Daniel Radcliffe And Injured ‘Harry Potter’ Stunt Double David Holmes On Their New Podcast And The Need For An Oscar For Stunt Performers – Interview
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When stunt actor David Holmes, who had doubled in all eight Harry Potter films for Daniel Radcliffe, was seriously injured when he rehearsed a flight scene for the last chapter in 2009, his career as a stunt man suddenly ended. Holmes broke his neck during a jerk-back stunt and was paralyzed from the chest down. For the next 11 years, he got used to life with limited mobility only in arms and hands.
But his love of his profession has not stalled, and he has now teamed up with his "acting double" Radcliffe for a new podcast, Cunning Stunts, in which the couple interviewed stunt performers from around the world to shed light throwing at people responsible for some of the most memorable sequences in film history.
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"What I missed during my working days, as well as doing the stunts and getting this enthusiasm, were the conversations and stories that I and the stunt boys shared," says Holmes now. "You can tell that the whole community consists of so many memories and so many characters."
Radcliffe came along because he too enjoyed hearing the stories from the stunt section of the Harry Potter franchise. "I would tell everyone that if you go on a film set, the stunt department is the department you can meet with, because these stories are amazing," he says.
Holmes started at 17 at Potter and was due to his short stature a perfect double for an 11 year old Radcliffe. But stunt coordinator Greg Powell also accused Holmes of helping Radcliffe get physically in shape to deal with the stunts that would focus on his face. "We were at Alnwick Castle and there is a scene where Harry has to hit a ball with a racket," recalls Holmes. "As soon as I and Greg saw Dan swing the club, he just looked at me and said, 'We have to work with him a bit, you know? 'It was exactly the way Dan moved. You could say that he had no sporting background. "
"It's a polite way of saying it," laughs Radcliffe. "Imagine you were an 11 year old boy and you learned:" You will walk around on crash mats and jump on trampolines. "It was kind of heaven. I think any actor interested in stunts who wants to be involved in this stuff as much as possible needs to build a relationship with your stunt double or at least with the stunt department. If you don't, they will never know what you're capable of. "
The couple worked intensively over eight films, and as Radcliffe's training continued, he faced major challenges. The fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, includes an enormous underwater sequence that Holmes would work out and train Radcliffe to deliver. And a 35-foot crash onto one of the sloping roofs of Hogwarts Castle, which the stunt department believed Radcliffe was ready to take on on its own.
"They talked me through and said," It's 35 feet. Do you think you can Radcliffe remembers. "When you were 14 or 15 you were brave in front of a group of stuntmen, so I thought:" Yes, of course I can. "
"Dan was on a wire over a pitched tile roof," explains Holmes. "It fell from a static wire onto the roof and then starts its slide. The risk is the initial fall we cushioned it for, and then the speed you build when you slide down. Not only that, but it slipped from the roof and pulled a broomstick over his shoulder to get it in his lap, then landed on a crash mat below. There were a lot of things to think about in four or five seconds. But he was pukka, really good . "
"Looking back, I look back and find it pretty crazy that I was allowed to do that," laughs Radcliffe. "35 feet is a lot higher than you think when you're up there."
Radcliffe's relationship with Holmes continued just as intensely after Holmes 'accident, and this new podcast stems from a larger project that the two have been working on since 2016 and that will tell Holmes' story. "We thought we had to find a way to use all of the other amazing stories we heard," says Radcliffe.
The podcast started with an episode with Derek Lea, who has over 500 credits for his name, including Titanic, Saving Private Ryan and the Bond films. The first season of episodes features Tina Maskell and David Forman, Paul Lowe, Jo McLaren, Rocky Taylor and the late Brian Sonny Nickels.
The talks are open and fun and honest about the risks associated with the job, and the stunt teams are working to mitigate this risk. "It's always about minimizing the risk," stresses Holmes. "But at the same time, you shouldn't go to work unless you are ready to expect the possibility that it will not work properly and you may not get a second shot. I have suffered the ultimate price for doing this what I love but I will always say "I was a stuntman, I went to work, I took this risk, I took this money."
"I think there's a myth about stuntmen that they're just superhuman in some way," says Radcliffe. "When the public sees something that is really painful or terrible, they think it was a visual effect or that there is a clever and safe way to do it." This is often not the case. There is no way to fool a staircase, for example. If you are hit by a car, you will still be hit by a car, even if it drives slower than it would. You can find the safest way, but it can still hurt. "
As Hollywood continues its thirst for bigger and better action with every blockbuster, Holmes and Radcliffe believe it is time for the film academy's stunt community to be awarded an Oscar category for their work for what they do .
"I literally broke my neck because people want to sit in front of a screen and say," That was a good stunt, "says Holmes." Olivia Jackson lost an arm and paralyzed half her body in a Resident Evil production, for which there was no insurance policy. We risk our lives for entertainment. So it's a bit ridiculous when all other departments are recognized and we don't. "
"If you can't see the art of a brilliant stunt scene, just don't look closely enough," says Radcliffe. "I think there is snobbery, but stunt work is an art form, and doing it well and safely is really, really difficult."
Radcliffe acknowledges an argument that the incentive for stunt performers to grow taller and braver when looking for an Oscar is at their own risk. "But if you go through what happened to Dave or Olivia, or if difficult things happened to the many people we spoke to, you will find that everyone has put their bodies on the line to do things we love. It seems crazy not to acknowledge that. "
However, Oscar nominations are decided by colleagues in each of the different categories. Actors nominate actors, costume designers nominate costume designers and so on. And, of course, stunt performers are able to recognize extraordinary works for both their technique and their spectacle. "When you see something that fits well together, the choreography is great, the individual stunt elements are also good, you know how much went into it," says Holmes. "I watch films all the time. Not only because I love them, but because I now live in a wheelchair, I can get lost in them. A great stunt sequence in a movie - the way it flows is brilliant to me. And I can see both sides, as a spectator and as someone who participated and did it. "
For Holmes, the recording of the podcast was cathartic, especially because its condition worsened. "My job now lives with my disability," he says. "It's a full-time job because it's constantly changing neurologically. There is no stability. My spine injury has worsened over the course of the podcast. I'm really happy that the podcast captures a bit more of the old me. I'm glad that we had this time to get together when I was in better shape. "
Nevertheless, he says: “There are people in this world who are currently living with much worse things. I consider myself very happy. "
The Cunning Stunts podcast series can be downloaded here.
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