Some of today's top action directors were first doubles for Brad Pitt, Neo and Wolverine.
Increasingly, filmmakers are coming from the ranks of stuntmen and stunt
“Extraction,” the new Netflix film starring Chris Hemsworth, is the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave. Before Hargrave got behind the camera, he doubled for Chris Evans on “Captain America" and Hugh Jackman on “Wolverine," and
Hargrave is the latest in a lineage of stuntmen who have gone from stepping in for actors to directing them. It's a fairly recent career pathway thanks largely to the success of Chad Stahelski ("John Wick") and David Leitch ("Atomic Blonde").
A brief history of notable stuntmen turned directors:
Hal Needham: A trailblazer for stuntmen-filmmakers, Needham performed stunts on films including “The French Connection” and “How the West Was Won” before he penned the script to “Smokey and the Bandit.” He convinced Burt Reynolds, for whom he had doubled, to let him direct. They remained a regular team, with Needham directing Reynolds in “Hooper,” “The Cannonball Run” and “Stroker Ace.” Needham has been quoted as saying: “Screw the dialogue, let’s wreck some cars.”
Ric Roman Waugh: The son of stuntman Fred Waugh, one of the founding members of Stunts Unlimited, Waugh performed stunt work in “The Last of the Mohicans,” “The Crow” and “Lethal Weapon 2." He transitioned to directing in 2001's “In the Shadows,” and followed that up with “Snitch,” with Dwayne Johnson, and last year's “Angel Has Fallen."
Chad Stahelski and David Leitch: A chiseled duo with martial arts skills and stunt expertise, Stahelski and and Leitch have done more than anyone else to raise the profile of stunt
Nash Edgerton: The brother of actor Joel Edgerton, Nash has been a longtime stuntman, doubling for Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi, and doing stunt work in “The Thin Red Line,” “Superman Returns” and “Zero Dark Thirty." But Edgerton also continually made short films, some with his brother, and eventually made his feature directing debut with the 2008 neo-noir “The Square.” In 2018, he directed the comedy “Gringo,” with David Oyelowo and Theron.
Jake Coyle, The Associated Press