Being a stuntman offers the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with the stars while being a straight-up badass, but what is it actually like to help Keanu Reeves soar in The Matrix or get punched by Robert Downey Jr?
Nick McKinless, a stuntman who has worked on a huge array of movies — from The Dark Knight to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — has lifted the curtain on the industry in an star-studded AMA that gives us an insight into how stunt work really works.
I have rummaged through the whole illuminating account so you don't have to, and below are the best bits.
Anne's Enviable Ass
Want to know how to get Anne Hathaway's enviable leather-clad rump from The Dark Knight Rises? Well, McKinless is responsible for the training regime and helped "shape it." "But how?" I hear you cry. Unfortunately, it was all down to everyone's least favorite exercise. You guessed it, McKinless:
Made her SQUAT!
But, what's it like making a famous actor do some deeply unpleasant exercise? According to Nick, Anne took it like a champ:
Yes I trained her early on for that role ['The Dark Knight Rises'] before going onto another film. She is a sweetheart and works her ass off! I really liked worked with Annie (as she likes to be called).
Oh, and she also smells like:
Flowers and strawberries.
Why do people seem to dislike her so much, again?!
Brad Pitt's Ponys
When asked what the scariest stunt he has ever performed was, McKinless pointed the finger at a scene where Brad Pitt shot him off a horse:
Sometimes it's the little ones! I actually rarely get scared...there's no point. But on 'Troy,' after Brad Pitt spears me off a horse, 30-50 horses galloped past me. I was hoping that they all missed trampling me! A few just clipped me. Car stunts are always pretty butt clenching too!!!
Just your average day at the office then!
Keanu: A Career Highlight
Remember how insane The Matrix was in terms of stunt work? Well, McKinless was responsible for most of that and he says working with Keanu Reeves was one of the best bits of his career, despite not getting any screen-time:
You don't see me really. I rehearsed TONS of the key action and was one of the key riggers for the films. They were long shoots and much of the work was very experimental back then. Ground breaking. A highlight of my career for sure. I was often working with Keanu, putting on his harness and making sure he was safe. Also got on well with Carey Anne Moss, super nice lady!
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A Fiennes Man
But who was the best actor to train? Surprisingly, it wasn't a powerhouse such as Hugh Jackman or The Rock, instead the slight Ralph Fiennes wins the prize for his dedication and down-to-earth attitude:
Ralph Fiennes without question. He is off the chart with his intelligence, humble, kind and always outworked every program and challenge I set him. The man is a machine. Not mega strong but based on his genetics and age, he is phenomenal. One of the greatest actors of our time and becoming a great director too.
Who knew Voldemort was such a sweetheart!
Tom Cruise: Ultimate Badass (Seriously)
We all know Tom Cruise can't get enough of doing his own stunts, but if you were guilty of thinking this must be a bit of a joke among seasoned stunt men, think again. McKinless solidifies Cruise's status as a genuine badass by naming him the most capable star he has ever worked with:
Without a doubt the most willing and capable actor I have worked with (and there are many) is Tom Cruise. I worked with him on 'Edge of Tomorrow' and although he had a full time stunt double (Chris Gordon) who rehearsed everything for Tom, Tom did 99% of the stunts on that film and on every other AND he is now over 50!! The guy is driven like no one I have ever seen. Meticulous and brilliant.
Don't Mess With RDJ
If you ever bump into Robert Downey Jr. in a dark alley, you should probably run tbh:
On 'Sherlock Holmes' though the idea was to HIT full bore time and time again to get the opening sequence. RDJ is a trained Martial Artist and he really CAN HIT HARD!!!
What?! Nick Cage Is Weird?!
Yes, Nick Cage is totally "out there," but he is also a total dude apparently, so that's nice:
"He is the archetypal movie star! What a dude!! Out there in every respect but a professional."
Pam The Powerhouse
But who is the fittest, strongest and most dedicated woman that McKinless has worked with? The simple answer was none other than:
Maybe she really could have dragged you out of the turbulent waves after all!
Read more about Nick's ridiculously epic career on his website HERE.
Which movie stunt is your all-time favorite?