how stuntmen get their revenge with “The Fall Guy”

how stuntmen get their revenge with “The Fall Guy”
how stuntmen get their revenge with “The Fall Guy”

With The Fall Guyadapted from the series The Man Who FallenRyan Gosling allows stuntmen to emerge from the shadows.

Without them, the magic of cinema would not exist: shadow heroes of the 7th art, stuntmen fight to obtain the recognition they deserve in an industry which relies more and more on digital effects and artificial intelligence. While they have been campaigning for years in Hollywood for the creation of a prize rewarding the best stunts at the Oscars, they are taking their revenge in theaters with The Fall Guy, blockbuster with Ryan Gosling in theaters this Wednesday, May 1st. The actor plays a stuntman who looks like a vigilante in this adaptation of the cult series from the 1980s The Man Who Fallen.

“I always felt a lot of gratitude towards them,” Ryan Gosling tells BFMTV. “They take all the hits. They put themselves in danger for us and never get the spotlight. That always seemed strange to me.”

A situation all the stranger since some of the biggest stars are also stuntmen, from Buster Keaton to Jackie Chan via Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Douglas Fairbanks. “Their stunts were considered as part of their acting performance, and not as a profession in its own right,” specifies Alex Rallo, an action cinema specialist at the helm of the popular X account (ex-Twitter). @HeadExposure.

Same analysis for Tom Cruise, who has been performing his own stunts for a decade for Impossible mission – became the main marketing element of the franchise: “Honestly, I’m not so sure that (it) helps a lot in advancing the stuntmen’s cause: he can make himself a spokesperson, it’s true , but he will always remain a movie star above all,” believes the specialist.

“Not superhumans”

Stunt performers play a fundamental role in a film. And participate as much as the stars in the creation of sequences which will become lasting memories for the public. “Stunt performers are in a way those who today dedicate the most of themselves, physically speaking, to cinematic achievement,” confirms Alex Rallo.

“For me, they are just as laudable as the dancers who treated us to extravagant numbers in the golden age of music: it is an approach to cinema that revolves around a tangible physicality, and a means for the viewer to get even closer to the characters, to the action, on a physical and emotional level.” This is the subject of The Fall Guywhose director is David Leitch, Brad Pitt’s former stunt double (Fight Club) and Matt Damon (The Bourne Ultimatum).

The film, which follows a stuntman (Gosling) hired to find a star who went missing on set, depicts these “action men” as men whose intimate lives are shattered by their work. “Showing them do incredible stunts and then crying in their car to Taylor Swift, it allows you to show them in a slightly more complex way,” laughs Ryan Gosling. “It shows that what they do is special and that they are not superhuman.”

The most famous films on the subject – The Fury of Danger with Burt Reynolds, Drive with Ryan Gosling, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood with Brad Pitt – always present these shadowy figures as super-powerful characters. The Fall Guy is no exception to the rule. But several scenes in the film break world stunt records. “We wanted it to be authentic,” insists David Leitch on BFMTV. “Because we’re talking about stunts, it was important to do everything for real.”

Soon an Oscar for best stunts?

His next goal – and his most difficult stunt to pull off: obtaining recognition for this profession by the Academy of Oscars. “It’s very important,” insists Emily Blunt, star of The Fall Guy. “It’s crazy that there’s no category at the Oscars because these stunts take weeks and weeks of preparation. They’re real artists.” Started several months ago, the discussions should be successful. “The Academy is really interested,” announces David Leitch.

How can we explain such late recognition when stunt performers are recognized in other countries like Hong Kong? While the Oscars are often criticized for being excessively long, many in the industry fear another category will be removed in favor of stunt performers. And action cinema has long been a victim of Hollywood snobbery.

In almost a hundred years, only three stunt performers have been honored by the Academy of Oscars. Stuntman Yakima Canutt, known for developing safety devices on set, received an honorary award in 1967. Hal Needham, stuntman turned film director with Burt Reynolds (Run after me sheriff, The Cannonball Team) received one in 2012. Jackie Chan was also awarded in 2016.

“It’s demoralizing”

This debate on the lack of recognition has animated the profession for years. Jack Gill, fight and stunt coordinator Fast & Furious, has been fighting since 1991 to obtain recognition from the Academy of Oscars. Questioned in 2013 by the BBChe confided his feeling of injustice despite the support of heavyweights like Steven Spieberg, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“It’s demoralizing because we put our whole lives into these scenes. You’re sitting at home watching the heads of other departments (being celebrated at the Oscars) and you’re not with them. All the coordinators of the stunt performers I know were at home in front of their station when their film won an Oscar and he wasn’t there to celebrate with the crew.

A bitterness commensurate with the talent employed by the stuntmen, whose job is much more subtle than being shot, blown up, crushed or thrown out of windows, recalls Emily Blunt: “The bond is very strong. The best stuntmen give you They observe. They blend into your character and into your personality. They watch how you move, how you embody your character.

Renewal

The fight between Jack Gill and David Leitch should soon bear fruit thanks to the renewal of generations, believes Alex Rallo: “Today’s industry professionals are fans of films released from the 70s to the 90s, period in which the world has seen a certain excitement of action films, from the United States to Hong Kong to Japan and even Europe.

“Today, the action genre itself is experiencing a certain excitement for several reasons, including the segmentation of streaming platforms,” adds the specialist. “It’s safer to bet on a genre film than on an indie drama and so stunt performers have a lot of work opportunities these days, perhaps more than before.”

“The convergence of these two developments makes, in my opinion, the profession more in demand and therefore more publicized,” he continues. “Some stuntmen and action directors are therefore starting to make themselves known personally (87North, Eric Jacobus, Kensuke Sonomura, Kenji Tanigaki, etc.), as was once the case in Hong Kong.” “It’s in the spirit of the times,” rejoices David Leitch. The timing is finally right.

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