the Family Guy writers are wrong (!)
  • On Heroes, the lead actors do their own stunts whenever possible.
  • From Stargate SG-1, Siler, the technician who is known for always managing to get injured in increasingly ridiculous ways, was played by the stunt coordinator for the series.
  • Even with steps taken to hide the doubles' faces, the switches are still sometimes obvious. Joss Whedon points this out in the commentary for the "Hush" episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

  "Oh, looks like Buffy's got her fightin' boobs on!"

  • Patricia Tallman, best known as telepath Lyta Alexander of Babylon 5, is also a stuntwoman.
  • Kamen Rider W plays it straight (as one of the Five-Bad Band is the Right-Hand-Cat Mick), but also spoofs its own usage. In a web-exclusive short, Kirihiko "interviews" Mick, eventually getting so mad that he attacks it, at which point Mick is replaced by an obvious plush. Then Mick changes into his monster form and gets revenge, at which point Kirihiko is replaced by a dummy in a suit with a photo of his face taped to the head, all while "he" continues to scream in pain.
  • An episode of Blackadder the Third had Baldrick mention that his father played second codpiece in Macbeth, worn by Macbeth in the fight scenes. To this, Blackadder asks "So he was a stunt codpiece, then?"
  • This creates some problems for Power Rangers. They always use a large number of Super Sentai's stunt team each year. The problem lies with Rangers always using a multicultural Five-Token Band, whereas the Sentai stunt team is almost exclusively Japanese men. Sometimes this is painfully (or hilariously) awful. In a recent episode of Samurai, Kevin (who's African American) jumps into a battle and suddenly becomes Asian.
  • Smallville occasionally uses stunt doubles. Fans poked fun at a scene where Tom Welling's double clearly has a beard.

Tabletop Games

  • The somewhat obscure tabletop RPG It Came From The Late, Late, Late Show (which, as its name might indicate, is all about the genre of hilariously bad movies) allows its player characters to call in stunt doubles who then take damage in their stead as one way to avoid being 'written out', although the doubles' ability to soak up abuse is limited in turn.
  • In Warhammer 40000, the definitively non-Canon and Played for Laughs 'movie marines' included 10 pt 'stunt doubles' that would absorb a single hit for a marine before dying, but were just as hard to kill as the regular kind.

Western Animation

  • In addition to the Star Trek example, Family Guy parodied incredibly obvious stunt doubles in another episode: Stewie jumps out a window, and the next scene shows a grown man in a (terrible) Stewie costume falling into a dumpster before one last cut shows the real Stewie climb out of it.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "A Star Is Bored", Daffy Duck gets a job as Bugs Bunny's stunt double, getting all the Amusing Injuries in Bugs' stead. Interestingly, almost none of the scenes Daffy is doubling for happen in a regular Bugs Bunny cartoon. Why, it's almost as if they were written just to screw over Daffy!
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