Do You Care If Actors Do Their Own Stunts?

I’m really excited to watch Mission Impossible: Fallout this weekend. I love most movies in the series, I’m entertained by Tom Cruise’s intensity, and the reviews are glowing.

But I’m not sure I care about actors doing their own stunts (“actors” used in the way that performers use it–gender neutral). Stress the “I’m not sure” part, as I’m undecided.

On one hand, it shows that the actor truly embraces the role, which often has a positive impact on the film. It also increases the likelihood of more long shots and fewer quick cuts, as fewer illusions are required from the director. Overall, it can result in a more immersive experience for the audience.

On the other hand, acting isn’t necessarily synonymous with stunts. Take Judi Dench, for example: Fantastic actress, but if a role calls for her to fall off a building, does it really need to be Judi Dench who performs the stunt? There are stunt doubles who specialize in this sort of thing. Plus, often the nature of stunts is that they involve action, which happens quickly–so quickly that you can barely tell who the person is unless the camera really lingers on their face.

That’s where I think I’ll make my conclusion: I like actors to perform their own stunts if the director is on board with using that footage to enhance the entertainment value through long shots that clearly show the actor in action. Otherwise I’d leave it to the experts.

I’m curious about your opinion. If you hear that an actor did their own stunts in a movie, does that impact your desire to see it or your impression of them as an actor?


7 Responses to “Do You Care If Actors Do Their Own Stunts?”

  1. Katie says:

    I appreciate it if they do, but I don’t blame them if they opt out of certain ones. I just happened to catch this video showing the behind-the-scenes logistics for one of the crazier action sequences in MI: Fallout and I was really impressed and it actually made me kind of excited to see it! Say what you want about Tom Cruise, but he works very hard to make his movies exciting for the audience.

    Although I think this particular sequence has already been hyped a little in the promos and they take care not to reveal any major plot points in the clip, I won’t say anything else because I know you like going in knowing as little as possible, Jamey! I’ll just leave it here for after you see it or for those that are interested now. https://youtu.be/2BnOebsDtAQ

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I just got back from watching the movie, and the scene you’re referring to is one of the best, most thrilling action scenes I’ve ever seen in a film. I don’t think it would have been the same if Tom Cruise hadn’t made the jump for real.

      • Katie says:

        I saw it last night too, and it really made me have a lot more appreciation for all of the hard work he puts into these movies! It would probably be a lot easier to green screen shots like that, but he seems to have a level of commitment to making them as real as possible. There were a lot of great action scenes in that movie!

  2. Charles Dionne says:

    It usually doesn’t affect my opinion of an actor or actress if they do their own stunts but I must admit that the level of dedication shown by Mr. Cruise in his craft is quite impressive. Other than performing the HALO jump mentioned above by Katie which is very impressive in itself, I read that he also got his helicopter pilot license so he could perform his own helicopter stunts and broke his ankle while performing a jump but fought through the pain to finish the sequence because he knew there wouldn’t be another chance at it anytime soon. That’s dedication right there! Can’t wait to go see the movie but it might not be until after Gen Con for me.

  3. TMac says:

    My gut reaction is that I prefer actors NOT doing their owns stunts. Upon hearing that there are some advantages (such as longer uncut scenes), I’ll pull that back a little. If an actor is capable of executing the stunt at the highest level, I’d applaud that. However, a few movies stand out to me as being denigrated by the actor attempting his/her own stunt when the actor clearly isn’t talented enough to make it look amazing – sword fights really stand out here, for example.

  4. While I can appreciate the extra level of dedication this requires, I do sometimes wonder if in this age of seemless digital effects it isn’t just about self-indulgent ego stroking.

    If the director and the editor do their jobs correctly we should never know the difference between actor and stunt double, the action sequences should wow us and keep us on the edge of our seats.

    I’m kind of surprised studios, who tend be so risk adverse creatively, would allow highly paid A-list actors to continue this practice and take this kind of risk.

  5. […] about Mission Impossible: Fallout last week before I saw it, through the lens of a question of whether or not actors should perform their own stunts. Normally I wouldn’t revisit the same topic so soon, but I really enjoyed the movie, hence […]

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