Actors Who Do Their Own Stunts

Learn the actors who do their own stunts. Not everything we see onscreen is an illusion. Sometimes, that actor leaping from a burning building or rolling a motorcycle across a highway is actually executing the maneuver.

Angelina Jolie – Often, parents take extra precautions to keep themselves safe on behalf of their kids. However, Jolie is not one of them. She likes to impress her impressive brood, and, if doing her own stunts is what it takes, by golly, she will, whether it’s jumping from a moving car or hanging off a building. As a bonus, the stringent exercise regimen required for stuntwork helps her get back into shape after a pregnancy. Just like your mom, huh?

Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Governator couldn’t be expected to carry out all the mayhem his characters cause. But Schwarzenegger says he did his own stuntwork in many of his films — notably the Conan movies and Commando — partly because it was so difficult to find a double who resembled him. So he’s wrestled a wolf, fallen from a 40-foot tower, and jumped off a plane. Which may be almost as difficult as balancing California’s budget.

Tom Cruise – Cruise’s career spans just about every genre, but he’s really made his mark as an action star. For the last two installments of Mission: Impossible, Cruise insisted — against the wishes of studio executives — on performing his own stunts. He continued his shenanigans for his latest film, Knight and Day, greatly impressing co-star Cameron Diaz, who called him phenomenal. Also crazy.

Buster Keaton – In that long-ago time when FX consisted mostly of camera tricks and the substitution of dummies for actors, Keaton kept it real. He pulled off the most dangerous stunts of his era — and he even stood in for other actors in his films, performing their stunts. Keaton’s most famous OMG moment appears in Steamboat Bill, Jr., when the façade of a building, which weighed in at two tons, drops down over him.

Jackie Chan – That he does all his own stunts (and has the broken bones to prove it) is part of Hong Kong native Chan’s lore. Although Chan’s early training was geared toward a career in the Peking Opera, he gravitated toward work as a stuntman. Now he’s one of the world’s top martial-arts film actors. His Rush Hour 3 co-star, Chris Tucker, notes that Chan got hit hard with a table during shooting — but returned to the set the next day. For the win.