At StagWeb we like to think of ourselves as tough guys, last week we even managed to remove a spider from under the desk with our bare hands… Ok gloved hands… Ok it was gloved hands, a box and a bio-hazard suit but still, we took on the spider face, to bio-hazard covered face.
But in our attempt to man up we’ve asked some advice from tough guy and professional stuntman Martin Shenton who’s not only appeared in films like Red 2 and Tomorrow Never Dies he’s also a top bloke and is now taking charge of our stunt school. Don’t ask him to clean your windows though…
How did you get into the profession? Is there a stuntman apprenticeship you have to go through or do they just chuck you off a building and see if you bounce?
I wanted to change the job I was doing (this is some years ago). Firstly I enquired at the Job Centre but they thought I was a bit of a loony! This made me more determined and using past military and martial arts experience I headed into the future.
Officially there is no formally recognized qualification – though Regent Park Studios is currently developing one with BTEC. There is a lot of training and learning that goes into learning the art of falling from a roof – If you get it wrong you don’t bounce… But I always do.
Being a stuntman can’t be good for your health, so what made you want to live a life of danger rather than something less risky like being Luis Suarez dentist?
The thing about being a stuntman is it’s not dangerous to your health if you’re good at what you do and take the necessary precautions and health and safety checks. I love the excitement of the job itself, that and the people I meet along the way. I was never academically good enough to become a dentist… But I am very capable of rearranging teeth.
Were you always keen to risk life and limb even as a young kid? What did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always taken risks, even as a child and I always wanted to become a stuntman it seemed so exciting. Ironically, I found a document a while from school asking for two job wishes. The two I put were: joiner and stuntman.
Have you had any accidents or injuries?
I’ve had quite a few injuries in my life. But nothing too serious that has stopped me from working. You get sprains and bruising, but that’s all part of it.
What’s the biggest film you’ve been in?
I’ve had the pleasure of working in Les Miserables (for which I received an ensemble stunt award through SAG), Warhorse, James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies to name but a few.
You must rub shoulder with big names, who’s been the nicest star you’ve worked with?
Indeed and most recently I had the pleasure of working with Sylvester Stallone on a commercial for Warburtons Bread Ad – I did his stunt double. He was a really nice guy. I also met Bruce Willis and Pierce Brosnan.
What has been your biggest stunt today?
I was asked to do an interesting and fun stunt on Wire in the Blood. They called me up and asked me to do a ‘Three Story Higher Fall’ – Of course I said yes – Then they told me I had to go through a window first handcuffed. I said: I can do that… Then they said – Can you do it onto a moving car? – Long story short – I did it and survived.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done/would do on a stag weekend?
It’s been a while since I’ve been on a stag do – But if push comes to shove, I have no fear and would do anything under certain conditions: 1 – It’s legal 2 – No one gets hurt.
As for our stag party stuntman school, we can actually accommodate some major stunts, but of course it gets down to cost – we can set you on fire, turn you over in a car… If you see a stunt we can tell you if it’s possible for you to do it.
Is there one tune on your MP3 player that gets you pumped up before a big stunt?
Top Gun Song – Danger Zone.
What’s the one thing on your MP3 player you wouldn’t want us to know about (we won’t tell anyone, honest)?
Brenda Russell – Piano In The Dark.
Being a stuntman you must have balls of steel… but what’s the one thing you’re scared of?
Yes, balls of steel would be true. I’m not really scared of anything and it might sound cliché’d, but I have overcome most of my fears over the years. The only thing that always gets me in a sweat is reading out loud.
You must do a lot of travelling in your line of work, so what’s your No. 1 bloke travel tip?
I must be getting old… Because on the travel date I always arrive early and get a really good hotel – paying that bit extra is always worth it.
You’re probably a bit handy at climbing tall buildings, don’t suppose there’s any chance you could do our windows?
If you’re paying enough money mate, I’ll clean your windows.
StagWeb took Martin up on his kind offer to do our windows, things got a bit awkward when he insisted on setting himself on fire and coming through head first. Wouldn’t have been so bad but the girls in the bathroom at the time were furious.
It’s only rock ‘n’ roll but we like it!
If you fancy having a go at stage combat, stair falls and other “don’t try this at home” acts of movie style madness check out our stuntman school.