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Stuntman Reveals What It's Really Like Training Keanu Reeves, Adam Driver, Denzel Washington And More - Exclusive

Looper recently spoke with Stephen Oyoung — actor, stuntman, martial artist, and all around good guy. He was most recently seen as Tectonic in the first episode of "Jupiter's Legacy," but you've likely seen him in movies and TV shows over the years ... usually getting killed. "I always call myself the Sean Bean of Asian-American actors," he says, "because I feel like I die in everything. It's so random. You name a TV show, I've probably died in it somehow throughout my career." He's been killed by everyone from Jennifer Garner to Donnie Yen. 

He's also been killed by actors he trained for the fight scene in question. Outside his acting and stunt work, Oyoung has spent the last few decades working as a fight choreographer and trainer. This has put him in close proximity to some of Hollywood's biggest stars, and he told Looper about working with three in particular: Keanu Reeves, Adam Driver, and Denzel Washington.

He has nothing but praise for Keanu Reeves

Stephen Oyoung served as fight choreographer for "47 Ronin." It was his first samurai film and saw him working with Keanu Reeves. This was something of a personal milestone: Oyoung lists "The Matrix" as a formative movie for him, one that convinced him to give showbusiness a try. He has nothing but positive things to say about Reeves, calling him an "awesome guy." "... Every time I'll say, 'Hey, Keanu, it's me, Stephen from '47 Ronin.' Remember me?' And he's always so cool. He always says, 'Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. I remember you.' And of course, he doesn't remember me because there's a million people he meets every day. Why would he meet little old me? But he's such a class act."

He further praised Reeves' ability to quickly learn fight choreography, saying that "He can pick up 50 beats of fighting." Beyond that, Oyoung praised him on a personal level — and recounted another chance encounter: "I just happened to randomly get killed by him on 'John Wick 3' as well, in the big Chinatown knife scene. He's great. He's super great."

On working with Adam Driver

Stephen Oyoung spent some time training Adam Driver for "The Force Awakens." Oyoung came in with experience in the "Star Wars" universe, having performed stunts via motion capture for video games "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II" and "Star Wars: The Old Republic." This taught him an important lesson: "No matter how many times you do a lightsaber fight, no matter how many times you rehearse, you always do the [lightsaber] sounds subconsciously with your mouth." This went beyond just him: it came up when training Driver. 

"First day we were rocking with the lightsabers and he would just be [mouthing lightsaber noises]," Oyoung said. "Me too! And I had to remind him, 'Hey man, we've got to stop. Because when they film, you're going to start doing that. And then they're going to catch you. And it's going to be strange. You don't want to get into the habit.'" So any time you see Kylo Ren on screen, remember: he had to be taught not to make lightsaber noise.

As for Driver himself, Oyoung has "only good stories about Adam." He said that Driver is "just a normal dude," further noting that "It's actually very reassuring when you can work with an A-lister who's actually nice, professional and just cool, somebody you'd want to get a beer with or something." Driver's had an unconventional life: the Marines, Julliard, and now Hollywood megastar. "But he's always remained humble and hardworking."

Denzel Washington is a class act

Stephen Oyoung did fight choreography for Denzel Washington in "The Equalizer." Oyoung calls Washington "a class act." In addition to setting up the fight scenes, Oyoung had a small role in the film as a goon, one who gets killed by Washington's character.

Washington has experience as a boxer — he learned it for the role of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in 1999, but also boxed in his youth and counts himself as a boxing fan. This led to what Oyoung calls a humbling experience: "Stephen Oyoung, master martial artist, I get in there and I say, 'All right D, I'm going to show you how it's done. I'm going to show you some moves.' And he just goes, 'Yeah. Okay. So it's like that.' He looks at it once. He's got some kind of mind, man. He looks at it once and you think he doesn't have it. Then he does the rehearsal. Perfect."

Oyoung also took a big lesson from working with Washington: "The camera loves you, baby!" It's not about overexertion. "As long as you're just relaxed, you don't have to push. You don't have to make people see your emotion. The camera can see your emotion." Washington in particular excels at this: "You're like, 'He's so quiet. I don't even see that he's doing anything.' And then you watch the film. I'm watching, I'm like, 'This guy's intense. He's the most intense actor I've ever seen in my life.'"

Viewers can catch Stephen Oyoung as Tectonic in "Jupiter's Legacy" on Netflix.