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The Most Dangerous Job in Hollywood

Marzo 2011
Dietro le peripezie impossibili dei film d’azione c’è quasi sempre la figura dello stuntman, cioè una controfigura addestrata a interpretare i ruoli più pericolosi al posto delle star. Matt Anderson è uno di loro: qui ci spiega i segreti di un mestiere in cui gli infortuni sono all’ordine del giorno.

di Talitha Linehan

File audio:

Matt Anderson
Matt Anderson

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Matt Anderson has the most dangerous job in Hollywood. He jumps off tall buildings, runs into moving cars and dodges bullets for a living! Matt lives in Los Angeles and has been working as a stunt coordinator, stunt performer and actor for more than 20 years. Perhaps you think you see an actor in an action film hanging out of an airplane or setting himself on fire. But it’s really a stunt performer like Matt.
Stunt performers risk their lives on film sets every day. They usually choreograph their performances and may rehearse for weeks, to make sure nothing goes wrong. But no matter how careful they are, accidents still happen. More than half of all film-related injuries are caused by stunts. Between 1980 and 1990, 37 stunt performers died, most of them doing stunts involving helicopters.
We asked Matt Anderson, who is a former soldier, about the different types of stuntwork:

Matt Anderson (Standard American accent)

Some people have a specialty: you get some guys, they know six martial arts and they’re very proficient and I have some kids that work with me that are like that. I was never a specialist, in any one specific, I am pretty well-rounded. I always found that being well-rounded got you more work. I’ve been set on fire, I’ve fallen 130 feet off a building, I’ve flipped cars, I’ve rappelled down buildings, I’ve jumped out of helicopters. If anything, probably some of the things I have more experience in is anything kind of military, weapons-oriented, which isn’t necessarily “stunt,” but it does cross over. Guns are dangerous, even with blanks, so I’m very good at combat choreography. I know what can be done with that stuff and what’s safe and what isn’t, especially when you combine it with all the rest of the stunts.And underwater: I’m an avid diver, scuba diver, with a ridiculous amount of certifications just ‘cause I enjoy it, so mostly well-rounded, though.


And does he consider himself lucky that he hasn’t died yet?

Matt Anderson

There’s lots of us that are still alive! It is life-threatening. I’ve been injured a number of times. The idea is we’re not daredevils. It’s not like Jackass. Anybody can do a stunt once. It’s easy, if you are stupid enough to do it! The idea is to be able to do it multiple times. I need to be able to... you know, when they say “Back to one,” I need to get up, go back to my first position and do it all over again. And, eventually, our job is to get hurt for the actor, but a good coordinator, his job is to try and make it look as life- or injury-threatening as possible and yet mitigate the actual dangers there. Eventually, you’re going to get dinged, but I’ve been injured, you know, more than a few times, but I’m fairly fortunate. There... I’ve never been... like life-threateningly injured. I’ve been in a couple of places where it was life-threatening, but everything worked like it was supposed to, but I know people that have been very seriously injured and I knew a couple of people that have died doing it.


And if being a stunt performer is a tough job, Matt Anderson says it’s getting tougher:

Matt Anderson

It’s difficult! There are a million people that want to all work in movies, so there’s a lot of competition, and now it’s spread out a lot more than it was, so, coming to Hollywood, to make it, back when I started, there were far fewer stunt professionals than there are now and there were far more jobs ‘cause Hollywood was the centre of the universe, for film. It’s not anymore. So there’s more people, there’s less work. So you’ve got a lot of competition now. It’s just about holding on and sticking to it.


And, you know, if you have to have a day job, you have a day job. I did four or five different jobs in the industry at the beginning. That was my day job and, oddly enough, when times have been tough, most people go to work at MacDonalds, or as a waiter, that’s the typical Hollywood: “Oh, I’m a waiter and I have a script!” When I had times that weren’t so tough (he means “so easy” - ed), because of my military background, I actually did professional military contracting work and went overseas. So, not quite “waiter job,” but, you know, it paid the bills! 

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To do something for a living. In inglese, se qualcuno ti chiede What do you do? si capisce che ti sta chiedendo che lavoro fai. Questo è perché è sottinteso What do you do for a living? e quindi ‘Cosa fai per vivere’.

Gli inglesi usano il termine all-rounder (che deriva dal cricket) per dire che una persona è brava a fare tante cose. Sa fare tutta la gamma di attività necessarie per un lavoro, per un’attività, ecc. Gli americani invece preferiscono dire well-rounded. Infatti Matt, che è americano, spiega che il suo punto forte è il saper fare un sacco di stunt diversi senza una particolare specializzazione.

A daredevil è uno spericolato, uno scavezzacollo. Solo perché è pronto a correre grossi rischi non vuol dire però che è uno scemo. Jackass è una serie televisiva americana basata sulle esperienze spesso disastrose di stuntmen che fanno queste bravate solo per il gusto del rischio.

You’re going to get dinged.
Questo slang urbano americano ha tanti significati – alcuni osceni! – però dinged vuol dire ‘fatto’ o ‘disfatto’ in tutti i possibili sensi. Quindi you’re going to get dinged significa “prima o poi resterai disfatto, a pezzi”.