Q&A with Sponsored Stunt Performer Rick English
This month we wanted to let you know a little bit about one of our long standing patients who has had a fantastic career as a stuntman since 2001 and has been in huge block buster films such as the Mission Impossible series, Batman, Bond and Bourne films and has been nominated at the Stunts Oscars on several occasions for breath taking stunt scenes such as the infamous fight scene in Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, where 2 men fight in a corridor as it turns (See above).
1. How and when did you get into being a Stunt Performer?
When I was really young I wanted to be a stuntman after watching The Fall Guy on Tv and watching movies like Hooper and Viva Kneivel! After leaving education, I moved to London to work as a personal trainer. I never lost my interest in working in movies and whilst working in a gym in the West End as a martial arts instructor and personal trainer, I met a lot of people involved in the film industry. I was asked to perform several fighting roles in movies and from there began training to join the British Stunt Register…
2. What was your first stunt?
My first job after joining the register was on a movie called “Three Blind Mice”. I was doubling young actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (future Oscar winner) on a motorcycle with “Emilia Fox” on the back. - Well, it was actually her stunt double some of the time!! We did a bit of fast driving through traffic on a wet road culminating in several “near misses” with vehicles. I was obviously pretty nervous as I just wanted everything to go right but it all went really well, I loved every second and I knew I had made the right career choice…
3. What has been your favourite stunt and why?
I’ve got to say that I was so pleased to be given the chance to do the motorcycle crash on Mission Impossible 5. It was always gonna be one of those that was a bit unpredictable. You can have a general idea of what’s gonna happen based on past experience but there are so many variables that no two crashes are ever going to be completely the same. I remember puling wheelies and stoppies down the road just before the crash to psyche myself up for what I was about to do - then it was just a case of doing it and seeing what happened. I was pretty happy with how it looked and a still of the stunt was actually used on the poster for the movie and in a lot of the advertising...
4. What have been your worse injuries due to being a Stunt Performer !?
Often the worst injuries we have are from training and overuse - similar to athletes. I’ve broken a couple of minor bones. Cuts and bruises are literally daily!
About 10 years ago I had a bad fall whilst working on one of the Batman movies. This was pretty much the start of my lower back problems and my long relationship with Hertfordshire Sports Clinics!! Even small falls and impacts can cause cumulative long term damage to the body so I try to keep on top of everything by training hard, stretching and regularly visiting the osteopaths to keep everything balanced and working as it should.
5. What is the most challenging part of your career?
Staying fit and injury-free!! Haha. I actually find the preparation part of a movie more challenging than the actual filming. I believe that the highest chance of getting injured occurs whilst testing out new stunts, repeating and modifying fights etc. By the time stunts reach the stage of actually filming, everything has been worked out and most of the potential problems have been addressed.
6. What is most rewarding about your career?
I was really happy to receive a Taurus World Stunt Award in 2011 for my part in one of the fights in the Christopher Nolan movie “Inception”. There is no category for stunts at either “The Oscars” or the BAFTA awards so the Annual World Stunt Awards are really as good as it gets for stunt performers. All the winners are voted for by fellow stunt performers around the world and so held in high regard in the industry. Honestly though, the most rewarding part for me is seeing my work on the big screen.
7. What do you do in your spare time when you are not on set?
To be honest I’m pretty lucky a lot of what I like to do in my spare time is exactly what I have to do to keep myself prepared. Every morning I will go to the gym to train strength, fitness and flexibility. Every day that I’m not working I will be out on bikes or in cars, having fun and honing my skills.
8. How much holiday do you get being a stuntman ?
Depends how often you get injured!!! When you first start out it’s so hard to turn work down so you end up taking pretty much everything you are offered. These days, after 16 years in the industry and with my kids growing up fast, I try to set aside time for family holidays and trips with friends etc…
9. What’s the biggest misconception about being a stuntman?
I’m sure that a lot of people think of stuntman sits in his trailer on set on Hollywood drinking whisky, surrounded by beautiful girls. If only!
A lot of hard work, time and preparation goes into each and every stunt and action sequence. The performers and actors will be rehearsing for weeks or possibly months before a fight scene is shot, to ensure that everything runs smoothly during shooting and is as safe as possible. For me, during shooting or rehearsal I will usually go training immediately before or after work, even though we could possibly be shooting up to 14 hrs a day. I just like having that time to myself and feeling like I’m keeping my skills up to scratch and my body in as good a condition as possible.
I think that another common misconception is that stuntmen are risk-takers and daredevils. Although most of the guys are fans of extreme sports, fast cars and bikes etc, at work everything is carefully planned so that everyone gets to go home safely and there are as few injuries as possible. The last thing that we want on set is anyone who would act impulsively and put themselves or someone else at risk.
10. What advice would you give anyone wanting to become a stuntman?
Great career. Look into it really hard and make sure that it really is what you want to do. It’s a huge commitment financially and in terms of giving up huge parts of your life. It’s definitely not for everyone but I have no regrets at all and for me the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Visit Rick English's website to see more