Menu Close

Stunt Doubles and Wrongful Death

Throughout filmmaking years, many top celebrities have undergone several astonishing stunt performances throughout their careers. Stunt doubles are used as reflections of the movie or show character, instead of the actor or actress. Actors and actresses are less likely to jeopardize their lives for a stunt they must do on set. Stunt doubles are also trained professionals who undergo series of physical tests to be able to meet the standards of filmmaking.

The Idea Behind Stunt Doubles

The idea behind stunt doubles is to persuade the audience that they are the character. Stunt doubles step into the shoes of the A-list actors and actresses, performing risky, physically demanding stunts in their place. From daring high falls to car chases and combat scenes, these talented individuals make it all look effortless, but the truth is far from it.

The Glamour and Grit

While there is undeniable glamour associated with the film industry, the lives of stunt doubles are a stark contrast. Their daily grind involves rigorous physical training, developing specialized skills, and enduring a level of danger that most people can hardly fathom. The glamour may lie in the final product, but the grit is in the preparation and execution. They rehearse tirelessly, often in adverse conditions, and push the boundaries of human capabilities. Stunt doubles are consummate professionals, but their job carries a significant risk that is not always visible to the public.

A Risky Business

Performing stunts is inherently risky. While safety measures are rigorously enforced, accidents can and do happen. Stunt doubles are often in precarious positions, performing feats that can lead to severe injury or even death. Falls, crashes, and explosions are just some of the many hazards they face.

The Inherent Dangers of Stunt Work

High falls are one of the most iconic stunt scenes involves high falls, which require precise calculations and expert timing. Mistakes can lead to fatal consequences. Car stunts such as car chases, crashes, and flips are standard fare in action movies. Even with protective measures, such as roll cages and helmets, the risk of injury remains. Combat scenes including hand-to-hand combat and fight scenes may look choreographed, but they involve genuine physical contact, and even a slight miscalculation can result in injury. Explosions with pyrotechnic stunts are both visually stunning and dangerous. The coordination of explosions and stunts is critical to avoiding harm. Water stunts like underwater scenes come with their own set of challenges, including the risk of drowning and entanglement.

Wrongful Deaths in Stunt Work

Tragically, the world of stunt work has seen its share of wrongful deaths. These are accidents that occur on set and result in the loss of a stunt performer’s life. While the film industry has made great strides in improving safety measures, the risks remain.

One of the most notable cases of wrongful death in stunt work occurred during the filming of the 1982 film “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” Actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, lost their lives in a helicopter accident during a night shoot. This incident led to a substantial overhaul of safety procedures on film sets, especially those involving child actors.

Another tragic case involved the death of renowned stuntwoman, Joi “SJ” Harris, during the filming of “Deadpool 2” in 2017. Harris was performing a motorcycle stunt when she lost control and crashed. Her death sparked a renewed conversation about the safety of stunt performers and the need for more comprehensive training and risk assessment.

Safety Practices and Regulations

Following these tragic incidents, the film industry has implemented measures to bolster safety practices and regulations. Collaboratively, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and other industry organizations have taken measures to establish more rigorous safety protocols. These measures encompass thorough risk evaluations, the qualification criteria for stunt coordinators, and the adoption of specialized safety equipment. Additionally, many productions employ safety consultants to assess and mitigate potential risks.

The Psychological Toll on Stunt Doubles and Safety

The dangers that stunt doubles face aren’t limited to physical risks; the psychological toll is also significant. Witnessing accidents and near misses can take a severe emotional toll on these professionals. Coping with fear and anxiety while maintaining a strong facade can lead to a range of mental health challenges.

One of the ongoing debates in the film industry is the delicate balance between artistic vision and safety. While safety measures have improved, some argue that the demands of creative directors can still put stunt performers in harm’s way. The pursuit of the perfect shot sometimes trumps safety concerns.

Contact an Attorney Today

Stunt doubles are the unsung heroes of the film industry, but their role comes with inherent risks. Wrongful deaths in stunt work are a tragic reality, and they serve as a sobering reminder of the dangerous nature of the profession. The public’s appreciation of the art of stunts should also be accompanied by a deeper understanding of the sacrifices and dangers faced by the brave individuals who make it happen.

If someone you know has wrongfully died on the job of being a stunt double, give our office a call at 310.943.1171. Additionally, visit our other website for more information about other potential cases you can get assistance on.

Leave a Reply

Call Now