|Jack Gill GALACTICA.TV interview|
|Written by Marcel Damen|
|Saturday, 11 September 2010|
Marcel Damen talked to Jack Gill, better known to Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980 fans as the stunt double of Dirk Benedict (Lt. Starbuck) and Barry Van Dyke (Lt. Dillon), as well as playing one of the Cylons. Jack talked about how he became a stunt guy, him driving the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard, K.I.T.T. on Knight Rider, his work on Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980 and what he's currently up to.
You were a pro in Motocross racing when you were discovered/asked by Hal Needham and convinced by him to pursue a career in stunts. Did you ever have any formal training in doing stunts?
Before I was asked I was always doing all sorts of stunts. I had figured out a way to jump off the second level of our house and land in these cardboard boxes. My brother and I used to do that all the time, not knowing that had anything to do with stunts. We had cut a bunch of cardboard boxes up and we dived off from about 20 feet, at the top of the house, into the boxes. I was parachuting when I was 17 and I taught gymnastics. So those were all kind of things that lead into the stunt business. In the stunt business you need to be good at almost anything. You don't need to be a pro, but you need to know a little about everything, because you never know what they'll throw at you. That was the only training I had, other than being good at Motocross.
What was your first real on screen stunt? Were you nervous for that?
The first real stunt I had to do was a jump over three cars. When I first got out to California, they told me that a couple of guys had tried it and failed. They wanted me to jump over these cars and make it look like the ramp was not used. I saw that the ramp wasn't high enough. It wasn't anywhere close to make it over the cars, but then they told me the cars were also going to be on fire as well! I made it. That was the first bit and I ended up doing a bunch of other motorcycle stunts on the show. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed doing them.
One of the things that really helped me more than anything in the stunt business was that I was able to use Hal Needham's name when I needed it. The first time I ever met him, he told me that he was not going to hire me until I didn't need the job. He said: "If you can make it on your own, get out there and have other people hire you, I will find out that other people are hiring you and only then start calling you to put you in the pictures I do."
stunt coordinator / director Jack Gill
What were the most important things he taught you when you first started out doing stunts?
Any time I had any trouble, I could call him up and ask him for advice. What should I be careful of? What should I look for? He was always very good at giving you advice when you had to do something that you were a little uneasy with.
Most of it was common sense. When it doesn't look like it is going to work, it probably won't. There have been instances where I had it all worked out in my head, but then 10 other people said it is not going to work. I got to make it work, so it is going to work. Sometimes you have to overlook all these naysayers. The biggest thing for any stunt person is to trust in yourself and take care that you don't get hurt. If there's any way you can rehearse it without getting hurt, that's the key of finding out what is going to work and what doesn't work.
A lot of the guys that say to you it won't work, haven't really gone through it with a fine tooth comb like I did. There once was this big explosion off a cliff that was 85 feet tall. To get to the edge of the cliff you had to run and step off an air ramp, which is an explosive, air powered propelling device, which throws you up in the air. It was 25 feet out just to get to the airbag -- you had to clear 25 feet of distance, it was 85 feet up and it was at night so you couldn't see it. Everybody was telling me I was going to get killed at this thing and I knew it was going to work. I had rehearsed this on flat ground and I could get 20 feet. At 85 feet up I knew I'd easily get that extra 5 feet. It worked fine.
How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to pursue this as a career?
They hated it. I already got hurt in the Motocross industry pretty bad and they figured it couldn't get much worse than that. When you have 40 screaming motorcycles all going for the same turn and you go down, all the others will go right over you. When they found out I was jumping off 20 store buildings, lighting myself on fire, they weren't really happy with that. (both laughing)
I called my parents to tell them about one of the first high falls I was going to do and they said: "Whatever they pay you, we'll double it if you don't it." (laughing) It's not the same thing. It didn't make sense to me that they'd pay me not to do it, because I still wanted to do it. I understand their problems, because to them it's strange to see their kid go off and risk his life, but it was something I was passionate about and I wasn't going to take "No" for an answer.
Did they have anything else in mind for you as a career? I've read your father was a two star General in the US Air Force. Were you ever pushed towards a military career?
Right at the end of Vietnam, I almost went into the military. One of the reasons I couldn't get in was because I had bad knees. I had broken both my knees in Motocross, so when I went in for the medical it didn't look like they were going to pass me. I'm sure my father could have pulled some strings to get me in, but at the time I was making a good living as a pro Motocross racer. If it looked like I really had to go in, I'd have gone in, but Vietnam was already winding down and people were coming home. So my knee injuries kept me out of the military.
I never thought about going into it after that and my father understood the problems and why I didn't want to go in. I was very successful as a Motocross racer, but what I was going to do when that was over, was still up in the air. A Motocross career doesn't last really long, also because your body can't take that kind of abuse for a very long period of time. Usually after 8-9 years you "retire" and start working either for the factory you raced for or you end up buying a motorcycle shop. I always thought of doing the last, but I did have that fallback of going into the military as well, because I know I also would have enjoyed that. But after 8 years of racing I wanted to go into the stunt business so bad that I dropped everything for it.
Jack Gill and the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard
You started doing a lot of car stunts. You jumped the General Lee on The Dukes of Hazzard for three seasons. You also drove K.I.T.T. in Knight Rider. Was this a natural progression from your professional Motocross career?
I think it was. When I first came out to California I did a lot of motorcycle shows and out here there were a lot of bad guys or Hell's Angels riding motorcycles, so I did a lot of those shows. Usually it also involved car chases. They'd hire you as one of the motorcycle guys and when you'd finished your motorcycle stunt they'd put you in a car. I was pretty handy in a car, but I mostly learned stuff on the set.
John Schneider was friend of mine who I went to school with back in Georgia. He ended up being cast as Bo Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard. He came out to stay with me while he was auditioning for that. We didn't think he was ever going to get it, but eventually he was chosen as Bo Duke and he asked me to double him on the show. That's how I also ended up on the show for 3-4 years.
After that I did The Fall Guy for two years, doubling Lee Majors. I drove the pickup truck in that. I then moved on to Knight Rider and doubled David Hasselhoff. In Knight Rider I was also the stunt coordinator and the second unit director. So together that's like 9 years of heavy car work and I became known as the car guy.
Any anecdotes or spectacular stories from working on The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider?
There was always something crazy going on in The Dukes of Hazzard. They wanted it to look like it was shot in Georgia, but we only did the first three episodes there. Then we came back to California and out here it doesn't look anything like Georgia. The producers wanted to put leaves on the road so it looked like a changing of the season which really doesn't happen in California. They'd bring in bags and bags of leaves. We'd dump bags of leaves in the back of General Lee, so we could dump leaves out of the window. It would fill the road behind us, so in the shot it looked like you were driving through leaves. We had a whole back seat full of leaves. The guy who doubled Tom Wopat was sitting next to me and he smoked cigarettes. At one point he accidentally dropped his cigarette on the leaves and the whole car caught fire while we were on the move!
Jack Gill driving General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard
We had a lot of fun on the show. The best part was that it was like a family and you could pretty much do what you wanted. We knew the scripts weren't that great, so we could try whatever we wanted to do. If we suggested we could jump through a barn, the next day when we picked up a script it would be in there. The producers were always happy and let us try whatever we wanted.
Knight Rider was stranger, since K.I.T.T. drove himself. I did a lot of the design work on that one. We had 18 cars on the show and each one did something different. I had right side drive cars, so the entire right seat had a steering wheel, a gas pedal and a brake pedal. I would hide in the seat. I built a seat that was hollow and I moved it back so it sat behind that rear pillow and you couldn't see how thick the seat was. I sat inside of it and looked out this little vent and drove the car with my hands down low when I came flying out as K.I.T.T. to pick up David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight. He'd jump in and drive off and we'd fight over who would drive the car. (laughing) I had control on my side, but he also had control over on his side and we'd be fighting who'd take it around the corner. That was a lot of fun to do. He's not a precision driver and if we ended up hitting the curve, he'd blame it on me.
Jack Gill driving K.I.T.T. in Knight Rider
How about The Fall Guy?
The Fall Guy was fun, because it was about a stunt guy. Everything that happened to us and some of the older stunt guys, we used in the show. We'd bring a lot of the guys that were in their sixties to tell us about the old days and some of the stunts they did. We'd then write it into the script. The Fall Guy truck jumping into a big truck filled with watermelons, pulling off bumpers... Anything we had done in other movies, we were doing in The Fall Guy. It was kind of a playground for stunt people.
The truck was great because it had tons of suspension. I jumped The Fall Guy truck over a school bus one night, in downtown LA. The truck was so nose heavy that we use to put weights in the toolbox at the back of the truck to even it out. I had weighted the truck out and put in about 450 pounds and there still was another 450 pounds in lead weight that the effects crew had left out there on the ground. We went for dinner and when I came back at two in the morning, I jumped in the truck to do the jump. As I hit the ramp and came off it, the front end was straight up in the air, so it was perpendicular to the ground as I jumped over the school bus. When it hit the ground it came down on the rear bumper and it bounced 4 or 5 times as it came down on the wheels.
I couldn't figure out why it would jump with the nose up like that. Then I found out that when we were away for dinner the effects guys had walked past the weights and had said: "Where shall we put this? Let's put it in the back of the truck." So they threw another 450 pounds of weight in the truck which made it jump like that. After that we'd lock the back of the truck so nobody could get in it when we did our jumps.
Can you remember how many cars you went through on the different series like The Dukes of Hazzard?
For the General Lee on The Dukes of Hazzard we went through 45-50 cars that we completely crashed in a year. And about 85-90 cop cars. On Dukes they kept a roving car carrier that literally went around the US, seven days a week, looking for that model car. Warner Bros wouldn't let them spend more than $2,000-$2,500 on a car to bring it back so we could jump it. At that time there were a lot of people worried that we would run out of General Lee's. Instead of 1969 we used a 1968 and changed the tail lights, but we still started running out of cars.
Today, when I do interviews about The Dukes of Hazzard, I get phone callers who say: "How could you wreck a classic car like that?" and I always say: "It was 1979 and back then it wasn't a classic car. It was only 10 years old." Nobody cared that we wrecked them. Nowadays they're really hard to find.
You said you used 18 on Knight Rider?
On Knight Rider it was publicity for Pontiac. They gave us the cars for $1 each, so I could have all the cars that I wanted. If I wrecked a car in a jump, they just send me a brand new one. The great thing about that was that you never had to get back into the same car. On The Dukes of Hazzard and The Fall Guy, if you jumped the car and only bent the frame, you'd be jumping that same car next week with a bent frame. We didn't have that problem on Knight Rider, we just trashed the car and got another one.
How did you get involved in Battlestar Galactica?
Battlestar Galactica came about because the stunt coordinator on that show knew me from other shows we'd done before. He said: "You'd be a perfect double for one of the guys on the show." I didn't know anything about the show. I knew it was a space show, but I didn't realize it was going to be that big, since nobody really knew what it was about. When I first came on it, I was kind of in shock. During my first walk on the sound stage I saw these huge sets and thought it was pretty cool. Back in the Star Trek days, the sets were pretty cheesy -- everything was kind of cheap. On Battlestar Galactica it was all cool stuff and it looked like it all might work. I ended up being a double for Dirk Benedict and we became friends over the years.
Jack Gill as Dirk Benedict's stunt double in Battlestar Galactica
Were you on it from the pilot?
Yes. It was one of those things where you get on and you don't know yet if you're going to be the guy. There were three of us that were doubling Dirk Benedict on the pilot. After the first three episodes it ended up just being me.
Can you name some of the stunts you did on that series?
Most of the time we were running from explosions, fighting, climbing up and jumping off stuff. We very rarely did any of the scenes in the Viper, because those were close-up shots of the actors. Any time anything exploded they would put up the stunt guys first to see if it was going to hurt them. If they survived it, they might consider putting the actors in. (both laughing)
Some of the explosions were so big that my wig would catch on fire. I got to a point where my hair was long enough and I didn't have to wear a wig anymore, but the first three episodes they had a wig for me. During those first three episodes the wig caught on fire at least once every episode.
You were also one of the guys that was in the Cylon suit?
The only reason they stuck us in the Cylon suit was that they already had us on salary to double the lead, so it was cheaper for them to also put us in the Cylon suit while we were on set anyway. Most of the guys that were in the Cylon suit were really big guys. They were often 6'4" or 6'5". The tall guys were mostly background extras and weren't allowed to do stunts. Every now and then they'd bring in two or three really big stunt guys, but sometimes you had 10-12 Cylons of which a bunch had to be killed or blown up. That's why they put us in a suit and had us wear lifts.
I did Cylon suits like 15-20 times of all the time I was on the series. Every time I did, that suit pinched the crap out of me. When you fell down there was always a shard that would pierce down in my armpit or somewhere else. It really was a very uncomfortable suit.
Is it true they sometimes recruited local basketball or football players to play Cylons?
Yes, they would bring those guys in as extra background players. Some of those guys were really, really tall. They would use lifts on those guys too, to make them look so much bigger and imposing than the actors. When you put five stunt guys together against regular background actors which were 6'5", you can't really tell how tall all are anyway. It's only when you get up next to other things in which you can tell how tall they are.
Can you remember any specific scenes you did as a double or a Cylon?
I should get that DVD set, since it's been so long since I've last seen them, that I can't even remember all the episodes. I was also on Galactica 1980 so it all kind of mashes together now. Whenever there was a Cylon that had to get blown up or shot, I was the one where they would put this special effects pack on my chest. It gave this big spark effect with fire out of your chest.
The problem with playing a Cylon was that you couldn't put your hands down when you fell. You had to fall straight to your chest. It sucked, because if you did put your hands down, the director would come over and say: "No, no, no. You've got to remember that you are a robot and you have to fall like a robot would fall. You can't put your hands out." So you'd fall out, face flat to the ground, with no protection and all the plastic breaking.
Jack Gill played one of the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica
Were you ever seriously pierced, through your chest or one of your limbs?
Not, I was never seriously pierced. You'd always have cuts, scrapes and pinches. The inside of my arm got cut once, because another guy fell on top of me. The plastic popped, it cut my arm and I had like three stitches. Most of the times you got scraped really bad or pinched.
You always had to do scenes twice. They put another, new breastplate on you and you had to deal with that while your arms were already cracked and broken. You knew you were going to fall again while your arm pieces were already broken and it was probably going to cut you.
Did you wear extra protection for the pyrotechnics?
We always put a 3 inch rubber pad behind it, so the fire couldn't get to us. You never really felt it and when you had the helmet on you couldn't really see much either. You could see straight, but you couldn't see below you. When it went off you either had somebody say: "Now." over your headset or you'd see the sparks after it already went off. Then it was already too late to react. Since you didn't really feel anything either, it was also hard to know when to react when you got shot.
Can you remember any of the other guys that wore the Cylon suit?
Yes, I knew them pretty well. Dick Durock and all the other guys. They'd use the same guys all the time. Once you knew those guys were in the Cylon suits, I probably didn't need to be in one that day, but every now and then they'd throw me in. It was kind of tough on me, because if I was standing next to the wrong guy, that outweighed me by 60 pounds, you just knew he was going to fall on you and it would hurt even more.
Names? There was Diamond Farnsworth. Diamond was my size, but he'd also wear the suit. Walter Scott, who was really, really tall. Dennis Madalone. Who else? They were only allowed to shoot the stunt guys. The ones that were only walking, were all background extras that changed all the time.
Is it true that actor Dennis Haysbert started out his career as one of the Cylons?
Yes, that's true. Dennis was one of them.
The only one that was really credited as a Cylon was Rex Cutter.
Yes. Most of the time we were doubling actors on the show so if you're credited it would be for that. It's because we were around and paid that we were put in the suit.
Any other anecdotes?
One of the problems that we had with the show was when you got into some big fire fight and they were shooting their laser guns at you. There's wasn't anything coming out of them. They just pointed it at you and they later put in the effect digitally. We never knew when we were supposed to get shot. You had to take your own decision when to fall after the actor pointed his gun at you. There were lots of times where we suggested to let someone simply fire a real gun off-stage so we knew when the effects was supposed to go off and fall. There was a lot of running and jumping, diving over stuff when the explosions went off behind you. I always enjoyed doing that kind of stuff in these shows.
Jack Gill stunt doubling for Barry Van Dyke in Galactica 1980
You continued to work on Galactica 1980 as well and also doubled for Barry Van Dyke. Can you remember some of the stunts you did on that?
I remember they were always trying to make it look cooler since they didn't have the effects the original show had. One thing I was involved with, since I have a motorcycle background, were the flying motorcycles. They built these motorcycles with a button on it, so the wings dropped out at the front and back of the motorcycle. We then drove off really fast and then they'd film the motorcycle that was on the side skid of a helicopter. The helicopter first flew close to the ground and then took off. They'd film me sitting on the motorcycle, so it looked like I was taking off on the motorcycle. Since the camera was inside the helicopter looking over me, it looked like I was flying. It was a little scared at first since we weren't sure if the motorcycle would stay on the skid. It was rigged on the side. It worked really well, so we used that a lot.
We also did this episode where we were leaping through a corn field ("Space Croppers"). They had this real 6 feet high corn field and they wanted it to make it look like we were weightless and we were leaping, making big jumps through the field. They put us up on this thing called the Russian Swing and we would hit airbags in the middle of the field. This swing would throw you 30 feet high in the air to this airbag. I was doing this with this other guy and while jumping I looked over to the left and saw he was missing his airbag. I knocked him over and that broke his shoulder and punctured a lung. He was pretty messed up.
We also did some wire jumping into 30 feet high trees in white tuxedos ("The Night the Cylons Landed"). They also wanted us to jump from the top of this tree onto this building. Back then the computer industry couldn't remove wires that easily. They had us on piano wires -- a really thin wire that was attached to each hip, going up to a crane. They'd lift you up out of the tree, you'd throw your arms up and you act like you're jumping from the tree to the top of this roof. They were taking us from a 30 feet tree to an 80 feet building.
I doubled for Barry Van Dyke and this other guy doubled for Kent McCord. While we were doing this jump one of his wires broke and he was going sideways. I thought for sure he would fall 60 feet and get killed, but he made it fine. The only bad thing about that was that we then had to do it again. Back in the eighties you had to have these really thin cables and they were very dangerous, most of the times.
They would twist the piano cable around this little eye where it was attached to your hip. I learned through trial and error that if you twist it too tight or too fast, the metal would get hot, wrinkle and it would eventually break when they lift you. You had to really watch the guy who was twisting it and tell him to twist it really slow. They were taking you up 60 feet and you didn't want to risk your life because they wanted to hurry through this.
I luckily never got dropped during the stunts with the piano wires, but I know several guys who did. One guy dropped into a lake while rehearsing and another guy dropped onto a mushy field, but he was only up 20 feet when the wire broke.
Jack Gill doing some wire jumping in Galactica 1980
What's the most dangerous stunt you personally did in all these years?
I think those piano wires were pretty dangerous. You have no control and you could just as well put a monkey in that suit. There's no ability, you just put your arms up and maintain your body in the harness. It's not like it takes a whole lot of ability. The problem is that you're risking your life every time you do it. You prompt the effect guys and make sure the crane doesn't move too fast. Nowadays they can simply use the really thick cables and digitally remove them. They can jerk you around however you want, since the cable will never break anyway.
Did you ever get seriously hurt doing a stunt?
I've been into the business for 30+ years and I've broken my back twice, my neck once, I cut my finger off and it had to be put back on. I have a titanium plate in my neck, some plates and screws in my ribs and both ankles. It kind of builds up after a while. You just hope you never get paralyzed or killed. If you can survive in this business long enough, you'll have accomplished something. Any stunt guy that says he's never really been hurt, I think never has done any big stunts and he kind of cruised through his career.
You're married and have two children. Did this change things for you, in the sense that you take less risk or would rather do coordinating than the stunts itself?
What really helped me is that I started coordinating on Knight Rider, early in my career, and moved into features as a coordinator. At that point I could still do the stunts if I wanted to, but I didn't have to. If you have a family you do think twice whether if you really want to risk your neck now or if you want to pass it onto somebody else. But it was still my passion and what I really wanted to do, until this day. I'm still doing rather radical car jumps, but I don't do as many as I used to do.
I've read that your children are also pursuing a career in stunts?
My son has been in the business since he was 8 years old. He was doing radical stunts as a kid. Now he's 21 and two years ago he came to me and said he wanted to learn to play the piano, so he took lessons. Now he's completely out of the stunt business. He's written 25 concertos that he's going to try and publish. He's very good on the piano. How he's done it, I don't know, but I think he's brilliant. It's what he loves to do, so that's what he should do, because the stunt business is dangerous. Now I don't have to worry if he's going to make it through some stunt. My parents had the same problem. I now understand that it's really difficult.
My daughter is an actress. She's been acting since she was 13 years old. The only time she does stunts, is when she's working for me or a friend of mine. Most of the time she's just acting.
What would be the most important thing any beginning stunt guy should learn first?
The biggest thing is to trust your common sense and practice all the time. You can't practice the really big dangerous stuff, but you can definitely get 25 feet up and jump into boxes or airbags. Just to get a feel on how your body falls. You can also train in water. I don't think you should light yourself on fire, because anybody can do a fire burn. The guys that prepare you are basically saving your life, so fire burns are easy. You should really learn how to drive a car. Buy a car for $500, take it out to a parking lot, set out some red cones and try to see how close you can get to them. There are many ways how you can learn some things we use in the business every day.
The problem you have nowadays with the new industry is that there are lots of lawyers involved now. You can't hire a guy that doesn't have any credits, because the lawyers say if they get hurt, we're liable. They want you to hire guys that already have credits, but how do they get credits if you can't hire them. Most of the stunt guys are trying to roll themselves in the stunt shows at Universal Studios or at Disney Land to get some kind of background that they can put on their resume.
You moved more towards being a stunt coordinator, an action director. How is it different being on the other side of the camera? Do you still do any stunts yourself?
I still do lots of stunts. I just did a big car chase on a picture last week. The good thing is that I now get to pick and chose what I want to do. It is very different. As a stunt guy you're told what to do and you figure it out with the stunt coordinator. When you move into the stunt coordinator field, you have to look at what is written and figure out what the director wants and how he sees it in his head for the movie. So that's a totally different approach. When you become secondary director, you have to figure out how to put it on film. You have to figure out which and every cut you're going to shoot for the stunt and try and make it all work, so the audience understands when you put it all together. You're the one that is going to capture how they see it.
Every single aspect of each job is very different. Some guys say you shouldn't make the transition and some guys also don't want to do it. For me it's been a very easy transition from stunt man to stunt coordinator to secondary director. I've also directed first shoot but I didn't really like it. It was too much studio involvement and everybody was constantly leaning over your shoulder and saying that this is what I should do. On second unit you don't get that. They leave you alone. At front they know exactly what you're doing and they'll bother the first shoot director. So I've been sticking at second unit directing and I'm enjoying that part of it.
You worked on many big blockbusters and popular TV series. Can you name some of the things you were really proud of doing, either because you got to work with an actor or director you really admire or because you're really proud how some action or stunt turned out on screen?
There's lots of them. I really liked The Rock. I doubled Nicolas Cage and drove that yellow Ferrari. We just had a blast on that even though we only had one Ferrari and Michael Bay said I couldn't wreck it. I had six other ones that were fake Ferrari's, but Michael Bay always wanted to use the real Ferrari for all the high speed car driving stuff. I couldn't even put a ding on it, so that was pretty tough.
I did Pearl Harbor, which was fun because we were actually at the real site where Pearl Harbor happened. It was kind of nostalgic for me and I enjoyed that part of it. I did Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. I've always wanted to drive NASCAR and I doubled Will Ferrell for almost three and a half months. We drove like 1,000 laps with that car and it was a blast doing that. Austin Powers with Mike Myers was fun. Director Jay Roach was fantastic to work with.
Jack Gill and Sandra Bullock
I worked with some really famous directors. I worked with James Cameron on Terminator II. I doubled the liquid metal guy, the T-1000. There's a lot of people over the years I enjoyed working with, like Sandra Bullock. I did three pictures with Sandy and she's the nicest, sweetest girl you could ever work with. She's very down to Earth, knows exactly what she wants, doesn't have an ego at all and she doesn't show up in a limo. She drives to set in a beat up Ford Falcon like everybody else. There are lots of actors, but I tend to gravitate towards her, because I very much enjoyed that experience. Some of the actors that have egos I tend to stay away from.
Anyone still on your wish list that you like to work with?
I've never worked with George Clooney and I'd love to try and do something with him. There are lots that I just know as a persona from seeing the publicity stuff, but I don't really know how they are on a set. But I think I'd love to work with Leonardo DiCaprio. He's a fantastic actor and is probably very professional on set. We'll see if it ever happens.
You won many stunt awards. Does it make it easier because you get better projects or does it make also more difficult because people have a higher expectations and are constantly pushing you to the limit?
It's a double edged sword. We first started out with the Fall Guy Awards and I won a couple of those and then they got into the Taurus World Stunt Awards and I also won those. I think the producers don't really care whether you have won it or haven't won it. They only care about your credits: How many movies have you done? What are the really big films that you've done?
I think if we had an Academy Award it would change their opinion of stunt coordinators. I've been trying to rally the Academy to make a category for stunt coordinators for 18 years now and have never been successful so far. The Academy believes that stunt coordinators aren't really needed and until that happens, it's not going to change as far as the way that people look at it after we won an award.
I even had a petition signed by 75-100 really famous actors, like Dustin Hoffman, director Martin Scorsese, director James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I went to all of them and they signed the petition, because they believe that stunt coordinators need a category in the Academy Awards. The Academy said: "Look, we make the decisions and not the actors and the directors." I've been stumped for 18 years and every year I tell them again that we'd like to be considered, but every year they tell me "No".
What are you currently working on? What are your future plans?
I created these two TV shows about my life and I'm the executive producer of both of them. They're not about my stunt life, but about 18 years ago I was contacted by an attorney who said: "I've got this horrific car accident where this woman is a quadriplegic from the accident. I need to prove to the audience that it wasn't her fault and I need to recreate this horrific car accident without killing or injuring your stunt man, to show to the jury." So he told me all about the accident, and he said: "I think the police were wrong and I want you to recreate it in real time with a real car and if we are correct, to show this to the jury so my client won't go to jail." I recreated the whole thing and it showed the police report was wrong. This woman was not going over the speed limit.
After that the attorney kept calling me all the time and I've done 75-100 of these accident recreations. They're all horrific accidents with vehicles and that's what the show is about. It's about recreating these accidents and what really happened. The jury gets to see what the attorney tells you, but the video we bring them doesn't really lie. It's an exact playback of what happened.
One show is a reality show where I come on as the host and recreate all these accidents that I've already done. The other show is a show with John Schneider, Bo Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard, playing me. We kind of made it a scripted show where he's solving murders as an insurance reenacting specialist.
I'll probably end up doing Wild Hogs II since I did the first Wild Hogs. They're dying to do the second one. I've had a lot on my plate these last two years and we'll have to see how these TV shows go. I can't pick up anything until I know if they're being picked up for a full season or not.
I wish you lots of luck and like to thank you again for taking the time to talk to me.
You bet. It was nice talking to you.
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