In Hollywood, actors and actresses may get all the recognition from starring in films, but it's their stunt doubles who receive all the praise on set.
Fusion went to Tinseltown to speak with some of the women you’ve seen countless times on the big screen, but mistaken for someone else. We spoke with three of Hollywood’s top stunt actresses: Natascha Hopkins, a 10-year veteran who recently worked in "Divergent," "Django Unchained" and the upcoming Mad Max film; Zee James, who began as an actress and started doing stunts on "Ride Along," "Scandal," and the upcoming NWA biopic "Straight Outta Compton;" and martial artist Caitlin Dechelle, of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," Iggy Azalea’s "Black Widow" music video, and the upcoming "Fast & Furious" film.
Stunt doubles have a rigorous training schedule. "We train all of the time and we train with some of the best," Zee James told Fusion. She says stunt doubles train hard because they're often called on to a set without knowing what stunt they'll be asked to perform, so they need to be prepared for whatever is thrown at them. Literally.
Performing stunts is actually more demanding — and oftentimes painful — when doubling for women. Men tend to wear more clothing, so it's easier for their stunt doubles to hide pads to protect their bodies. Not so much for women. Caitlin Dechelle says, "We get more credit because sometimes we are doing stunts in dresses, shorts, and tank tops."
It's a tough job, but they do it with pride and humility.
"We're there to keep them safe and make them look good," Natascha Hopkins said.
So the next time you watch a big blockbuster, sit through the extra minute of credits and give a nod to the stunt doubles that made your suspension of disbelief so enjoyable.
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Adé Mangum is a TV, film, and hip-hop junkie. "When I do what I do, I do what I'm doing…but I'm doing it like I'm doing it for TV" - Ma$e