Jon Bernthal Thinks ‘It’s a Crime’ the Oscars Don’t Have This Category

An Academy Award is generally recognized as the highest honor anyone working in the film industry can earn. However, the political machinations behind the scenes have somewhat tainted the supposed sanctity of the prizes themselves. Remember last year’s controversy over who would host the Oscars? What about the nixed Popular Film category?

Case in point, the Academy Awards get a lot of flack for the many ways in which the ceremony could be improved. For instance, many in the industry want to see the show add an award for recognizing stunt performers. The most recent celebrity to advocate for a stunt Oscar? None other than The Punisher star Jon Bernthal.

Jon Bernthal on the red carpet | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Jon Bernthal on the red carpet | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Jon Bernthal stands up for stunt performers

On his now-canceled Marvel Netflix show, Bernthal worked very closely with The Punisher‘s stunt team. But he’s also appeared in action-heavy films like Baby Driver, Sicario, and Fury. So, in a recent interview, the actor shared the deep respect he’s developed for stunt performers.

They’re my brothers, they’re the people I’m closest with on set. I think it’s absolutely a crime there’s not an Academy Award for stunt performers. The stunt community, they’re the ones really putting it on the line. The creativity that comes out of the stunt community is mind-boggling. I think nowadays, it’s one of the key reasons why people go and seek out entertainment, because of how good the stunts are, and there are people actually doing that. I train with those guys every day, I try to go in full-out. It’s kind of the mantra of a stunt guy, ‘Do it hard, do it once.’ Don’t pull a punch, because then you’re gonna have to do it 15 times. ‘Just hit me, and do it once.’ So we try to kind of live by that.

Bernthal’s on-screen physicality and active lifestyle naturally lend themselves to a more close-knit relationship with stunt teams. But he also makes an important point about how integral stunt performers are to creating the thrills and spectacle moviegoers expect. How would John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum — one of the year’s biggest hits — work otherwise?

The actor isn’t alone in his support

Bernthal may be the latest to share his support for the stunt community, but he certainly isn’t the first. Stars as diverse as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Helen Mirren have endorsed more recognition for stunt performers over the years. Of course, actors like Bernthal work hand in hand with some of Hollywood’s best stunt teams, and this gives them a unique perspective of the contribution stunt performers bring to each project.

Even in today’s effects-driven blockbusters, stunt performers have a pivotal role to play. Just ask Brie Larson. The Captain Marvel star took her two stunt doubles onstage with her to accept the Best Fight Scene statuette at the MTV Movie & TV Awards. In doing so, Larson made a clear statement about the unsung work stunt performers are doing and the need for a change.

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@apelaesthetic thanks for the work brother.

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Will the Oscars add a new category?

But will a change ever come? On one hand, the men and women of Hollywood’s stunt teams put their physical safety at risk to bring these stories to life. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the governing body awarding the Oscars — is slow to adjust with the times.

Last year’s controversy aside, it’s been nearly 20 years since the most recent Oscar category, Best Animated Feature, was added to the roster. Sure, the rules have been tweaked a bit; most notably, the Academy expanded Best Picture to up to 10 nominees. Still, the Academy has yet to decide how to recognize motion-capture work, relegating it to Best Visual Effects instead.

On a more encouraging note, the membership of the Academy is definitely changing. Recent years have seen a greater effort toward inclusion and diversity, which means such a movement is perhaps more likely than ever. If the Academy is truly interested in embracing a broader appreciation for the folks involved in the movie business, a Best Stunt Team Oscar would be a great step in the right direction.