You think Tom Cruise and Jackie Chan are the only ones who perform their own stunts? Well, from high-speed car chases and explosive shootouts to elegant swordplay and brutal fistfights, we go behind the scenes of some of Netflix’s most-loved films and series where the stars themselves took on the challenge of performing most – if not all – of their own stunts.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Kate
Continuing her streak of action blockbusters, having previously starred in Gemini Man and Birds of Prey, Kate marks the latest film where Mary Elizabeth Winstead takes on yet another series of increasingly complex stunts as a female assassin with less than 24 hours to live. In order to do this, Winstead clocked in a year’s worth of physical training prior to filming, working on drills that incorporated Jiu-Jitsu and boxing. To elevate her gunwork, she trained with Hollywood’s go-to weapons trainer Taran Butler and also received hands-on training from former military snipers in Thailand.
Look Out For: Winstead and Japanese actor Miyavi’s gripping kitchen fight scene, which they performed without stunt doubles and is one of the actress’ favourite and most challenging sequences to film.
Chris Hemsworth in Extraction
While he leaves the insane stunts to the experts, Hemsworth was very much involved in the movie’s key action sequence, The Oner, which involved 12 minutes of non-stop action filmed to appear as a seamless one-take scene. As the epic sequence was the first thing they shot for the film, Hemsworth trained with the stunt team an hour a day prior to filming and continued to work with them even after production began to nail down and perfect the choreography.
Look Out For: The Oner — a 12-minute-long action sequence in the film consisting of multiple chase sequences, gun battles, hand-to-hand combat, and plenty of explosions. And this is going to make your jaw drop – to make sure he captured the heart-racing intensity of the car chases, director Sam Hargrave was strapped precariously to the hood of a car going up to 95 kilometres per hour with a camera in his hand.
Ju Ji-hoon in Kingdom
When you’re an exiled crown prince trying to save your kingdom from a zombie apocalypse, you got to do a lot more than just trying to outrun the undead. The action-filled series required the cast – including Ju Ji-hoon, who plays Crown Prince Lee Chang – to perform no small amount of stunts, which could be challenging due to the number of actors and zombies involved in each scene. Adding to the difficulty level of his performance, many of the actor’s fight scenes had to be filmed in long takes in order to capture his emotions. In fact, he recalled the aftermath of filming a one-take rooftop fight scene in Season 2 where he suddenly lost strength in his legs, came tumbling down, and broke his finger.
Look Out For: The crown prince and his army of living making their last stand against the undead on a frozen lake at the tail end of Season 2.
Henry Cavill in The Witcher
In a conversation with Sir Patrick Stewart, Cavill mentioned that he has “always enjoyed doing the physical stuff” and working with Tom Cruise on Mission: Impossible – Fallout only served to affirm his resolve to perform his own stunts when it came time to work on The Witcher. “I think [doing my own stunts is] an essential piece to the character,” he explained. “If an audience is watching Geralt on-screen, they must believe that it is me. If it’s not me, I feel like I’ve betrayed the character in some way, and so I try and do as much as a production will let me.” Combined with his personal passion for The Witcher franchise, it’s an endeavour that has definitely paid off, as Geralt’s action sequences are often lauded as some of the series’ highlights.
Look Out For: The iconic Blaviken fight scene, and the return of Geralt of Rivia when Season 2 of The Witcher premieres on 17 December.
Charlize Theron in The Old Guard
As her character is one of the four undying warriors who have been secretly protecting humanity for millenia, Theron had to look like she had been using the axe-like labrys for thousands of years on top of familiarising herself with various different styles of combat. In the months leading up to the shoot, the actress trained five days a week, doing a mixture of strength conditioning and combat training. Her weekly schedule included striking motions, throws and weapon work, on top of martial arts training that spanned Iaido and Kendo, the arts of Japanese swordplay; Silat, a Malay martial art with close-quarter handwork; Kali, a Filipino martial art which focuses on stick and knife work; Hung Ga Kuen, a Shaolin martial art style; as well as Wushu, Korean Tae Kwon Do, Greco-Roman wrestling, Judo, and Jiu Jitsu.
Look Out For: The knock-em-down fight sequence on the plane, which was also the very first scene to be shot for the film. Theron and co-star KiKi Layne had trained separately, then came together about two weeks before filming to fine-tune the choreography.
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