When the Academy Awards roll around, we’re all on the edge of our seats, eagerly anticipating the awards for “Best Picture,” “Best Actor,” and “Best Actress,” among many other awards given to various workers in the film industry. Yet, one group of workers is deliberately forgotten, year after year: stunt actors. Action film star and stunt actor, Jason Statham, serves as an advocate for stunt actors because he believes they deserve awards as well, and we agree with him wholeheartedly.
There is a petition for a stunt actor category, and the Academy has voted on this issue several times, but it has always been declined, which Statham says is “a total injustice.” Some people think he’s being dramatic, but everyone says that Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscars snub is an injustice, and he’s at least been nominated before. Stunt actors have never even been awarded that recognition.
First and foremost, we all need to realize that performing stunts is incredibly dangerous. Statham himself nearly drowned during the filming of Expendables 3 when the brakes failed on the truck he was driving, causing it to plunge into the sea. It was only because of Statham’s strong swimming skills that he was able to survive. While these types of accidents aren’t very common, stunt performers do put their lives on the line to perform driving, fighting, and explosion scenes (among many others) in place of the actors, knowing those accidents are always a possibility. They do it every day, just for the sake of our enjoyment.
Can you imagine how different movies like Transformers and Die Hard would be without stunts? They probably wouldn’t be anyone’s favorite movie; actually, they probably wouldn’t even be movies!. Stunt actors’ roles are considerably more dangerous than those of standard actors, but they are never recognized for their efforts. Statham says of stunt actors: “They’re risking their necks. Then you have some guy standing in front of a f**king green screen screwing his face up, pretending like he’s doing a stunt...a farce.”
Since Statham performs his own stunts, he knows how perilous it can be and how talented stunt actors have to be to pull off those stunts.Years ago, actors were expected to perform their own stunts even without proper training, but that isn’t a reality today. Statham says that this is because the audience can tell if an actor isn’t skilled enough to perform a stunt. So, stunt doubles have to train for years to achieve the level of coordination needed to be displayed in films, whether it’s jumping from buildings or fighting off a group of swarming attackers. Actors are praised for being brave or talented if they play a controversial or emotionally draining role, so why aren’t stunt actors given the same accolades for literally putting their lives at risk to perform a role? That’s bravery and talent if we’ve ever heard it. Statham performs many of his own incredible stunts in a variety of movies, which no doubt requires endless training, but it’s not even a possibility for him to win an Academy Award for his efforts.
One reason that the Academy cites for not giving awards to stunt actors is that a lot of the time, multiple stunt actors perform stunts for one actor throughout the course of filming a single movie, so it would be more difficult to determine who should receive the award. Despite this, we believe this excuse is not valid for the following reasons. During the filming of a movie, the producers and crew obviously keep track of who is performing each stunt, just like which actor is performing which role. So even if a stunt actor doesn’t perform every stunt for an actor in a movie, he or she can (and should) still be judged on the stunts he or she did perform. This is no different from how all movies have more than one supporting actor/actress, but not all of them receive an Academy Award nomination. One (at most) does. Supporting actors aren’t onscreen the entire time and there any many of them, but if they add something monumental to the film, they are applauded for it. Stunt actors on the other hand? Nothing. Not even if a movie is almost entirely composed of stunts and action scenes.
In conclusion, not only does the Academy need to start recognizing the hard work of stunt actors, we as an audience need to as well because all of the movies we hold dear would not be the same without stunt actors. Some of these stunt actors have died filming their stunts, and we never hear about it. But if an actor dies on set, we know. There’s something wrong with that picture. Actors are obviously very talented themselves, and by recognizing stunt actors, we are not trying to demean traditional actors and their contributions to the film industry. However, by not recognizing stunt actors, we are demeaning those who risk their lives (and some who have given their very lives) just for our own entertainment.
Join in by signing the petition for Stunt Actor Recognition.