Dame Helen Mirren feels that Academy Awards for stunt performers are long overdue. The Oscar-winning actress considers these “craftsmen” every bit as deserving as any of the other categories recognized by the awards ceremony.
For decades now, the men and women behind the death-defying stunts in movies great and small have been fighting to be a part of what is considered the pinnacle of awards ceremonies. Yet, despite rallying for inclusion outside the offices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2016, little headway has been made. While the Screen Actors Guild added an award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble back in 2007, other ceremonies have failed to do the same. The omission of stunt coordinators and performers at the Oscars has become a glaring one.
Helen Mirren recently told Female First, “There really should be an Oscar for stunt work. These guys are incredible and they're so careful and so professional. And they're artists. They do amazing things.” In the last few years, Mirren has had the opportunity to witness the genius of stunt work first hand. The actress added a healthy dose of action to her resume by taking parts in both the Fast & Furious and RED franchises. She hopes to have a future in the former series too, so long as she gets to drive. Apparently, Mirren sought out these roles and credits her own Oscar with opening such doors for her.
Jack Gill, stunt coordinator of The Fate of the Furious, has been attempting to get a stunt category added to the Oscars since 1991. Gill also worked on Sony's Venom movie, set for release in October of this year, and was the second-unit director on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. His long-standing petition has been unsuccessful, as has the outcry from the community in general. Academy member and veteran stuntman, Conrad Palmisano, has stated that there are simply not enough stunt performers in the Academy to form a category. Without that, a nomination isn’t possible. Stunt worker Ben Bray feels that part of the issue is the desire to keep up the illusion that it is the actors who are performing these amazing stunts.
This is an age of technological wonder, in which GCI is capable of incredible feats. However, many audiences liken that experience to watching a video game. CGI may be able to fool us sometimes, but ultimately, there is no substitute for the men and women who are quite literally putting their lives on the line in order to entertain us. Whatever the reason, we can all agree that stunt work is integral to a movie’s success and deserves to be recognized as such. The Taurus World Stunt Awards has been celebrating the achievements of stunt workers for many years now and the SAG Awards have righted this wrong. It’s long past time for the Oscars to follow suit.