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Stunt Doubles Who Look Nothing Like The Actors

When a movie character is jumping out of a building, fighting bad guys or driving a sports car way too fast, the audience is probably not looking too closely at their face. And that's just as well because unless it's Tom Cruise, Jackie Chan or Michelle Yeoh, the person doing those stunts is probably not the actor you paid $15 to see. (Yes, this is why there are so many movie scenes that nearly killed Tom Cruise.)

Chances are you won't even notice during the thrill of the chase. And neuroscience is on Hollywood's side too. When we see multiple faces in a short space of time, our brains are programmed to mesh them into one hybrid picture. But in the age of on-set photos and pause buttons, it's much easier to tell when it's the stunt double taking the punches. Especially since some stunt doubles look nothing like the people they're doubling for.

There's an obvious reason for this. Finding stunt professionals who closely match the physique of someone like, say, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a tall order. (In the Rock's case, the producers of Skyscraper hired his cousin, Tanoai Reed, to double for him.) However, it's still fun to step away from the action and marvel at how totally we've been tricked. Meet the stunt doubles who look nothing like the actors whose dirty work they've been doing.

Chad Stahelski doubled for Keanu Reeves and then directed him

Neo may be the Chosen One but he was played by more than one actor. (And nearly by Will Smith: missing out on the role is one of his biggest career regrets.) Stuntman Chad Stahelski is four years younger than Keanu Reeves and has been performing stunts for movies and TV since 1993. Early in his career he earned a dubious place in Hollywood history when he stood in for Brandon Lee for reshoots of The Crow after Lee was accidentally killed on set.

If you were going to cast Stahelski as a double for anyone, you might note that he looks more like the improbable love child of Alec Baldwin and George Clooney (which is no bad thing.) Yet he's said that he got the job in The Matrix because his boss on another project thought he looked like Reeves.

Whether or not you agree about the physical resemblance, the pair became a solid team. Stahelski doubled for Reeves again on the aptly named The Replacements and in The Matrix Reloaded, Constantine, and Thumbsucker. He also coordinated the martial arts stunts in The Matrix Revolutions.

After a long career in TV and films, including doubling for David Boreanaz in Angel and doing stunts in Wild Wild West and Jumper, Stahelski mostly coordinates now. However, he's also found time to move to the director's chair for the highly successful John Wick franchise, starring his old friend Reeves.

Thank Sophia Crawford for those incredible Buffy stunts (Sarah Michelle Gellar didn't)

Chad Stahelski also played a demon in the ultimate stunt show of the '90s: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Fight us over it if you want.) But the person doing the majority of the stunt work on the show was British stuntwoman Sophia Crawford.

Crawford was 11 years older than star Sarah Michelle Gellar. She learned martial arts in Hong Kong while working as an actress, then moved to Hollywood and started doing stunt work. She doubled for Gellar in 1997's Scream 2 and for the first four seasons of Buffy.

For a while, it was a fun job. Crawford even met her future husband Jeff Pruitt on set: he joined the show as stunt coordinator in season two. She says that they made an excellent team, but the same wasn't true for her and Gellar.

Buffy creator Joss Whedon was keen to protect his star, which meant Crawford was the one taking and throwing punches. Crawford has said that Gellar realized it was smart to leave the fighting to the professionals — but there are also rumors that Gellar was jealous of the attention her stunt double received for her impressive moves. Gellar also continually claimed that she did her own stunts, which ultimately pushed Pruitt and Crawford to leave the show after season four. Crawford continued working consistently, performing stunts in shows including Veronica Mars, Angel and Sons of Anarchy.

Eunice Huthart makes Angelina Jolie look like a beautiful badass

It doesn't take much to make Angelina Jolie look beautiful, but stuntwoman Eunice Huthart is a pro at the tougher job of making her look like a badass. She's the one who brought action heroine Lara Croft's greatest moves to life, who gave us one half of the world's most dangerous couple in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and had CIA agent Evelyn jumping across the roofs of sixteen-wheelers in Salt. And we've got bought it every time, even though Huthart is nine years Jolie's senior (a beanie disguises stuntwomen and spies!)

Before she stepped into Jolie's shoes, Huthart was something of a hero in her native Liverpool, UK. In 1994 she went from managing a McDonald's to winning Gladiators, the UK version of American Gladiators. She went on to win the female International Championship and then became a Gladiator with the nickname Blaze, participating in some of the live shows. In 1995 she switched back to being a contender and came runner-up in Gladiators: The Ashes before winning the Battle of Champions. In between all of this, she became European kickboxing champion, ranked third in the world.

Huthart isn't done with Hollywood yet. She's done stunts for the Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter franchises, teamed up with Jolie again for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and was stunt coordinator for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Diego Guerra's beard is a dead giveaway that he's not Penelope Cruz

When you're a hairy-faced dude doubling for one of the most beautiful women in the world, the least you can do is shave. But to be fair to stuntman Diego Guerra, he was probably more focused on his upcoming motorcycle stunt than the state of his facial hair when he stepped in for Penelope Cruz in Zoolander 2.

The practice of using male stuntmen to double for female actors is called "wigging" and it's not popular with female stunt performers. Women are already a minority in the industry and resent watching men don a wig to double for an actress instead of finding a woman to do the job. There are also few people of color working in the stunt industry. In the past, white actors have put on blackface to double for actors of color (known as a "paint down.")

In 2016, veteran stuntwoman Deven MacNair took a stand after a male stunt coordinator chose to double for Kate Bosworth in a driving stunt on The Domestics rather than let her take the wheel. MacNair filed a complaint with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The production was cautioned but not fined, and MacNair found her stunt work drying up. She now mainly works as a coordinator and with SAG-AFTRA's Diversity in Casting Incentive trying to get more people of color and women into stunts.

Daniel Arroyo gave Jennifer Lopez some sweet parkour moves for Follow the Leader

If you caught her 2019 hit Hustlers and the halftime show that outdid all the Super Bowl 2020 movie trailers and TV spots, you know that Jennifer Lopez has dance moves no one can beat. (Except possibly Shakira.)

But Lopez needed a little help with the stunts in the video for Wisin & Yandel's 2012 song "Follow the Leader," which she featured on. Filmed in Mexico, the video sees J-Lo's character pursued through the sunny streets, jumping from building to building and pulling off gymnastic moves. For those parts she was doubled by Daniel Arroyo, a parkour expert 18 years her junior. Like J-Lo, Arroyo is of Puerto Rican descent — and he looks good with long hair.

Arroyo says he was an active kid, getting involved in a range of sports including soccer, breakdancing, baseball, wrestling and basketball. He was always climbing and jumping off things, but it was in 2009 that he started serious parkour training. That year he competed in MTV's Ultimate Parkour Challenge, and he also coached an episode of Made for the channel.

Arroyo says that parkour became a way for him to cope with the deaths of his grandparents and father, who all died in 2010. In 2013 he doubled for Jaden Smith in the parkour scenes of After Earth. And he has a YouTube channel that's less popular than J-Lo's but has a lot more stunts.

Quvenzhané Wallis's double is no child star

Quvenzhané Wallis had one of the most prestigious debuts of any child star. She landed the lead role in 2012's Beasts of the Southern Wild when she was five and couldn't even read the script, and was seven when filming wrapped. Her performance saw her become the youngest actor ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, at the age of nine. (She lost out to Jennifer Lawrence.)

But no matter how talented young actors are, they have to abide by rules that limit what they can do. That's why Wallis was spotted with an adult double on the streets of New York while she was filming the 2014 musical Annie.

You might think Annie isn't exactly full of action sequences, but what counts as a stunt is pretty broad when kids are involved. The Screen Actors Guild's (SAG) Young Performers Handbook says that even everyday activities like riding a bike, walking along a high wall, or climbing a fence can count as stunts when it's a minor doing it. Being a passenger in a high-speed chase with a stunt driver is out too.

However, Wallis' doubles didn't get all the fun: she got to fly in a helicopter. She told Young Hollywood that she wasn't bothered by the height but it made her nauseous, so maybe it's just as well she's keeping her feet firmly on the ground and highly supervised.

Kara Petersen got to do Ty Simpkins' coolest Jurassic World moment

For some of the stunts in the Jurassic World franchise, the hardest part is looking convincingly terrified of animatronic or non-existent dinosaurs. And also running in high heels.

But when kids are involved, even something as simple as running or standing at the edge of a cliff can be considered a stunt that requires a double. So when you watch Ty Simpkins' Gray jump from the top of a waterfall pursued by the Indominus Rex, you can be pretty sure that the person making that leap was actually his fully adult stunt double Kara Petersen.

You've probably seen Petersen before (not that you'd know, of course.) At only 4'11" she often doubles for kids and teens, including Dove Cameron in Disney Channel show Liv and Maddie, Chelsey Valentine in American Horror Story, Hayley McFarland in Sons of Anarchy, and Sean Giambrone in The Goldbergs.

She does get to act her age sometimes, doubling for actors including Drew Barrymore in The Santa Clarita Diet and America Ferrera in Superstore. She's also performed stunts in NCIS, Glee, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawaii Five-0 and The Hunger Games (which was coordinated by Chad Stahelski.)

Emily Brobst was with Chandler Riggs for that pudding scene in The Walking Dead

When a show has a lot of kids who are about the same age and appearance and all facing dystopian peril, their stunt double might be the same person. At 4'10" Emily Brobst has played multiple kids in The Walking Dead

She doubled for Chandler Riggs in the pudding scene of season four episode nine — the one that required Carl to sit on a roof. (Possibly the least dangerous moment in the kid's childhood.) She also doubled for fellow zombie-besieged kids played by Luke David Blumm (Linus), Macsen Lintz (Henry), and Elle Graham (Winnie). And she's turned traitor and played a walker.

Although there are many adult actors who refuse to do their own stunts, many want to try them (or at least claim that they do) and some child stars are up for it too. Riggs has said that as he got older, the Walking Dead creators allowed him to do more of Carl's stunts. He told Daily Dead that he usually got a chance to at least try the stunt himself, adding, "It was really fun — and sometimes more painful — to be way more involved."

Away from The Walking Dead, Brobst has played her fair share of kids of various ages getting into trouble. She's doubled for Good Girls' Izzy Stannard, Daisy Tahan in The Nice Guys, and the much-doubled Ty Simpkins as Harley Keener in Iron Man 3.

Basil Clapham is the horse-riding Ian McKellen and Paul Randall is the tall one

While playing Gandalf, Sir Ian McKellen had not one but three doubles to get the franchise's award-winning visuals right.

Paul Randall played McKellen's scale double: his job was to make the actors playing hobbits and dwarves look short. According to J.R.R. Tolkien — the only man who would know — hobbits are between two and four feet tall on average, while dwarves are four to five feet.

Randall is 7'1", a height that has earned him the unimaginative but fitting nickname Tall Paul. He doubled for McKellen in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, and also stood in for other actors including Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom. Away from Middle-earth, he works as a policeman in his native New Zealand.

So if Gandalf is standing next to a hobbit in Lord of the Rings, he's probably being played by Randall. If he's riding on a horse, you're looking at Basil Clapham. Clapham performed Gandalf's riding stunts in Lord of the Rings — of which there are many. For The Hobbit trilogy, McKellen was doubled by Michael Homick. Homick has a good eye for picking iconic fantasy dramas: he also performed in several episodes of Game of Thrones.

Debbie Evans is tougher than actresses 20 years younger

Hollywood legend Debbie Evans was born in 1958 and she's still performing stunts people half her age would shudder at.

Evans started out as a pro motorcyclist, so she specializes in driving very fast and dangerously. She's in numerous Fast and Furious films, including doubling for Michelle Rodriguez in 2015's Fast and Furious 7. Other actresses she's made look like action stars include Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder. She has played one heroine older than herself: in Terminator: Dark Fate she doubled for Linda Hamilton, who is two years Evans' senior.

You've also seen her stunts in classics like '80s series Knight Rider, Spider-Man 2, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and Bad Boys 2. But her most iconic scene is the motorcycle chase in The Matrix Reloaded, in which Trinity and Neo drive straight into four lanes of oncoming traffic. Evans said that on the fifth attempt, a driver who was supposed to move over for her hadn't cleared the lane and ended up driving into her leg. "We took a little ride in the ambulance," she laughed.

As you'd expect, Evans has been through more injuries than those of us who get our kicks on couches rather than motorcycles, including one that put her in the hospital for 19 days with multiple broken bones. Although she thought about quitting after that, she told Today Extra, "I realized that this is what I was meant to do."

Ilram Choi is a real life superhero who looks nothing like Andrew Garfield

Marvel's creative visionary Stan Lee always believed that the reason Spider-Man appealed to so many people was because he could be anybody under the mask. (Which means he can be a pig, a noir detective or Gwen Stacy.) And when he was played by Andrew Garfield, he was four people: Garfield and his three stunt doubles, including Ilram Choi.

Not only is Choi Korean American while Garfield is a Caucausian Brit, he's also nine years older than the actor. (We're guessing he didn't earn what Andrew Garfield made from playing Spider-Man either.)

Given the choice, Choi has said he'd most like to be Superman, but he has had the chance to play more superheroes than even the most devoted Avengers cosplayer. He doubled for Tadanobu Asano (aka Hodun) in Thor and has performed stunts in Independence Day: Resurgence, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. He can use his superpowers for evil too: he played an Extremis solider in Iron Man 3.

As a stunt performer who's spent time in the world's most famous web-slinger's costume, it was fitting that he was chosen to help bring the next iteration to life. He choreographed the fights for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Nice to know something amazing came out of the Amazing Spider-Man films.