Stunt performers go unnoticed – that’s the whole idea. But The Fall Guy shows how their role and relationship with big stars is key

Stunt performers go unnoticed – that’s the whole idea. But The Fall Guy shows how their role and relationship with big stars is key
  • PublishedJune 11, 2024

Managing egos, developing an unbreakable bond with the star of a film, dancing with danger – it’s all in a day’s work for a stunt performer.

“It’s not all bells and whistles and fun,” says Keir Beck, a stunt coordinator on The Fall Guy.

“It can be full of bruises and bitter loneliness.

“And you’re away from your family.”

Directed by seasoned stunt performer David Leitch, The Fall Guy is centred on stuntman Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), who experiences a near-career-ending accident. He eventually returns to double for star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) in a mega-budget movie, directed by his love interest Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt).

It’s a brilliant film, which is now available to a home audience with an additional 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage.

Beck told ABC News the film gives great insight into the reality of what men and women working in stunts experience.

But he says while there are tensions between the main characters on The Fall Guy, a good relationship between a stunt double and the star of a film is crucial.

“It’s super, super important because obviously everyone has to stay safe,” Beck says.

“And also, they have to get along well because the stunt performer has to mirror the actor’s body language and mannerisms and quirks to the tee so that when you’re watching the film you can’t spot the difference.

A tall, pretty, slim woman with short blonde hair and black outfit standing next to Keir Beck in black, both smiling
Keir Beck attended the Sydney Premiere of The Fall Guy with his wife Kelly Marie. (Supplied: Lisa Maree Williams)

“And that’s probably something that audiences wouldn’t have the foggiest [about] … that there’s some stunt double standing behind the camera watching the actor’s every single move … ‘do they move their right hand this way? Do they do something funny with their fingers? Do they tilt their hat a certain way? Do they walk in a certain manner? Is their posture this way, that way or the other way?'”

Managing the egos of big stars

Beck says being a stunt performer is a balancing act that can also involve managing the ego of a big star.

“We do sometimes have to manage the cast that we’re working with, particularly if they’re wanting to do something and we know that they probably, for insurance reasons, shouldn’t do it or for capability reasons they shouldn’t do it.

“So, sometimes we’re dealing with the actor’s egos, as far as sometimes they don’t want the stunt person doing it because they feel like they should do it.

“And I guess it’s something that’s always in the back of your mind, on how to manage and maintain the harmony and the collaboration between the stunt performer and the cast members.”

A man with sandy-coloured hair and a beard faces a woman wearing a large straw hat on a film set
Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) and Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) are in a situationship in The Fall Guy.(Supplied: Universal Studios)

The Fall Guy is a re-imagining of the 1980s television show The Fall Guy and programs like The Dukes of Hazzard and The Six Million Dollar Man, which Beck grew up watching in Western Australia.

“I always thought to myself, ‘You know what, that’d be a great job to be a stuntman.'”

He trained as an arborist and spent 10 years working in that field until a chance meeting led to stunt roles on a long list of films including Pitch Black with Vin Diesel, Fast X, Fast & Furious 9, The Matrix Resurrections, The Matrix Revolutions, The Matrix Reloaded, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, Casino Royale and Mad Max: Fury Road.

‘Put our necks on the line to make actors look great’

There have been rumblings in the industry for some time about why stunt performers aren’t recognised with a category at the Academy Awards, with Beck saying he’d like to see this.

“Stunts play a massive and monumental role in most films,” Beck says.

“And yet, there’s no recognition.

“We do actually put our necks on the line to make actors look great. And to come up with cool action to entertain the audiences.

“And that’s why people go to movies to see action and cool stuff.

“So, it would be a wonderful thing for the community to be having an Academy Award.”

Ryan Gosling in aviator sunglasses and a sleeveless vest leans an arm against a doorframe
Ryan Gosling carried out many of his own stunts in The Fall Guy.(Supplied: Universal Studios)

Filmed mostly in Sydney, The Fall Guy failed to make a splash at the box office, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the film.

“I would have liked to have seen it do a lot better,” Beck says.

“But I think it’s not a reflection of the film. I think it’s a reflection of the economics of the time.

“A couple of other films that came out around the same time also didn’t do as well as what was expected.

“So, I think there’s a common thread there, that it’s not the content, it’s the vibe of the market that people like to watch their movies at home these days.”

And now audiences have that chance.


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