Stuntmen live with risk of death at any moment

Stuntmen live with risk of death at any moment

İZMİR - Anadolu Agency
Stuntmen live with risk of death at any moment

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Turning over a few times in a car, falling from a high place, being engulfed in flames and jumping to another vehicle from a moving motorcycle are among the most dangerous and exciting scenes of films and TV series, and just part of the job for stuntmen. They live with the risk of death while performing their duty. 

Action scenes, which can last only a few seconds, are shot under very difficult conditions after much preparation to draw viewers to a production. 

In order to act in very dangerous action scenes for internationally-renowned films, stuntmen take extensive education. But this is not enough, as the teams responsible for protecting the lives of the stuntmen must also do their best.  

Turkish stuntman Ayhan Yıkgeç, who has worked with acclaimed actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Jean Claude Van Damme in many Hollywood action films including “Terminator,” “Die Hard,” “The Transporter” and “Taxi,” spoke about the action-packed life of stuntmen. 

Many stuntmen are wounded or die

Born in Germany to a family from İzmir, Yıkgeç said he learned how to drive by driving damaged but working cars in a junkyard in Germany. When he realized his talent for driving cars and motorcycles, Yıkgeç decided to become a stuntman and attended a school in the United States. He said that actors did not take risks in dangerous scenes, adding, “It is our mission to shoot these scenes because we are trained.” 

Yıkgeç said each scene in his 26-year professional life has been full of dangers. 

“I take my own measures to reduce the risk. Lots of stuntmen have been wounded or have died. I’ve preformed in 12-13 car accident scenes or I fell 25 meters from a helicopter. We are hit by cars going 80 kilometers per hour. If the driver makes a mistake or the stuntman makes a timing error, the risk of death is 100 percent. This is teamwork. For example, if my car tumbles down, the person who installed the barriers inside the car can kill me if he made a mistake. I may be crushed under the rooftop if a barrier moves one millimeter. In fire scenes, we use a gel which protects our skin from the flames, but it only protects for 48 seconds at most. If the scene takes longer than expected, we burn. People think some scenes are faked, but we really do it. Films are known for the names of their actors, but we act in critical scenes,” he said.

Stuntmen live with risk of death at any moment

Speaking on the difficulties the families of stuntmen face, Yıkgeç said, “My mother doesn’t understand the risks while watching a film on television but suffers when she comes to the set and views the shooting. She cannot stand it. I know how she suffers. She asks me to give up this job. When you leave home, your parents wish for you to be safe and sound. But ours cannot tell us that. We go to get involved in accidents. The better we have an accident, the more we get awards.”  He said that in recent years, demand for stuntmen has increased in Turkey to offer good action scenes to Turkish viewers like the ones in Hollywood.

“This is why high-quality productions are produced with real action scenes rather than camera tricks,” he said. “There are many fearless people in Turkey but this is not enough to become a stuntman. My goal is to open a school to train new talented stuntmen,” Yıkgeç added.