10 Hollywood Stunt Doubles You Never Knew You Loved

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Everybody has a favorite action movie star, but most of us don't know the stunt doubles behind those actors who keep them safe and looking pretty. They may not be household names, but you've definitely seen their work on TV and in the movies you watch over and over. Even though the craziest stunts are now mostly done on computers, stuntmen and women still play an important behind-the-scenes role in films, and it's nice to know there's someone out there who can jump off tall buildings or safely set themselves on fire. Here are 10 of the best stunt doubles you never even knew you loved.

  1. Terry Leonard

    Stuntman Terry Leonard has stood in for some of the biggest names in the business, including Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and John Wayne. Standing in for Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Leonard performed the scene where Indiana Jones crawls under a truck from the front to the back and is then dragged behind it. He agreed to only do this stunt if his friend and fellow stuntman Glenn H. Randall Jr. was driving the truck. Another praised stunt nearly cost Leonard his life. In Romancing the Stone, he doubles for Michael Douglas and jumps out of a car as it goes over a waterfall. He was caught in the whirlpool at the bottom and just barely made it out alive.

  2. Billy Morts

    Keanu Reeves may not be a great actor, but he has been doubled by a great stuntman. In Speed, the movie that takes place almost entirely on a speeding bus with a bomb strapped to it, Billy Morts does the dangerous work. Most notably, he jumps from a sports car onto the bus while moving at highway speeds, letting his feet drag the ground before pulling himself inside. Recently he's done stunt work for the Tom Cruise action film Knight and Day and is working on the next installment of the Mission Impossible franchise.

  3. Gary Powell

    Stunts are in Gary Powell's blood; his father was also a stuntman who worked on James Bond films during the eras of Sean Connery and Roger Moore. The younger Powell has worked on Bond, performing in the Pierce Brosnan versions. In The World Is Not Enough, Bond is in a small speedboat chasing an enemy down a river. In one shot, Powell jumps over the villain's boat, destroying the gun mounted on the back, and then spins 360 degrees before landing upright again. This kind of work earned him a promotion to stunt chief for Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. He's also appeared in or coordinated stunts for many other well known movies, such as some Harry Potter films and Braveheart.

  4. Simon Crane

    Simon Crane's most well known contribution to the world of stunts is the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive stunt ever performed. In the risky Cliffhanger scene, Crane stands in for a villain who takes his stolen money from one plane to another. Crane slid down a cable between two jets at 15,000 feet in the air. The stunt cost $1 million to complete and film, and when the movie's budget wasn't big enough to create the scene, Sylvester Stallone, who stars in the film, cut his salary by $1 million so it could be finished. Crane has worked on countless films since and has become one of Hollywood's best known stunt coordinators, working with stars like Angelina Jolie and on huge films like Titanic.

  5. Enos "Yakima" Canutt

    In the world of stunts, Enos "Yakima" Canutt is a legend. Take his work in John Wayne's Stagecoach, for example. He's working with unpredictable horses and lacking the technology we have today, yet he delivers thrilling performances without dying. The most famous stunt from this film is where he jumps from a horse onto the back of one of the horses pulling the stagecoach. When he is "shot" down, he falls between the horses and goes under the coach. To pull this off without being injured is an incredible feat. Canutt also choreographed some notable scenes, such as the chariot race in Ben Hur, where his son was actually driving one of the chariots and almost died when he unexpectedly flew over the front. The footage from that mistake was actually included in the film because he was able to hold on and pull himself back up, avoiding tragedy and adding excitement to the scene.

  6. Wayne Michaels

    In the opening scene of GoldenEye, James Bond makes a record-breaking bungee jump off of the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland. The man playing Bond for this crazy 728-foot jump was Wayne Michaels, who reached speeds as high as 120 mph during the trip down the dam. A story that circulated around the set said that as Michaels stood at the top of the dam ready to make the jump, he caught a glimpse of a crew member crossing himself. That couldn't have made him feel too confident. In addition to that enormous stunt, Michaels has coordinated stunts and performed in at least 80 films and TV series, including Indiana Jones movies and many British productions.

  7. Bud Ekins

    Famous for some masterful car chases, like the ones in Bullitt and The French Connection, Bud Ekins never really got due credit for his work. In the 1963 film The Great Escape, Ekins made a famed motorcycle jump over a fence at the end, standing in for Steve McQueen. He jumped more than 65 feet on a 400-pound bike, a feat that even the most experienced stunt drivers have to admit is impressive. But the producers credited McQueen with the jump and Ekins preferred to maintain his friendship with McQueen rather than get bogged down in the stardom of Hollywood. That jump was the start of his stunt career, though he also raced motorcycles on a team with McQueen and eventually opened up a bike shop.

  8. Rick Sylvester

    If you've sat through the opening credits of The Spy Who Loved Me, one of the best Roger Moore-era James Bond movies, you've seen Rick Sylvester. He's the guy who made the ski jump off the cliff and then released a Union Jack parachute as he was falling. He was paid $30,000 for the stunt, which ended up being the most expensive stunt to film ever at that point in time. The stunt, though successful, was just another reminder of how dangerous a stuntman's work is; as Sylvester deployed the parachute, one of the skis got caught. Luckily, it came free and didn't keep the parachute from opening properly.

  9. Vic Armstrong

    Vic Armstrong was named the most prolific stuntman by the Guinness Book of World Records and is often referred to as the world's greatest stuntman. One of his most famous roles as stunt double was in the Indiana Jones films. In one impressive stunt in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he jumps from the back of a horse onto a tank. Armstrong reportedly looked so much like Harrison Ford, people were often confusing him for Ford on set. He even did several action sequences in Ford's place when Ford injured his back. Armstrong also did stunt work on Superman for Christopher Reeve and is married to a stuntwoman, Wendy Leech.

  10. Howard Curtis

    Most people don't go in for a day of work that involves jumping off a cliff into a rushing river, but that's what Howard Curtis is most famous for. Although he worked on many other famous movies, like Moonraker and The Deer Hunter, the stunt most people remember was in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He doubled for Paul Newman, Mickey Gilbert stood in for Robert Redford, and the two of them leaped off a crane that was hidden by a painting of cliffs into the water below. Curtis actually died 10 years later skydiving, though not for a stunt; he was trying to help an amateur skydiver who was tangled in his parachute.

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