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Anyone who would argue that stunt people aren’t an essential part of the filmmaking process probably haven’t been to the movies in a very, very long time. For years, people throughout Hollywood have argued that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should recognize the people that bring our most thrilling action sequences to life. Now, the director of the John Wick franchise has offered his thoughts on whether there should be an Oscar category for stunts, too.
Chad Stahelski is one of Hollywood’s most legendary stuntmen. Before he began working as a stunt coordinator and director, he was most famous as Brandon Lee’s double in The Crow. Though he’s lent his talents to films like Captain America: Civil War and Birds of Prey -- and he’ll be contributing his talents to The Matrix 4 as well, he’s definitely best known for his work as the director of all three John Wick films.
If wardrobe, hair and makeup, certainly all the creative departments here are considered for Oscars, then yes, it makes perfect sense that the stunt department would be considered for an Oscar. Now on a personal level, being a former stuntman, second unit director, and all that stuff – for all the generations that were either before me, trained me, or current now – I don’t know a single person in my 30 years of work that got into stunts to win an Oscar.
He brings up a good point -- that stunt people haven’t been motivated by accolades, because there just haven’t been many up until this point. He also made the point to DiscussingFilm that, while the recognition may be long overdue, the creation of an Oscar category for stunts won’t make or break the people behind the scenes:
Apart from all that, as a stunt community, I don’t think we’ve ever been held back. I think we’ve done pretty fucking good without being motivated by an award. It’s always been a bit of a stunt person thing to be like, 'Look, I’m not doing it for the thanks.' You are, according to the song, the unsung hero. We’re not doing it because we want to be celebrities. I have three or four friends that I think are some of the best stunt performers on the planet. When they come to me and say, 'Hey, good job' or 'Hey, we liked your movie; we thought this is really cool.' On a personal level, that’s all I need. I’m good.
If there were a category for stunts at the Oscars, there’s little doubt films like John Wick would routinely make the cut. Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves have both spoken often about the work that has gone into crafting many of those films’ incredible moments -- and it sounds like there are even more in store for us with John Wick 4.
Do you think there should be an Oscar for stunt work? Let us know in the comments!