Hollywood Heroes: The 10 Most Impressive Stunt Performers In Film History
Stunt performers are literally the hardest working men and women in showbiz when it comes to action sequences in Hollywood’s most incredible, heart-thumping films. Barely known to the common public, these unsung heroes of the big screen consistently risk life and limb (as well as other body parts) jumping off skyscrapers, racing 100 miles per hour on motorcycles through crowded city streets, and running from aliens’ laser-guided missiles in order to keep the blockbuster money-making machine churning. If it weren’t for stunt men and women, action films would consist of Tom Cruise lightly jogging on a treadmill while a puppy licks an ice cream cone. So, we think it’s time to honor the men and women who have provided that edge-of-your-seat action for so many years with this collection of GIFs.
Photo: Touchstone Pictures (Getty Images)
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It's no exaggeration to say that Colin Follenweider has been in basically every action movie you've seen in the last 10 years, including Die Hard, X- Men, Iron Man, Avatar, Transformers, Spider-Man, Divergent, Ender’s Game, Gangster Squad, Savages, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Green Hornet. He’s been the body double for Daniel Craig, Shia LaBeouf, Kevin Bacon, Bruce Willis, and Peter Griffin (just seeing if you're paying attention).
Rick Sylvester got his legendary start as a James Bond stuntman, doubling for Roger Moore. He reached stuntman icon status when he free-base ski-jumped 7,500 feet off El Capitan in Yosemite Park! The shot cost the studio $500,000 to shoot, and Rick was paid $30,000 for the stunt.
Michelle Yeoh is the Jackie Chan of women's stunts. She's appeared in James Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies, Supercop (matching Jackie Chan stunt for stunt), as well as roles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha and Sunshine. Her total net worth is an estimated $245 million!
Bobby Holland Hanton
Bobby's doubled as Christian Bale in Batman, Daniel Craig in James Bond, and Chris Hemsworth in Thor. Talk about three of the most badass characters of all time! Whether it's free jumping and falling 100 feet, crashing into a stone wall or jumping off a three-story balcony to an adjacent ledge while a SWAT team shoots at him, this guy has some seriously big onions which makes him one of the most popular stuntmen in Hollywood.
Admittedly, that's a GIF of Hugh Jackman dad-dancing. But, doesn't it make you wanna stroll a finely manicured lawn while wearing khakis? Richard Bradshaw sure does, he's doubled for Hugh Jackman on both Van Helsing and X-Men: Days of Future Past. He's also doubled for Guy Pierce, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Matthew McConaughey, Colin Firth, Ted Danson, and Hugh Grant. Bradshaw is a genius when it comes to mimicking actors mannerisms, adding his own flare every now and then to make the actor look cooler. Needless to say, Hollywood loves him for it.
At this point, Jackie Chan is essentially a household name. But, he got his start as a stuntman in martial arts films where he performed and choreographed his own stunts. Fight sequences, parkour moves, and free-jumping in movies such as Rumble In The Bronx, Supercop and the Rush Hour films have made him a legend. But, if you really want to see some incredible martial arts, check our his earlier work: Hand of Death, Drunken Master, and New Fist of Fury.
Hal Needham's legendary status began with stories of Hollywood nights on the town with his buddy, Burt Reynolds. But, he was also recognized professionally when he received a lifetime achievement award (Governor's Award), proudly presented by a fellow Hollywood ruffian, Quentin Tarantino. Needham served as a stuntman for many roles in the '60s and '70s, eventually doubling for Burt Reynolds several times, which lead to Reynolds asking him to direct the mega-action film, Smokey and the Bandit. This lead into Needham's directing career, hitting the mark with other huge action hit films Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace.
It's very simple, she was the stunt double for C-P30 in Star Wars. Enough said, right? But, there's more. She's also appeared in the first three Superman movies, the first three Indiana Jones films, The Omen, Krull, the original Total Recall (as Sharon Stone) and Red 2. Legendary status!
The Guinness Book Of World Records names Vic Armstrong as the most prolific stunt double in the history of films. He's doubled as Christopher Reeves in Superman and Superman II, Harrison Ford in the first three Indiana Jones movies and George Lazenby's version of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Vic also coordinated many of the action sequences in the pre-Daniel Craig James Bond films, and he's responsible for the stunts in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Pretty solid resume, huh?
Sir Eddie Kidd
When the Queen of England knights you for your stunt work, I think you can call yourself the king. Sir Eddie was an expert motorcycle rider, holding several world records for long jumps. While doubling for Harrison Ford in the 1979 film Hanover Street, Eddie Kidd jumped a 120-foot railway while traveling at 90 miles per hour – a then-world record. The king of stunts is best known for his work on several James Bond films, doubling for Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, and Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye. Unfortunately, Sir Eddie suffered a serious brain injury and paralysis due to a motorcycle crash in 1996.