ARTICLE (001) - Catching up on set with Ryan Reynold's stunt double Jonny James
We sat down with Jonny james About His stunt Doubling duties For the new Ryan reynolds film Hitman’s wife’s Bodyguard.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m currently Ryan Reynolds Stunt Double on The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. We’ve been filming between the UK, Croatia and Italy. It’s a dream job for me, Ryan is such a nice guy, being a stuntman for him is a pleasure, he moves well and picks up fight choreography quickly too. Similar to the first movie, his character is always involved in big stunts like being hit by cars, falling down stairs, blown away by explosions, so it’s amazing to be a stunt double in such a film. To be honest the whole cast and crew have been great to work with, I had a lot of fun moments during filming.
You qualified for the British Stunt Register in 2016, your progression has been fast. Talk us through the challenges of being a stuntman and the emotions you experienced during your first stunt performance on camera?
It’s been a lot of long hours and hard work. I’m really proud of my achievement and the positive responses to my profession as a stuntman, I feel very fortunate.
I’d say a challenge of being a stuntman is trying to keep up skills and maintain fitness, especially when working 6-day weeks on a long run of a job where days on set can be 14 hours long. Also, it’s almost impossible for a stuntman or woman to not pick up little injuries, so that can definitely change training routines.
I’m fortunate to have been working a lot the last few years but it means finding time to see family has been difficult for me, my brother has a one year old who I barely get the chance to see, so that’s quite a challenge on my personal life.
The first day as a registered performer I was working on Justice League, sitting on a gun turret of an armored hummer, firing blanks from a 50 Cal machine gun at Superman, the camera was shooting in slow motion on my screaming face but of course that scene never made it into the film. I remember pulling a similar face in the cinema when I found out, haha! It was a pretty cool introduction to the stunt world.
You have travelled a lot being a Stuntman, what country stands out to you and why?
My time away in India last year for 2 months was definitely a new experience, a small team of us played a British Army in a Bollywood movie Sye Raa about the Indian revolution. Being submersed into Indian culture was a shock to the system, mainly to our digestives ones…
We spent weeks training a hundred Indian stuntmen in fight choreography and marching drills for a huge battle scene. They were always eager to learn and enjoyed us being there which made it easier for us to settle in. The people there are borderline living in poverty but they were always positive and hospitable.
A highlight for me was having our own stunt dog. Stewart was a stray nervous puppy who quickly warmed to us. Every morning we arrived to set, he’d run to our bus and stay by our sides for the day. Before every take the director would say into the megaphone “Roll cameras, take the dog away and action.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring him back due to logistics and the quarantine time. It sucked leaving him there.
The behind the scenes operates very differently over there but the quality of footage produced was outstanding, I’m looking forward to its release.
When did you realise you wanted to become a stuntman and what kind of reaction do you get when you tell people about your career?
Well, I’m from a small town in the far corner of Wales so the movie industry seemed a million miles away. This was until Robin Hood with Russell Crowe was being filmed there. They needed extras for a battle scene on a beach so I spent around six weeks sword fighting with my dad, brother and friends, it was hilarious. But then after watching the stunt team plan and perform intricate stunts, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was in awe of their skills and professionalism. So, I moved to London and started training for the British Stunt Register
When I tell people I’m a stuntman they usually don’t believe me, I can’t recall the amount of times I’ve had to do the splits in a kebab shop at 4 in the morning…The reactions from my home town feels more personal, keeps me grounded.
It was great catching up with you Jonny, thank you for taking a moment and giving us an insight into your world.
Catch Jonny’s work as Ryan Reynold’s Stunt double for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard featuring Salma Hayek and Samuel L Jackson which will be released early next year in cinemas worldwide.