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A stunt double is a cross between a body double and a stunt performer, specifically a skilled replacement used for dangerous film or video sequences, such as jumping out of a building or from vehicle to vehicle, and for other sophisticated stunts (especially fight scenes). Stunt doubles may be used in cases where an actor's physical condition or age precludes much activity, or when an actor is contractually prohibited from taking certain risks. A dance double performs the dangerous or physically difficult dance parts of a character's role.
A stunt-double performing in a Spider-Man shoot
|Names||Stunt double, body double|
|Competencies||Physical fitness, daring, acting skills|
|Body double, stunt performer, stunt coordinator, actor, movie star, extra|
Stunt doubles should be distinguished from daredevils, who perform stunts for the sake of the stunt alone, often as a career. Sequences often do not place stunt doubles in the same mortal peril as the characters: for example, harnesses and wires can be digitally edited out of the final film.
Many stunt doubles have long production careers as part of a star actor's contractual "support crew", along with the star's cooks, trainers, dressers, and assistants. Often stunt doubles have to look like their respective actors, in order to maintain the illusion that it is the actor on-screen. Stunt doubles for Eddie Murphy, John Wayne, Harrison Ford, Steve Martin, Salman Khan and Michael Landon have been associated with their lead actors for decades.
The work of stunt doubles in American TV and film productions is overwhelmingly taken by white men. When they are made up to look like a woman, thus depriving a female stunt double of work, the practice is called "wigging". When they are made up to look like another race, thus denying work to someone of colour, the practice is called a "paint down". Experienced stunt performers equate it in 2018 with blackface minstrelsy.
Some actors are known to have performed their own stunts. Jackie Chan is well known for this, as are fellow martial arts star and movie partners Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung, and Tony Jaa. Indian actor Jayan performed extremely dangerous stunts and was killed while performing one involoving a helicopter. Akshay Kumar does all of his own stunts, including some dangerous ones.
Some actors started out as stunt doubles. Dyri Kristjansson, the second actor of LazyTown's Sportacus, started out as original actor Magnús Scheving's stunt double. Voice actress Chantal Strand, best known for voicing Dragon Tales' Cassie, started off doing stunts on Look Who's Talking Now with her twin sister Michelle.
Non-humans are also known to have stunt doubles. For example, Enzo was the stunt double for his aging sire Moose on the sitcom Frasier. Soccer, the Jack Russell terrier on Wishbone, reportedly hated swimming and therefore had stunt doubles.
- Robb, David; Robb, David (17 May 2018). "Stuntwomen Panel: Evangeline Lilly Says She Was Intentionally Injured While Filming 'Lost'". Deadline. Retrieved 21 December 2018.