As members of the moviegoing public, we might hold our breath during an epic car chase, but it’s the man behind the wheel who could end up with a metal rod plunged into his lungs. And that’s the least of it when it comes to stuntman injuries — a job where occupational hazards include third-degree burns, shattered vertebrae and death.
For instance, on the set of the Bond film For Your Eyes Only, stuntman Paolo Rigon was killed instantly when his bobsled flipped while he was attempting to speed down an ice coated highway. But for those crazy enough to try to cheat death and risk a broken back on a near-daily basis, driving a car off a 50-foot ramp is just a day in the life.
Here’s a look at three working stuntmen — and the battle scars that define them and their work.
Stuntman: Eddie Braun
Credits: The Avengers, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Transformers, Sons of Anarchy, Rush Hour 3
Injuries: Fractured pelvis, collapsed lung and numerous broken bones, including a broken back.
The Scar in Question: “The thing about routine car jumps is they’re not a big deal until they’re a big deal. On this particular one — a Walker, Texas Ranger chase sequence — I overshot the landing, breaking my back in three places, fracturing my pelvis and collapsing one of my lungs. The stuntman sitting in the passenger seat next to me died. There was no trauma to his body, but his heart stopped.”
Stuntman: Eric Norris
Credits: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Town, War of the Worlds, Machete, The Hangover Part III
Injuries: Second-degree burns on my hands, dislocated shoulder, stitches, torn ligaments in both ankles, torn rotator cuff and a few concussions. Knock on wood, nothing major.
The Scar in Question: “Back in 2000, I was doubling my dad [Chuck Norris] in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. We were using a pipe ramp that you hit with the side of a car that causes the car to flip. I’m not sure how it happened, but the car caught on fire before it was supposed to and a part of the seat went through my back and stabbed me in the ribs. At that point, the car was so engulfed in flames you couldn’t see it; it took two other stuntmen to pull me out. I burned my hand and ended up with 20 stitches across my chest. My dad wasn’t too happy. He even stopped the ambulance on its way to the hospital to let me know that if I wanted to continue my career as a stuntman, I needed to find another show to work on.”
Name: Gary Hymes
Credits: Batman Begins, Scarface, Jurassic Park, Hook, Iron Man 3
Injuries: Six knee surgeries, a complete shoulder replacement, lower spinal surgery, cervical spine fusion, new joint in big toe, hip replacement
The Scar in Question: “Since I’m involved in pending litigation on injuries I’ve sustained over 20 years ago, my attorney has advised me not to discuss the details of my scars.”