If I were to ask you who the most bad-ass actor is you’ve seen in movies, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more bad-ass one than Danny Trejo. In fact, he starred in two movies of that name (Badass and Badasses, respectively), and has one of the toughest demeanors (along with a troubled past irl) you’ll see on screen. Certainly you’d think Machete himself would be the type to do his own stunts, right? Wrong.
I have written before about my own changed and changing opinions about the actors-who-do-their-own-stunts thing, and was delighted to see stage combat friend Kevin I. having posted this interview to social media today. Trejo not only vehemently denied doing his own stunts, he maintains that actors who do their own stunts are foolish at best. Check this quote from the interview, and read the whole thing here: “Bad-Ass Danny Trejo: Actors who do their own stunts are crazy”.
FOX411: Speaking of whacking people, you’ve done a lot of your own stunts, right?
Trejo: No. First of all, making movies is a business. Now all you actors that want to disagree with me, I dare you. The reality is insurance companies won’t let us do our own stunts. We have professionals, just like I’m a professional artist. What I do is, “To be or not to be in the barrio,” that’s what I do. A stunt guy pads up and goes through a wall. That’s his profession. Every time the profession’s mixed, I don’t want to risk 80 people’s jobs just so I can say I have big nuts. I don’t want to say that. Norm Mora is my stunt man, that’s his profession.
It’s hard for an actor to ease up on his ego, particularly when it comes to stage combat, because stage combat just…looks so cool! And it makes one feel powerful, confident, like one’s able to actually fight even. Look at how quickly the interviewer segues from discussing stunts to asking for instruction on self-defense. As Trejo says to her, self-defense and stunts are two way different monsters–in fact, whenever I get martial artists or fencers in my stage combat classes, I sigh and smile. Often (especially the very young students) they think they already know how to do it all, and all they have to do is do it “but fake.” When I tell them that stage combat has nothing in fact to do with fighting, they are perplexed until they then experience the art. It’s an art of storytelling.
I can’t recommend this article enough: Ne’er the Twain, by Tony Wolf. He discusses the martial arts/theatrical arts dichotomy quite eloquently. There ya go: some assigned reading for your day, and to get excited for my upcoming stage combat classes at Metro State U. and Red Rocks CC in Denver this Fall semester.
(was that too obvious a plug? Eh, I’m an adjunct faculty, I need to.)