9.30.2010

Scary Tends to Impress

I happened on the documentary, Double Dare on Hulu.com (available in the US only) The documentary looks at two stuntwomen: Jeannie Epper, who doubled for Lynda Carter during the Wonder Woman series and performed the famous mud slide scene in Romancing the Stone; and Zoe Bell, a New Zealand native and up and comer. Epper has been working in the business for 30 years and comes from a entire family of professional stunt people. Bell studied gymnastics, Taekwon-Do, scuba and dance. She began doing stunts for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys then Xena: Warrior Princess (both of which were filmed in New Zealand); by the fourth season of Xena, she was the stunt double for Lucy Lawless.

We get the background of each woman, a look at the difficulties that women face in the business, a lot of celebrity interviews, and some additional celebrity cameos that the filmakers shot while making the film.

Watching this, I was reminded of the quote by Ginger Rogers about doing everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in heels. Stuntmen can wear padding over usually loose clothing, but stuntwomen, especially Bell and Epper, usually in skimpy costumes, must do dives, flips, wall breaks and fight scenes with no padding. It's a rare look into gender roles, a very dangerous and underrated profession, sexism, ageism and Hollywood politics. Epper is facing the end of a long career and is dealing with being a mentor, grandmother, wife and how best to use her influence to raise the profiles of stuntwomen. Bell, just off the Xenia series, tearfully leaves home, makes Hollywood connections and lands her first feature roll as the double for Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. Enjoy.


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