The Fall Guy: the film that could boost the Oscar for best stuntman

The Fall Guy: the film that could boost the Oscar for best stuntman

Even before its official release next May, David Leitch's film embodies the demands of the understudy community.

More than an action comedy with Ryan Gosling And Emily Blunt as headliners, The Fall Guy is little by little establishing itself as the standard-bearer of the campaign for the creation of the Oscar for stuntmen. Adapted from the cult series from the 1980s The Man Who Fallenthe film of David Leitch tells the adventures of Colt Seavers, a retired stuntman forced to return to service to help his ex, Jodie, finish his first film as a director, endangered by the sudden disappearance of the main actor, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

A pitch which therefore propels the figure of the stuntman to the forefront, and which echoes the demands of this community, relayed by the LA Times.

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Its main voice is that of Jack Gillprofessional stuntman who we could see risking his life in the 1980's series Sheriff, scare me And K2000. For some time now, the former understudy has formed a lobby for the stunt with members of AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), responsible for awarding the golden statuettes, but also for creating or removing the different categories. Remember that unlike the Emmys and the SAG-AFTRA Awards, the Oscars do not reward stunt coordinators, although according to Jack Gill:

“There is no other department head in the film industry who is under such pressure, when people's lives are at stake. Stuntmen don't want to be actors, walking the red carpet and everything else they want is to be recognized by their peers for doing something that involves blood, sweat and tears.”

Canvassing the different branches of Hollywood, Gill managed to rally a few names to his cause, and not the least: Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham…all assured their support for the demands. At the same time, Jack Gill also managed to “infiltrate” the ranks of the Academy: for almost ten years, and thanks to his efforts, the number of stunt coordinators sitting at AMPAS has more than tripled, going from thirty-one to more than a hundred. For Jack Gill:

“We now have a seat at the table and a say in how things move forward, which is a big step forward. If we can keep the public and board members a little better informed about the academy on what exactly stunt coordinators do and moving things forward, I hope a category will come up in the next year or two I think they need it and they will. We just have to keep pushing.”

According to the ex-stuntman, his peers are close to the goal, and despite several failed attempts, the creation of a category planning to reward casting directors from 2026 paves the way for recognition of stuntmen, as well as the tribute that the Academy authorized Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling to pay them last March. According to one of his colleagues, Chris O'Harastunt designer on the set of The Fall Guy :

“For a long time, we heard all these rumors: 'They're not going to add another category because there isn't enough room in the TV schedule'. This is not true. You have to plead a case and see it through to the end. It’s a political thing – it’s a dance to get your points across. Now that the casting category has passed, we know it’s possible.”

A motivation for him, and David Leitch, director of the film and former stuntman himself. Complex choreographies have been designed to pay homage to this difficult profession. For the latter, it was “in this film to strive to show that (this job) hurts”. No CGI or AI, or at least as little as possible. Logan HolladayRyan Gosling's understudy, adds:

“When it's real, it's different. When you watch something that was created by computer, it's like you're watching a video game – there's no risk on anyone's part . We did it all for real, and that’s what keeps you going.”

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Even Ryan Gosling made his contribution. Kelly McCormickproducer of the film, recounts the fall from fifteen floors that the actor, who had already played a stuntman in Driveinsisted on carrying out himself: “Ryan is dizzy, but he said to himself: 'It's called The Fall Guy, I have to do it'.

And then there was the car rollover record, formerly held by a stuntman from Casino Royaleand beaten on the set of The Fall Guy. According to David Leitch:

“The barrels were special. When I put them in the scenario with the possibility of setting a world record, I said to myself: 'If we want to make a movie about a stuntman and pay homage to the stunt community, we should try to do something big that's never been done'.”

Never seen, either, the name of “stunt designer” (“stunt designer” in English) attributed to Chris O'Hara, instead of that of “coordinator” (“stunt coordinator”), with the aim of bringing it up to the level of decorators (“production designer”) and costume designers (“designer suit”).

The Fall Guyit is therefore more than a film, it is a new argument for the stunt community, which had perhaps not had such visibility since the speech of Brad PittOscar winner for the first time in 2020 for his role as a stuntman in Once Upon a time… in Hollywood.

A community that remains optimistic: soon, Academy members will vote “Yes” for the institution of the Oscar for Best Stunt Actor. According to David Leitch:

“I think we're on a very good path. There's movement and milestones to be reached, but a path is emerging. The fact that they allowed the Oscar tribute this year was a sign that 'Keep going, guys'. I think they would really like to see that happen. It’s a good thing for them.”

The Fall Guy will be available in theaters from May 1, 2024. Here is the trailer:

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