Jason Isaacs on Doing His Own Stunts (and Getting Injured)


What can you do? The man loves his work.


Veteran actor Jason Isaacs has a problem — when he’s on set, despite the presence of stunt performers specifically there to protect actors, he keeps asking to do the most dangerous maneuvers himself. “I am living, barely walking testimony to the fact that you should always say no to the actors when they ask,” he told me as part of an upcoming installment in our Collider Connected interview series. “I am carrying so many life-long injuries — I should never have been allowed to do the things that I did.”

This includes most recently running away from “lava and fireballs” in the Chinese action disaster film Skyfire (a situation only made more intense due to the fact that he doesn’t speak Mandarin) while trying to protect his 7-year-old co-star from the flames.


Image via Screen Media Films

And that was one of the luckier instances, as he explains in the clip below, having plenty of stories about previous instances when he has caused himself physical injury, including:

  • Nearly breaking his legs on the USA Network miniseries Dig.
  • A fistfight sequence in Showtime’s Brotherhood where a bad fall nearly kept him from finishing the scene.
  • Knocking himself out by falling backwards — onto a rubber floor — during the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Why does he do it? The answer is pretty simple — he’s having a great time:

Look, I do this job. I feel very terrible when I speak to my relatives and friends, and certainly during the last nine months, I’ve been lucky enough to work at various charities — I’m speaking to lots of people who are making a huge difference out in the world, working in the health sector, or working with refugees, or working with homeless people.I get to do this insanely childish, self-indulgent thing of putting on costumes, and makeup, and running around pretending to be other people, having vicarious emotions. It’s absurd that I get to do this child’s play thing, and get rewarded for it, and get social status I don’t deserve from it, at all.But I get to do this fun thing. One of the fun things you can do at work is jump around; jump around and fire guns, and jump down holes, and you can fall into a river, and all the fun things, in a safe environment. I’ve been to war, lots of times, with no real bullets. I hate the fact that other people don’t enjoy their job as much, and do much more worthwhile things. I’m ashamed of it, but I get to do a very fun thing. One of the funnest things is stunts.

Watch Isaacs go into detail below about his history with stunt work in the clip below. Skyfire premieres on VOD Tuesday, January 12 — for more, revisit the 27 best action films of the 1990s.


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