7 Clever Ways Movies Hid Their Stunt Doubles

It's not all shaky cam and fast-paced cuts.

Jurassic Park Stunt Double
Universal Pictures

One of the most overlooked creative forces involved in movie production is undoubtedly Hollywood's army of stunt performers, who regularly risk their lives to deliver quality entertainment to our cinema screens.

With writing, acting and directing taking up the bulk of film criticism - and awards shows forgetting about stunts, despite honouring everything from makeup to sound mixing - stunt doubles just don't get the attention they deserve, despite being a crucial factor in helping a film feel polished and professional.

In a way though, the fact that they don't get much attention is almost a good thing. The whole point of stunt performers is to blend into a shot without the audience noticing, and so, because they're not meant to be seen, Hollywood has to get creative with how it elects to stage and shoot these particular moments.

Whether it's through CGI, clever use of camera angles or smart costume changes, a lot of effort goes into masking the presence of stunt doubles on-screen, and you've no doubt failed to spot them yourself, even in movies you've seen dozens of times over.

7. Conan The Barbarian Used A Wide Shot To Cover Up Arnie's Stunt Double

Jurassic Park Stunt Double
Universal Pictures

In some instances, the filmmakers know that they won't be able to get away with snapping a close or mid-shot of their actor's stunt double, often because - even with impeccable lighting and framing - the two bodies or faces simply don't match well enough, and audiences will be able to tell when the double is in the shot.

This was a problem that 1982's Conan the Barbarian had to deal with, purely because Arnold Schwarzenegger was such a big dude that it proved impossible to find a stunt double who had the same bulging muscles and god-like stature as him.

Because of his unique physical appearance, Arnie had to do his own stunts for most of the movie, but when the time came to shoot a particularly dangerous horse-riding scene, the actor refused, which forced the filmmakers to get creative.

The scene is the one where Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) is riding on horseback and is shot with an arrow by Thulsa Doom. The stunt required Arnie to grab Bergman from her horse when the arrow struck her, and pull her onto his horse. But because he didn't want to do it (he was worried he would drop her), the stunt co-ordinator stepped up instead. But his body - understandably - looked nothing like Arnie's.

So what did they do? As revealed by the hulking Austrian on an episode of Radio One's Movies That Made Me, the crew filmed the stunt using a distant wide shot, so that the double was far away from the camera. This way, when watched normally, it's impossible to tell that the double isn't actually Arnie.

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Video editor and writer WhatCulture/WhoCulture. Bought a 4K copy of The Martian in 2016 and still haven't watched it.