8 Actors Who Do Their Own Dangerous Stunts

Acting isn’t all glamour and glitz. In fact, it can be downright dirty and painful, especially when actors decide to do their own stunts. While actors often opt for a stunt double to take on their action sequences, there are a few select celebs who choose to skip the double and do it themselves. Why do they do it? Many believe it’s more authentic and makes the scenes more believable. Who are the stars willing to risk their necks to make a movie a little bit better? Here’s a look at eight of Hollywood’s bravest.

1. Angelina Jolie

Salt, Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie in movie ‘Salt | ‘Source: Columbia Pictures

Jolie does 99% of her own stunts, says Simon Crane, who has worked with Jolie on several movie sets. In 2010, she revealed she did her own stunts for the film Salt, an action movie where she played Evelyn Salt, an FBI agent who goes on the run after being accused of being a Russian spy. To prep for fight scenes, Jolie had to learn a combination of Muay Thai and Krav Maga, which she did for two-hour sessions three to four times a week. Some of her stunts included walking on a narrow ledge atop a 12-story building and diving through an opening door while firing a gun.

“During her final fight Liev [Schrieber] … She had to dive through an opening door firing a gun … as she carried the sequence on, she rushed into a corner piece of a set and bumped her head,” Crane says in a US Weekly article.  Recently, Jolie performed her own stunts while filming Maleficent, the Disney adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, where an action scene required her to be suspended above the ground before flinging herself into the air.

2. Zoë Bell

Zoe Bell, Death Proof
Zoë Bell in ‘Death Proof’ | Source: Dimension Films

Bell was Uma Thurman’s stunt double in Kill Bill, where she was so impressive that famous film director Quentin Tarantino sought her out for one of his next movies. He was looking for a leading lady who could handle her own stunts for 2007’s Death Proof and decided Bell was the perfect choice. Not only did she do her own stunt driving, at one point the daredevil was even asked to cling to the hood of a moving Dodge Charger.

“As far as I was concerned there was going no other way, and who knows about the future but as far as I’m concerned I would always like to do my own stunts because I love doing them. I think what’s so brilliant about having an actor who does her own stunts, or a stuntwoman who does her own acting — depending on which way you want to look at it — is there’s a genuineness to it that when you’re watching it there’s a gut reaction, a sense of reality. It’s beyond just being aware there’s a stunt double in the scene,” Bell said during a Rotten Tomatoes interview. She also did her own roller skating in Whip It!, although the stunts were a little less dangerous.

3. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman
Kristen Stewart in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ | Source: Roth Films

Stewart performed her own stunts while shooting the Twilight series. But even more impressive is she also performed her own action scenes in Snow White and the Huntsman, a feat that required her to overcome her fear of horses.

“[Director] Rupert [Sanders] beat me up. He definitely threw me off cliffs and made me trudge through frigid, icy waters. It looks so cool, though,” Stewart said in a Hollywood Life article. “I can actually see the pain and discomfort on my face. It’s awesome.”

Some of her more risky scenes includes hanging upside down (which may not sound that hard, but it certainly is if you have to do it for most of the afternoon), as well as several intense fighting scenes that required armored suits.

4. Harrison Ford

Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford in ‘Indiana Jones’ | Source: Paramount Pictures

What’s so impressive about Ford? The actor performed his own stunts while filming the Indiana Jones series, a role that required him to dangle from helicopters and crash cars into buses.

“It’s true, there was a lot of physical action,” Ford said in an Anything Hollywood article. “It was fun to do. I still enjoy doing that stuff. I was in good shape for it all, and trained during the film just to make sure there weren’t any accidents. I wanted to be in the best possible shape, to be able to do as much as possible.”

He was so gung-ho about doing his own stunts that his stuntman on set, Vic Armstrong, had to step in and prevent Ford from doing some of the most dangerous action sequences in the film. When reasoning didn’t work, Armstrong says he told Ford if he kept doing all the stunts, he wouldn’t get paid, per ShortList.

5. Jackie Chan

police story, Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan in ‘Police Story’ | Source: Golden Way Films Ltd.

This actor and stuntman has done everything. He’s participated in some of the most well-known and intense fight scenes in Hollywood history, and has been called crazy for stunts such as base jumps onto hot air balloons and roller skating under speeding trucks, per Cracked. One of the reasons Chan is so respected in the film industry is because of the authenticity that comes with each of his movies. While filming Police Story, Chan leapt onto a metal pole covered in lights, and exploded down it, shattering through an unbroken pane of glass. Without a camera cut, he then climbed from the ruins of a kiosk he fell on so that he could hold a shard of glass against another man’s neck. One thing’s for sure — it’s certainly a little bit more intense than a nine to five desk job!

6. Jason Statham

expendables 2, Jason Statham
Jason Statham in ‘The Expendables 2’ | Source: Millennium Films

Statham has been doing his own stunts from the very beginning of his career, a move which has caused him to become Hollywood’s go-to action actor, starring in action movies such as Snatch, The Transporter, and The Expendables. But his reputation has caused Statham to constantly try and outdo himself, he revealed during a CBS interview. “Dug my own hole, if you like. One of the first action films I did. We didn’t have any — any financial reserves to do any green screen or add any sort of a enhancement to any of the stunts. So you know, I ended up doing all my own stunts. So now it’s an expectation. And so it’s a sticky situation I can’t seem to get out of,” he said.

While filming the Expendables 3, co-star Terry Crews revealed to Jay Leno that Statham had a dangerous mishap while on set. The stunt called for Statham to drive a truck, stop it, get out, and shoot. However, the truck didn’t stop and went over the dock into the Black Sea with Statham still driving. What did Statham do? He got out and swam to the top; meanwhile, the truck sank behind him.

7. Tom Cruise

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol’ | Source: Paramount Pictures

Long known for doing his own stunts, Cruise doesn’t have plans of slowing down anytime soon. He’s done his own stunts in the Mission Impossible series, Minority Report, and War Of the Worlds – to name a few. While filming 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Cruise pushed his stunts to the max. He not only climbed, but also ran down the mirrored glass exterior of the Burj Khalifa, the 181-story, 2,723-foot-tall skyscraper in Dubai that holds the record for the highest structure ever built, per Yahoo Movies.

Cruise did have a stunt double on set; however, the only thing the double did was test out the safety rigging  – every stunt performed was done by Cruise. In the first Mission: Impossible movie, Cruise performed a stunt that required thousand-gallon aquariums to explode around him, sending 16 tons of water straight toward him. In the third movie in the series, Cruise was pulled into the air by a cable, and for another scene was required to crash into the side of a car.

8. Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, James Bond
Daniel Craig in ‘Casino Royale’ | Source: Columbia Pictures

In true James Bond fashion, Craig opted to do his own action sequences for the Bond films. The Telegraph writes that a stunt Craig performed in Casino Royale have been deemed the best James Bond stunt of all time.

“It was important to me that I do as many of my own stunts as possible for authenticity,” he has said. “I wanted to be seen jumping from crane to crane, physically exerting myself. I didn’t get fit just to take my shirt off.” So, what exactly did he have to do? During the opening scene of the 2006 film, Craig chased a bad guy into a building site, battled him 200 feet from the ground, and then performed a death-defying crane jump.

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