Reblogging not just because special effects are cool but because body doubles, stunt doubles, acting doubles, talent doubles — all the people whose faces we’re not supposed to see but whose bodies make movies and tv shows possible — these people need and deserve more recognition. We see their bodies onscreen, delight in the shape and motion of those bodies, but even as we pick apart everything else that goes on both on and behind the screen, I just don’t see the people who are those bodies getting the love and recognition they deserve.
We’re coming to love and recognize actors who work in full-body makeup/costumes, such as Andy Serkis, or actors whose entire performances, or large chunks thereof, are motion captured or digitized (lately sometimes also Andy Serkis!). But people like Leander Deeny play an enormous part in making characters such as Steve Rogers come to life, too. Body language is a huge part of a performance and of characterization. For characters/series with a lot of action, a stunt person can have a huge influence on how we read and interpret a character, such as the influence Heidi Moneymaker has had on the style and choreography of Black Widow’s signature fighting style. Talent doubles breathe believability and discipline-specific nuance into demanding storylines.
Actors are creative people themselves, and incredibly important in building the characters we see onscreen. But if we agree that they’re more than dancing monkeys who just do whatever the directors/writers say, then we have to agree that doubles are more than that, too. Doubles make creative decisions too, and often form strong, mutually supportive relationship with actors.
Image 1: “I would like to thank Kathryn Alexandre, the most generous actor I’ve ever worked opposite.”
Image 2: “Kathryn who’s playing my double who’s incredible.”
[ Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany on her acting double, Kathryn Alexandre, two images from a set on themarysue, via lifeofkj ]
I’ve got a relationship that goes back many, many years with Dave. And I would hate for people to just see that image of me and Dave and go, “oh, there’s Dan Radcliffe with a person in a wheelchair.” Because I would never even for a moment want them to assume that Dave was anything except for an incredibly important person in my life.
[ Daniel Radcliffe talking about David Holmes, his stunt double for 2001-2009, who was paralysed while working on the Harry Potter films. David Holmes relates his story here. Gifset via smeagoled ]
With modern tv- and film-making techniques, many characters are composite creations. The characters we see onscreen or onstage have always been team efforts, with writers, directors, makeup artists, costume designers, special effects artists, production designers, and many other people all contributing to how a character is ultimately realized in front of us. Many different techniques go into something like the creation of Skinny Steve — he’s no more all Leander Deeny than he is all Chris Evans.
But as fandom dissects the anatomy of scenes in ever-increasing detail to get at microexpressions and the minutiae of body language, let’s recognize the anatomy in the scenes, too. I don’t mean to take away from the work Chris Evans or any other actors do (he is an amazing Steve Rogers and I love him tons), but fandom needs to do better in recognizing the bodies, the other people, who make up the characters we love and some of our very favourite shots of them. Chris Evans has an amazing body, but so does Leander Deeny — that body is beautiful; that body mimicked Chris Evans’s motions with amazing, skilled precision; that body moved Steve Rogers with emotion and grace and character.
Fandom should do better than productions and creators who fail to be transparent about the doubles in their productions. On the screen, suspension of disbelief is key and the goal is to make all the effort that went into the production vanish and leave only the product itself behind. But when the film is over and the episode ends, let’s remember everyone who helped make that happen.
[ Sam Hargrave (stunt double for Chris Evans) and James Young (stunt double for Sebastian Stan, and fight choreographer), seen from behind, exchange a fistbump while in costume on the set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Image via lifeofkj ]
I applaud these guys as much as the suit actors in my japanese tokusatsu shows. They do just as much work.