10 Times Stunt Doubles Were Impossible To Notice (And 10 Times They Were Super Obvious)
Snappy dialogue and tear-jerking performances are all fine and dandy, but let’s be totally honest: we go to see blockbuster movies for the explosive action scenes! And while digital effects increasingly dominate this aspect of the filmmaking craft, there’s still plenty of demand for stunt performers willing to risk life and limb performing feats that actors simply aren’t capable of pulling off.
Frankly, we think this is a good thing. Sure, CGI is an incredible tool – without it, many of the most impressive movie set pieces of the last few decades couldn’t have happened. But nothing beats the thrill of watching an actual, flesh-and-blood human putting themselves in genuine (albeit controlled) peril on screen.
That said, the big drawback of using stunt performers over digital doubles is that – unlike their synthetic counterparts – stunt men and women don’t look exactly like the actors they’re standing in for. This means that sometimes a downright jaw-dropping stunt is hard to fully enjoy, as the lack of resemblance between thespian and “stuntie” is so distracting.
That said, in other instances, actors and their stunt doubles have shared such a pronounced likeness that they’re virtually indistinguishable from each other at a quick glance. In circumstances such as these, you’d be forgiven for assuming that no stand-in was used at all – which is kinda the whole point!
With all of this in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 Times Stunt Doubles Were Impossible To Notice (And 10 Times They Were Super Obvious) – so read on to learn which actors did (or definitely did not do) their own stunts.
20 Impossible To Notice: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Regularly voted among the most beautiful women in the world, Megan Fox isn’t someone you’d expect to be able to find a lookalike stunt double for. But director Michael Bay lucked out when Maria Papathanasiou applied for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The Greek-American performer could be Fox’s twin, and this uncanny resemblance made her the perfect fit to handle Fox’s stunts in the film. Although Papathansiou apparently wasn’t called upon to do anything too dangerous – riding a bicycle seems to have been the most hair-raising stunt she took part in – the transition between her and Fox was nevertheless very impressive.
19 Super Obvious: The Tourist
Stuntman Tony Angelotti isn’t a bad looking guy…but he’s no Johnny Depp, either. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be an issue – most people don’t possess movie star looks! – but on the set of The Tourist, it was a real dilemma.
That’s because Angelotti was doubling for Depp in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s 2010 romantic-thriller, and he wasn’t the most believable match for the famously handsome actor. Of course, when you take into account the lukewarm critical and commercial reception The Tourist received, a few cringeworthy stunt double shots were hardly its biggest problem.
18 Impossible To Notice: Now You See Me
The magic tricks in heist outing Now You See Me are so OTT they’d make David Copperfield blush. Depicting these illusions on the big screen didn’t just ask a lot of the cast – actress Isla Fisher nearly drowned chained up in a water tank! – but required total commitment from their stunt doubles, too.
While all of these intrepid performers were more than up to the challenge, Anthony Molinari – who subbed in for Mark Ruffalo as needed – stood out from the pack. Why? Well, Molinari and Ruffalo look like they could be brothers, which lent Molinari’s stunt sequences an added verisimilitude.
17 Super Obvious: Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
What could be harder than casting three talented child actors to portray Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? How about finding adult stunt doubles who could plausibly cover for each underage thespian!
Director Chris Columbus did the best he could – and by and large, it’s hard to spot the stunt performers filling in for stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. Yet even movie magic has its limits, and a few shots of Robbie Coltrane’s clearly not-him stunt double slipped into the Sorcerer’s Stone’s most pivotal scene.
16 Impossible To Notice: The Matrix
The cast of The Matrix trained tremendously hard to master the martial arts choreography and spectacular wire work witnessed in the Wachowskis’ cyberpunk epic. But there were only so many stunts they were proficient enough to execute – and that’s where their stunt doubles came in.
Not that you’d notice in Keanu Reeves case, however. He and stuntman Chad Stahelski – future director of the John Wick trilogy, headlined by Reeves – look so similar, it was as if Reeves performed every backflip himself!
15 Super Obvious: Moonraker
Like all James Bond adventures, Moonraker starts with a bang: a high altitude set piece where Agent 007 is required to don his parachute in mid-air! Unfortunately, this exhilarating opening winds up being memorable more for what it gets wrong than for what it gets right.
Now, the aerial acrobatics on display here by uncredited stunt double Jake Lombard can’t be faulted. However, thanks to a few brief close-ups during the sequence, it’s painfully clear that Lombard – and not Roger Moore – is the one playing cinema’s most iconic super spy here.
14 Impossible To Notice: Guardians Of The Galaxy
Few stuntmen boast similar bulk to Dave Bautista – which you’d expect, given Bautista’s background in professional wrestling, mixed martial arts and bodybuilding. However, one who does is Rob de Groot, which is what landed him the gig doubling for Bautista as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy.
With his scalp shaved and lathered in green body paint, de Groot was a spot-on match for Bautista, which came in handy when the Guardian’s resident bruiser needed to engage in especially hazardous superheroics!
13 Super Obvious: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most recognizable action stars on the planet – and this was especially the case at the height of his fame in the early 90s. So it was hard to miss it when a stunt double (and not Arnie) portrayed the T-800 riding a motorcycle in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
This was a movie goof that obviously bugged James Cameron, too. When it came time to re-release T2 in 3D, the director used modern CGI to replace stuntman Peter Kent’s face with Schwarzenegger’s (although Kent remains visible in some shots.)
12 Impossible To Notice: Hot Pursuit
Unlike many other stunt performers, Marny Eng’s frame isn’t exactly what you’d describe as “towering” or “broad-shouldered” – which is why she was hired for 2015 action/comedy Hot Pursuit.
After all, the film’s leading lady, Reese Witherspoon – who Eng was doubling for – definitely belongs at the “petite” end of the body type spectrum, as well.
Toss in the close physical resemblance the pair shared, and you’ve got a recipe for the kind of seamless intercutting between actor and stuntwoman on display during Hot Pursuit’s numerous high speed gags.
11 Super Obvious: Tremors
As a homage to the “creature features” of the 1950s, Tremors is the kind of popcorn flick that can almost get away with errors like noticeable stunt performers. It’s part of the fun of watching an ’80s update on the classic (and at times, shoddy) monster movie formula.
That why, even when a stuntman shows up sporting a truly terrible wig in a vain attempt to imitate Kevin Bacon, it’s no cause for concern. If anything, pointing out the Footloose star’s double adds an extra layer of charm to proceedings.
10 Impossible To Notice: Mad Max: Fury Road
After Tom Hardy signed-on to play the Kray twins in crime biopic Legend, Jacob Tomuri was drafted in to provide a second on-set body for Hardy’s head to be digitally grafted onto. Tomuri was picked because he and Hardy possess comparable builds, but they happened to have similar facial features, too.
That’s why when Hardy was cast as Max in Mad Max: Fury Road, he personally recruited Tomuri to serve as his full-blown stunt double on the turbo-charged, set piece-heavy blockbuster.
9 Super Obvious: Twilight
When we talk about the first Twilight movie, there are two things most people would agree on. Firstly, that it’s actually pretty decent, and secondly, that the visual effects during Edward and Bella’s tree top frolic are bad.
However, the notoriously bad CGI on display here isn’t entirely to blame for spoiling what should have been a breathtaking sequence. The live-action elements are a bit of a shambles, too – partly because stunt doubles Paul Darnell and Helena Barrett are clearly visible in a handful of shots!
8 Impossible To Notice: Knight And Day
Action/comedy effort Knight and Day is a decidedly mediocre affair, and that extends to its action set pieces. Yet you can’t fault director James Mangold in terms of keeping things convincing – casting leads like Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, who were eager to perform as many of their own stunts as possible, paid dividends in that respect.
But Mangold and his team also deserve props for sourcing stunt doubles who could believably portray Cruise and Diaz when more specialist skills were required. They did a particularly good job selecting Diaz’s double, Kimberly Shannon Murphy, who really looked the part.
7 Super Obvious: The Princess Bride
Celebrated stuntman Bob Anderson enjoyed a career filled with highlights, from competing at the Olympics to playing a key role in the swordplay seen in Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and more. So, a lot of shining moments on his resume – but one particular scene in The Princess Bride definitely doesn’t count among them.
We’re speaking, of course, about the moment when our heroes Westley and Buttercup tumble down a hill – and Anderson doubled for both. Our guy easily filled in for male lead Cary Elwes, but made a poor substitute for actress Robin Wright!
6 Impossible To Notice: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
To be honest, Luke Scott looks more like Taron Egerton’s geeky younger brother than his hyper-competent stunt double. But as he ably demonstrated in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Scott is more than athletic enough to tackle all manner of stunt work.
Better still, despite having a narrower face, with his hair parted and wearing a pair of specs, Scott can pass for Egerton at a glance (especially in wider shots in the film,) leaving his presence virtually undetectable in the finished film.
5 Super Obvious: Point Break
Keanu Reeves may have been blessed with a fantastic stunt double on The Matrix, but he wasn’t so lucky when filming Point Break several years earlier.
It’s not that uncredited stuntman Pat Banta didn’t do a terrific job during the skydiving sequences –he just flat-out does not resemble Reeves, and it’s very noticeable.
Intriguingly, Reeves’ co-star Patrick Swayze did do his own stunts, right down to jumping out of the plane himself – so his mid-air close-ups all look uniformly flawless, at least.
4 Impossible To Notice: Furious 7
There’s a reason why stuntman Tanoai Reed regularly doubles for Dwayne Johnson: there’s very little to distinguish Reed from Johnson physically, especially when viewed at a distance.
So for all intents and purposes, it might as well be The Rock putting his neck on the line during the vehicular mayhem of Furious 7, at least as far as audiences are concerned.
Aside from that movie, Reed has also doubled for Johnson on Hercules, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Walking Tall and more – firmly establishing himself as the action star’s preferred stunt performer.
3 Super Obvious: The Avengers
Few moviegoers would argue that Scarlett Johansson isn’t in good shape – she has to be, in order to fill out Black Widow’s skin-tight jumpsuit! At the same time, Johansson’s toned physique isn’t quite in the same league as her genuinely buff stunt double Heidi Moneymaker, something the first Avengers movie made abundantly clear.
Although Johansson and Moneymaker make a good match overall, the crossover between them is obvious during Black Widow’s opening scene. Really, it could only be Moneymaker performing the scene’s chair-based gymnastics, as her more conspicuously more muscular arms are exposed by the dress the Widow is wearing.
2 Impossible To Notice: Raiders Of The Lost Ark
A living legend in the film industry, Vic Armstrong is recognized as the most prolific stunt performer of all time in the Guinness Book of Records. Among Armstrong’s many high profile projects, the one he’s most associated with is doubling for Harrison Ford on the first three Indiana Jones flicks.
The cross-cutting between actor and stunt double couldn’t have been smoother, either; the duo looked so alike that Armstrong’s involvement went undetected by moviegoers. Ford himself noted his strong resemblance to Armstrong, and once quipped that he’d be out of work if Vic ever learned how to act!
1 Super Obvious: Blade Runner
Arguably the most (in)famous instance of a stunt performer being impossible not to notice, Lee Pullford doubling for Joanna Cassidy as Zhora on Blade Runner was a total bust. To put it bluntly, Cassidy and Pullford look nothing alike, and this visual discrepancy undermines Zhora’s otherwise brilliant final scene.
Luckily, director Ridley Scott later found himself in the position to rectify this glaring goof when overseeing 2007’s Final Cut re-release 25 years later. Scott actually went to the trouble of filming Cassidy in costume and then digitally inserting her new performance over Pullford’s, eliminating the visual inconsistency.
Do you know any other times stunt doubles were impossible to notice or super obvious? Let us know in the comments!