by Jessica Nin
Becoming a Hollywood stunt double is not a career for the faint at heart. Jumping out of cars, falling on your face and getting back up, just to do it again is the sign of a true performer. Jennifer Badger has not only been a stunt double for Courtney Cox, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz, (to name a few) but she also serves as a stunt director when duty calls. In the male dominated world of stunt professionals, it’s quite refreshing to see a woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. As Jennifer shares, “If you aren’t willing to knock out teeth, break your nose, scar your face, etc., perhaps a career in acting or modeling would be a better choice.”
Q: What stunt projects are you currently working on?
JB: In the past month, I worked on “Iron Man 3”, the feature film, “Safe Haven”, the new NBC show, “Revolution”, and continued my work as lead stunt double and covering stunt coordinator for season four of “The Vampire Diaries”. In addition, I was blessed to serve as second unit director for a new web series called “Dead Man’s Trigger”.
Q: How did you get started in the entertainment industry as a stunt woman? How has the industry changed since you first started?
JB: I began as a teen actress for Nickelodeon and other productions but, being a tomboy with incredibly supportive parents, I soon learned about stuntwork and began training and pursuing that career. At 16, I booked a live stunt show in Atlanta and at 17 I was called for the feature film, “Hackers” as they needed a stunt double for Angelina Jolie who could roller blade and drive a motorcycle. It was a great beginning.
I relocated to Los Angeles when I was 19 and was very blessed as the actresses at that time had become very thin where as many stuntwoman were still quite athletic and muscular. I was athletic and lean and a great size to double a number of actresses including Courteney Cox, Rose McGowan, and nearly every actress on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” except Buffy herself.
Q: Can you list a few of the movies you’ve taken part in? What has been one of your favorite past or present stunt productions you’ve helped create?
JB: I’ve had some amazing opportunities to double on large shows and some of today’s biggest stars but I do have two favorites. One was a Disney movie of the week called “Bermuda Triangle” which I shot when I was 19. My job entailed freediving to about 40’ in the open ocean off the coast of Honduras and also required that I film there with trained dolphin and a very untrained shark. It was exciting but because I have a strong water background, it was a wonderful job. In 2010 I spent nine months working as Penelope Cruz’s stunt double on “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”. This became my favorite show I’ve ever worked on for two reasons with the first being that it was a truly amazing core group of people that I interacted with and they became the closest thing to an on set family that I’ve ever experienced. Secondly, I had the chance to train with swords for five to seven days a week for the run of the show with our industry’s best sword choreographer, Thomas DuPont. I found that I truly loved the weapon and Thom allowed me to keep learning past what was required for my role which really let me strengthen my skills.
Q: Are there any stunt professionals you grew up admiring, or currently admire? Why?
JB: There are several people that I admire and for a variety of reasons. John Copeman is a stunt coordinator on the east coast that I look to as a mentor. I’ve never known anyone who educates themselves more about the business then he does and while he always strives to provide production with original and creative action, he also is extremely safety conscious which, sadly, can be a rarity.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give up and comers in the industry trying to make a name for themselves as a stunt man/woman or coordinator?
JB: As truly obvious as it may sound, no one should present themselves as a stunt person if they aren’t willing to hit the ground. Yes, it hurts. Sometimes, a lot. The job of a stuntdouble isn’t to be grossly abused however we perform the dangerous tasks that either the actors won’t or can’t do and that does mean taking a beating. Recent years have turned up a number or people arriving as stuntplayers on set and yet unwilling to simply fall down.
For those serious about pursuing the industry, try to find someone in your area who is already working as a professional stuntperformer and see if you can join in on training days. Once you have established skills that you are prepared to perform, marketing is key.
Q: Has ProductionHUB helped find you gigs?
JB: I use it as a valuable resource for my marketing. I’m often able to get some information about upcoming projects independently but need to find the UPM, location, or cast so as to put together a better package for the intended show. These submissions lead to a large majority of my work.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
JB: If you aren’t willing to knock out teeth, break your nose, scar your face, etc., perhaps a career in acting or modeling would be a better choice.
If, like me, you aren’t likely to grace a magazine cover anytime soon and you are passionate about stunts, I encourage you to follow your dreams!