LOS ANGELES, (LA ELEMENTS) 3/13/2017 – While the list of actors who do their own stunts seems to go on and on, (Tom Cruise, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, etc.) the same can’t be said for actresses although Zoe Bell and Michelle Yeoh quickly come to mind. As excitement builds over the upcoming summer blockbuster season, you can add Kate Boyer to that list as well. We reached out to Boyer to discover what it takes to be a rising star in the dangerous world of stunt work.
Where are you from originally?
“I’m originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. No one I knew pursued anything like acting so it was basically a shot in the dark. I had no idea what SAG was or who casting directors were at that time. I remember watching this award show when I was a kid and this actress was giving her acceptance speech. In her message she said, ‘This award goes to any girl who thinks that they can be anything…you can.’ It really inspired me.”
What was your intro to stunt work?
“I discovered stunt work while working as a production assistant on the TV show, Rescue Me. People were jumping out of buildings, being set on fire, crashing cars; I was absolutely amazed and knew that’s what I wanted to do along with acting. It took me 3-4 years of training and networking in the stunt community until I landed my first job in the Ben Stiller film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. From there, everything took off.”
What type of training do you have that has prepared you for being a stuntwoman?
“I get asked this question a lot and stunts are unique in that there is no one skill to train in that assures making you a great stuntwoman. It’s having body awareness, a tight body to take hits and hit the ground, the right mindset to keep going when your head is telling you to stop, and understanding how the camera works. You can be a professional fighter and not be familiar with film fighting. I try to train in areas that number one, I love, and number two, are good for film. I come from a boxing/MMA background, but I also practice gymnastics, fight choreography and motorcycle training. It’s a pretty typical, well-rounded stunt performer-training regime.”
How do you prepare yourself mentally for a stunt?
“Relax. Training is so important because it allows you to relax when it’s game time. I try to envision myself going through the stunt moment by moment to program my brain. You can’t perform and think at the same time. By the time the cameras are rolling, it all has to be second nature.”
What has been the most challenging and dangerous stunt that you have performed?
“Being set on fire. I’ve only done this a handful of times. It’s a fairly rare stunt to perform which makes it that much more fun!”
Can you take us, step by step through the preparation that you went through when you had to do a stunt where you were set on fire?
“Show up with no makeup, no skin lotion and especially no hairspray. When you arrive, a team will be waiting for you to help get you dressed. They will have pre-treated under layers (if you are lucky enough to be clothed) for you to wear that will allow the burn to last a little longer. The less layers, the shorter the burn.”
“The team helps apply a heat resistant gel that is cold and gooey. (Editor’s note: AF Play’n With Fire Hydrogel is an industry favorite) The team has to help because otherwise, putting on the layers myself would be a little difficult. Next is wardrobe over these layers that is pre-treated with an invisible chemical so the camera doesn’t see it. Then you cover any exposed area of your body with the gel and put a thicker layer on your hands, ears and eyelashes-the thinnest-skinned parts of your body. Don’t forget the hair! It will fall right out, I’ve seen it. Action Factory taught me how to burn when I did my first burn. They are the best in the biz, always making sure you’re taken care of and comfortable.”
Have you ever suffered any injuries from stuntwork?
“Yes but that’s part of the job.”
Who are some other stuntwomen that you admire?
“Olivia Jackson and Zoe Bell.”
You’re building up your acting credits with roles on prime time shows like Blue Bloods and Lethal Weapon. What formal training have you had as an actress?
“I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts here in Los Angeles. I began doing community theater in Pennsylvania and have worked with some really amazing people along the way.”
You did a very high profile commercial, “Train”, for Expedia. Like other much talked about commercials that aired during the Super Bowl, there seemed to be a deeper message other than, “Use this product”. In your own words, what is the message behind “Train”?
“The message for me was: “It’s more important to be understanding than to be understood. Especially in today’s world.” They did a beautiful job of staying current without taking sides. What is the key to making the world a better place? It’s you.”
Look for Kate Boyer in Spider-Man Homecoming out this July.
All photos courtesy of Jennifer Buonantony of NRPR Group