Action movies are known for placing their heroes in nail biting life or death situations where there’s danger at every turn. Directors enjoy ramping up the suspense, engaging the audience in what’s happening on the screen. Sometimes the sequences are so risky, the help of a stunt double will be enlisted so the leading man or woman stays safe.
But for some, that’s not good enough. Hollywood is full of daredevil A-listers who prefer to do as much as they can to ensure maximum authenticity when viewers settle in to watch the film. Whether they’re playing archeologists, spies, hit me, or anything in between, there are a number of thespians who do the work for themselves, much to our delight. Here are Screen Rant’s 10 actors that refuse to use stunt doubles.
A veteran of several action movies, Ford is never afraid to get his hands dirty. While filming the Indiana Jones series, he enjoyed the physical nature of the character and trained hard so he could do his own stunts. Ford was so adept at filming the set pieces, causing legendary stuntman Vic Armstrong to tell Ford that if he kept it up, Armstrong would be out of a job. The two did share the stunt duties, but a majority of what took place was all Ford.
Even in his advancing age, Ford isn’t slowing down. J.J. Abrams mentioned that the actor relished in his return to Han Solo, becoming one of the more active members of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast. And that was after breaking his leg during shooting. Rumors about Indiana Jones 5 continue to swirl around the Internet, so hopefully Ford’s days as a stunt performer aren’t done yet.
One of the leading action stars of this generation, Cruise ups the ante every time he makes a film. His feats in the Mission: Impossible franchise are perhaps his most famous. While filming 2011’s Ghost Protocol, Cruise is the one scaling the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, and the moment was all the more intense for it. On the sequel, Rogue Nation, the actor actually hung on to a plane taking off, giving fans an opening sequence they will never forget.
Arguably, the M:I films are getting better as they go along, and there’s no telling what Cruise will do for the next installment. The sky appears to be the limit for what he’s willing to do, no matter what the project is. Whether we’re watching the Impossible Mission Force, a war with aliens, or something else extreme, we know that Cruise is delivering the real deal.
Rising to fame in the 1990s, Reeves has put together an impressive action movie résumé. He’s always game to do his own stunts, as early back as 1994’s Speed. The actor trained in secret to perform the daring maneuver where he jumps from a Jaguar to the bus, causing much stress for his director. Later in the decade, Reeves dropped jaws in The Matrix, doing many of his own fight scenes and wirework. He’d continue to do that in the remaining installments of the trilogy.
As his career progresses, Reeves continues to work hard on his own stunts. He wowed moviegoers with the “gun-fu” of John Wick, creating some of the slickest action sequences in recent memory. The actor did 90 percent of the stunts in the film. Fans can’t wait to see John Wick 2, and Reeves’ dedication to his craft is a big reason why.
You don’t want to mess with Angelina Jolie. According to her trainer, the actress has performed 99 percent of the stunts throughout her career, which contains several forays into the action genre, including Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Wanted. Her most impressive credit is the thriller Salt, in which Jolie did not use a stunt double at all. When moviegoers see the character dive through doors or walk on a ledge, Jolie’s the one doing it.
She also did her own stunts while filming Disney’s Maleficent. One action sequence required her to be suspended from a wire before being thrown back into the air. Jolie is still going strong after all these years, so hopefully she keeps it up. There are plenty action franchises out there that could use her talents.
Playing James Bond is no picnic, and Daniel Craig was up for the challenge. The actor quickly established himself as one of the roughest and toughest 007s yet, making sure he was always in top physical condition to do most of the stunt work himself. He felt this was an important aspect of production, and strived to do as much as he could.
Craig has admitted in interviews that he leaves the most daunting stunts to the professionals, but if it’s something he feels he can do, he tackles the stunt. Craig has undeniably left a personal stamp on the character, as he’s been featured in some amazing action sequences during his tenure. After four Bond pictures, it’s no wonder that he sounds ready to move on. It seems like he needs a vacation.
An unlikely action star, Matt Damon helped redefine the genre with the acclaimed Bourne trilogy. He played the part of the amnesic spy to perfection, and that included jumping right in to the stunt work. Damon was up for handling the driving sequences, getting lessons in stunt driving before filming some of the series’ most exciting car chases. Damon also performed some scenes underwater, which was a proposition that understandably frightened him.
Damon’s prowess with stunts isn’t limited to the Bourne series; he’s done his own work in films like Saving Private Ryan and Courage Under Fire. But he’ll always be known for bringing Jason Bourne to life, giving a new generation their action hero. With a new film in the series right around the corner, there’s no telling what Damon will do next – and we can’t wait to see.
Making a career out of starring in various action vehicles, Statham says he enjoys the adrenaline rush from doing his own stunts. His filmography has a plethora of examples, making it difficult to single out one scene in particular that takes the cake as his best. Just know that whenever you see Statham’s character on the screen defying death or going crazy, it’s most likely the real actor going all out on the challenging material.
While fans get a kick out of all it, Statham has suggested that his commitment to doing all his stunts has dug him in quite a hole. People have become so accustomed to seeing him live life dangerously on the big screen, he thinks he needs to top himself each time out, forcing him to test his limits on numerous occasions. But it’s something he loves and Statham keeps on delivering, so nobody would complain if a stunt wasn’t “better” than the last one.
Partially because filmmakers could not find a stunt double that matched the actor’s unique frame, Arnold Schwarzenegger has done many of his own stunts throughout his career. It’s no surprise that he was always up for the task, given that he got his start in bodybuilding. He was always in top physical condition. It was his ability as a stunt performer that gave him his start in Hollywood in the first place, and Arnold never looked back.
Like many of his colleagues, Schwarzengger has kept it up even though he seems past his prime. He refused to use a stunt double while filming The Last Stand, wanting everything to look and feel as real as possible. His work in that movie put his co-star Johnny Knoxville to shame, as Knoxville was reportedly bad at doing stunts. Even as an aging icon, Arnold still has it, and his fans are all the more appreciative for it.
Sly got his big break in Hollywood as a dramatic actor in the original Rocky, but after he became a household name, he transformed into one of the best action stars in movie history. Stallone was always willing to sacrifice his body for the good of the film, and he has the injuries to prove it. During production on Rocky IV, Stallone was sent to intensive care after taking a punch from Dolph Lundgren, and he broke his neck while filming the first Expendables movie.
Stallone returned to his dramatic roots in Creed and earned an Oscar nomination for his moving turn, but there’s nothing like seeing Sly plow through villains in an action movie. Hopefully his days in the genre aren’t over, and he has at least one or two more flicks left in him before calling it a day. There’s something to admire about his ability to keep taking hits and moving forward… just like Rocky Balboa.
Diaz is not the first name that comes to mind when viewers think of action movies, but she’s no slouch when it comes to doing stunts. Acting opposite Tom Cruise in Knight and Day, the actress performed many of the sequences herself. Most notably, Diaz did her own stunt driving, trying to give Cruise a run for his money in regards to not using a stunt double. Diaz suffered some cuts and bruises along the way, but it helped sell her character and make the scenes seem real.
Diaz has a few action credits to her name – including two Charlie’s Angels films – but it’s not always her go-to genre. At this point, it’s difficult to say if she’ll be in an action film any time soon, but directors should keep her in mind for future roles. It always helps to have someone willing to go the extra mile for their part, and Diaz’s ability to do her own stunts sets her apart from the crowd.
Those are our picks for actors who refuse to use stunt doubles. Are there any we missed? Which Hollywood daredevils are your favorites? Sound off in the comments section below and be sure to subscribe to our channel for more fun videos like this one!