Chris Silcox – Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Interviews

As a student at Churchill High School in San Antonio in the early 2000s, Chris Silcox could never have imagined the time he spent on stage with the drama department would lead him to an unconventional career in Hollywood.

In the new Marvel Studios reboot “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which opens at theaters this Friday, Silcox was hired as one of three stunt doubles for actor Tom Holland, who portrays teenager Peter Parker (AKA Spider-Man). The job sent Silcox traveling between Atlanta, New York City and Berlin for nearly three months last summer.

“It was one of the craziest and best things that has ever happened to me,” Silcox, 30, told me during a phone interview this past weekend while on a promotional tour for the film in Seoul, South Korea. “I got really lucky.”

After graduating from Churchill in 2004, Silcox, who was born and raised in San Antonio and practiced gymnastics at Alamo Gymnastics Center, studied acting and theater at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also competed in NCAA gymnastics while attending college. Silcox always knew he wanted to be an actor, but didn’t know where his path would lead him to reach that goal.

His career after college began when he landed a gig as an acrobat with Cirque du Soleil, where he worked for the next four years. When one of his Cirque tours ended in Los Angeles one year, Silcox decided to stay in the city and see if he could somehow break into the film industry.

“I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said. “It was an uphill battle, but slowly I started getting work as an actor and a stunt performer.”

Then one day last year, Silcox received a random email from a man named George Cottle, who asked him for his clothing measurements, but offered no other information about the request. The mysterious nature of the email deterred Silcox from offering up the personal information so easily.

“I wrote him back and asked, ‘Why’ and ‘For what movie,’ and he wrote me back and said, ‘Nevermind,’” Silcox said. “Then I Googled him.”

Cottle turned out to be a stunt coordinator and stunt performer for several high-profile films, including “The Dark Knight,” “Inception” and “Kong: Skull Island.” His filmography also listed him as the stunt coordinator for the upcoming blockbuster “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

“I wrote him back and profusely apologized and told him that I loved all of his films,” Silcox said. “He thanked me and said they were sending 12 people in for a fitting to see who was the best size to be a stunt double for actor Tom Holland.”

After the fitting, Silcox and two other stuntmen were chosen for the job. The next thing he knew, Silcox was on the set with the entire stunt crew rehearsing for the new film. Jumping onto a lamppost, getting hit by a bus and getting dragged across the street were standard duties for him most days.

“We were given storyboards and had to figure out how to get stunts done,” Silcox said. “It was like a stunt academy. I got dropped on my head and my back and punched in the stomach. It was so much fun!”

Although Silcox admits it is a bit difficult to know exactly which Spider-Man he is in the final version of the movie since he “did a bit of everything during filming,” he knows he had his hand in every action scene, even if it was pulling the wires his stunt colleagues, and even Holland himself, swung from.

“Whichever one of us is on screen, the others are behind him pulling him into the air,” he said. “It’s a funny industry.”

As much fun as he had hanging upside down in a harness in front of a green screen, Silcox said one of the most surreal moments working on the movie was the first time he tried on an official Spider-Man suit during production. It was then when Silcox felt like he was “a real superhero – like a god.”

“It was unimaginably cool,” he said. “All you want to do is jump around and climb up walls and save damsels in distress. It was fucking epic.”

With “Spider-Man: Homecoming” behind him, Silcox is now anticipating the release of his next film this Christmas, “The Greatest Showman,” starring Hugh Jackman. The musical drama tells the story of P.T. Barnum, the founder of the now-defunct Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In the film, Silcox works as a stuntman, but is also credited with a role as a circus performer.

Until then, Silcox is waiting patiently in the wings ready to swing in to save the day if called upon.

“We’ll see if Spidey or L.A. have anything else in store for me,” he said.

Eddie J. Fernandez – stunt performer

June 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

If you’ve seen an action movie or TV series in the last 25 years, chances are you’ve seen the work of stunt performer and actor Eddie J. Fernández.

Raised most of his life in Chicago, Fernández became a professional kick boxer by the age of 18. He got his break in 1984 when he was hired as a stunt double for the murder mystery “The Naked Face” starring Roger Moore, Rod Steiger, and Art Carney.

It’s been a long road since first entering the film industry as a stunt double. Since then, Fernández has worked as stunt performer in more than 105 feature films including “Backdraft,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Minority Report,” “Spider-Man 3,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Dark Knight.” He has also performed stunt work on TV series such as “24,” “The Shield,” and “CSI.”

Along with his stunt performances, Fernández has enjoyed landing speaking roles as an actor. In 2004, he played Officer Gomez in the Academy Award-winning film “Crash.” This year, he was featured in “The Mechanic” starring Jason Statham and “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper.

During an exclusive interview with me, Fernández talked about how he has been able to stay relevant in the industry for all these years and why he’d rather take on a real explosion rather than one created by special effects.

Was the transition from stunt performer to actor natural for you?

Being a stunt performer for so many years was like getting on-the-job training. If you have people skills and common sense and you have the right attitude, you can pick up a lot of stuff. You always find yourself thinking, “I could have done that!” There is that moment when the camera is on you and you’re like, “Oh shit, what did I get myself into?” but I love it.

How do you keep up with all the younger stunt performers that come in wanting to do the same thing you are?

I see a lot of people coming out to L.A. thinking they have what it takes. I’ve seen a lot of people lose everything because of this business. They never make it. For me it’s all about working hard and keeping up with everyone. The days I get off, I don’t consider myself off because I’m trying to perfect my skills and profession. I go work out. I have cars I take to the racetrack. I practice my high falls.

Have injuries ever held you back?

Yeah, you do get hurt. I’ve been through two shoulder injures, an ankle injury, a couple of concussions. You’re out for a little bit, but if it’s in your heart you’ll bounce right back. That’s why you have to stay healthy in this business.

Does it get harder as the years pass?

Yeah, I don’t recover as quickly as the young birds. I wake up a little sorer than before. I wake up and it’s like snap, crackle, pop. But it’s just my bones. (Laughs) But if you stay fit, you’ve beaten half the battle of aging. You’ll still be able to do flips and fight scenes with all the young ones.

Do you think there should be an Oscar giving every year for Best Stunt Performer?

You know, we do all the hard work and make all the actors look good. (Laughs) I think we should be credited. I know the Emmys are crediting the stunt performers. The Emmys have responded, so hopefully the Oscars will one day do the same thing.

Why are some stunt performers credited and others uncredited for their work on a film?

Yeah, unfortunately it works like that sometimes. I did “The Dark Knight,” which had a big cast and a lot of stunt people. We did a lot on that set and even won the award for Best Ensemble Stunt Group from the Screen Actor’s Guild. But we did not get credited on the film. A lot of times it’s up to the production to make that decision. They have so many people, they can’t credit everyone. But as long as SAG knows it and as long as I know it and as long as I get my royalties that’s all I care about.

Have you had any actors you’re doubling come up to you and insist they can do their own stunt work?

Yeah, some actors feels like their healthy enough, but the production company won’t let them do that because if someone gets hurt it could hold up the movie and they lose money. But directors love that stuff. They want to see the actors doing physical stuff. Even though we are there to protect them, if there is something that’s not too dangerous I will work with an actor so he or she can do it themselves. It’s like a dance. We just have to go over the steps again and again. A lot of times they do pretty well.

How have special effects and CGI changed what you do?

Now, we don’t even need to do a big explosion on the set. They can just do it with computers. We’ve lost some work. Some people say, “Why are we going to put this stunt person at risk if we can just do something with CGI?” Yes, movies like “Avatar” have done some great things, but to me CGI isn’t perfected yet. You don’t always get quality. It’s not the same. As stunt people, we’re going to keep performing even though there is a magic camera.

So, are you OK with the term stuntman or would you rather be called an actor?

A lot of people will ask me, “So are you a stuntman?” and I’ll go, “No, I’m an ‘action actor.’” I do both. I’ve been putting that on my contract for about 17 years and it’s catching on. I always scratch “stuntman” out and put “action actor.”