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Former John Wick Stuntman Has Some Surprising Words About The Oscars

More than 30 years after he started in the business with fellow stuntman-turned-filmmaker Chad Stahelski, J.J. Perry has finally been given his first crack at directing with "Day Shift," a new Netflix original action horror comedy that pits a vampire hunter (Jamie Foxx) and his tag-along (Dave Franco) against a particularly nasty crew of bloodsuckers. It's the pinnacle of Perry's career thus far, having risen in the ranks from stunt performer to stunt coordinator, to first assistant director and second unit director over the course of his illustrious career.

Among Perry's credits are the first two "John Wick" films, which were directed by Stahelski. Perry was a stunt player in the first hyperkinetic revenge thriller starring Keanu Reeves in 2014 and served as the supervising stunt coordinator for "John Wick: Chapter 2" in 2017. "Day Shift" marks yet another collaboration with Stahelski, as his longtime friend serves as the film's producer.

With a myriad of stunt performances under his belt — Perry told Looper in an exclusive interview that he's performed in 150 films and 300 television episodes — the "Day Shift" helmer has certainly had his share of industry recognition. Among the fetes, Perry and his fellow stunt performers earned a best stunt ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild for their work in 2008's "Iron Man." The SAG Awards are, of course, one of the top industry awards next to the Oscars, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still has yet to implement an honor for stunt work. 

Perry has his opinion on the matter — but surprisingly, his thoughts aren't exactly what movie fans may expect.

Perry says he didn't get into the business to win trophies

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about his directorial debut on "Day Shift" after a career loaded with stunt work, J.J. Perry was asked whether it was time to honor stunt performers with Oscars. Perry said that while he's an Academy member, he noted that he doesn't see it happening.

"I don't do this job for trophies," he said. "I do it because it's a lot of fun [...] I don't ever have to grow up. I'm 54 years old. But I also think that a lot of my stunt brothers and sisters want Oscars, and I hope they get them."

In a way, Perry explained, awarding Oscars to stunt performers disassembles the craft of moviemaking. "My take on it is that the minute you say the stunt performer did it, you're taking away from the actor," Perry told THR. "The minute you say a stunt coordinator choreographed or did the action, you're taking away from the director. Right? So that's why I don't think we'll get it. For me, it's not why I do it."

In contrast, a 2020 Collider interview saw Chad Stahelski and "John Wick" co-director David Leitch voice their support for the stunt Oscar idea. The quandary is this: Who would actually receive the award since stunt work is such of an intricate, collaborative process that involves coordinators, choreographers and of course, the stunt performers themselves? 

"Who walks up and gets that statue? Can anybody give me an answer? That's where, I think, everyone's got problems," Stahelski told Collider.

"Day Shift" is streaming exclusively on Netflix.