Hollywood stunt performers rev up 'Fall Guy' premiere

Hollywood stunt performers rev up 'Fall Guy' premiere


Movie's release comes as pressure mounts in Hollywood for stunt performers to receive recognition

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Fresh from the high-profile success of "Barbie," Ryan Gosling used the Los Angeles premiere of his next movie "The Fall Guy" to cede the spotlight to Hollywood's unsung heroes -- stunt performers.

Loosely based on the 1980s TV series of the same name, "The Fall Guy" stars Gosling as a veteran stunt double who must recover from a severe on-set injury to save an old flame (Emily Blunt) from a mysterious real-world threat.

The movie's release comes as pressure is mounting in Hollywood for stunt performers to receive more recognition, including an Oscar category of their own.

"He got set on fire eight times for me," said Gosling, pointing to one of his stunt doubles during Tuesday's red carpet event. "How do you thank somebody for that?"

In the film, Gosling's hero must draw on all of his impressive stunt tricks and know-how -- navigating high-speed chases, and fighting goons with hastily improvised weapons -- to save the day and win back the girl.

Those techniques were on show alongside the A-list stars at the Los Angeles premiere, as stunt actors roared motorcycles down the red carpet, leapt from a sky-high platform, and brawled through a plate-glass window.

"We just came out and tried to smash some glass and make a fun show for everybody," joked stunt performer Justin Eaton.

"The Fall Guy" -- out in US theaters Friday -- is directed by David Leitch, a former stuntman who took beatings for Matt Damon in "The Bourne Ultimatum" and Brad Pitt in "Fight Club," among others.

Leitch made the leap into directing with 2014's smash hit "John Wick," and has since helmed blockbusters like "Atomic Blonde," "Deadpool 2" and "Bullet Train."

But "The Fall Guy" is Leitch's first movie to specifically highlight and honor his former profession.

And with computer-generated visual effects increasingly used for action sequences in Hollywood movies, Leitch relished the chance to put some of the industry's best to work at the sort of old-school practical stunts that are seldom performed on camera these days.

"It was really important -- we wanted to lean into practical (stunts), because it was a celebration of that artisanship that the stunt communities had," he told AFP. "So we leaned into the classic stunts, and did them for real."

Stunt Oscars?

Gosling's latest role required multiple specialized stuntmen. Logan Holladay, a driving stunts expert, broke a world record during the film, by flipping a fast-moving car into an astonishing eight-and-a-half sideways "cannon rolls."

Calls have been growing for a "best stunts" category at the Oscars, with supporters arguing that their input equals that of the sound mixers, makeup artists and visual effects gurus already honored.

"You can get a Best Screenplay Oscar for typing in your shed for a year," said Drew Pearce, the film's writer.

"You have to literally risk death every day -- and not just like 'metaphorical death' death, but real death -- to be a stunt person."

Stunt work is already honored at some prestigious movie and TV ceremonies, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

"The Fall Guy" stars Gosling and Blunt paid tribute to stunt performers during this year's Academy Awards, presenting a video montage featuring hair-raising sequences from Charlie Chaplin through to Leitch's "John Wick" films.

"They've been such a crucial part of our community since the beginning of cinema," said Gosling, at April's Oscars.

Whether that campaign will prevail remains to be seen. But for now, the movie has at least raised awareness of the risks of the job.

"(As) people who work in the shadows, we accept that, we signed up for that," said Eaton. "But just having some recognition from our audience is really the biggest thing."