The members of the Lost stunt team take great risks to help make Lost the action packed show that we all love, but unlike the actors and actresses they double, we rarely get to read much about them or their work.
To give you a bit more insight into the process of creating Lost, I’ve interviewed Lost stuntwoman Heather Arthur who does the stunts for, among others, Evangeline Lilly who plays Kate.
How and why did you become a stunt woman?
Heather: My dad is a stuntman and has been for over 30 years. When I was little I always knew I wanted to be a stuntwoman. My dad would have me jump off the refrigerator when I was only two years old into homemade airbags. It was fun. My dad became the stunt coordinator for Lost and said I would be a great double for a girl named Evie. I had never seen the show but quit my job and moved to Hawaii two weeks later.
How do you prepare for a stunt? Do you rehearse and choreograph it a lot?
Heather: It depends on what the stunt is. If it is a fight we may have a few days of rehearsals and record the fight and show it to the director. If it is a high fall, then we may practice high falls before we actually work. It just depends on the stunt. I have never done the same stunt twice so every stunt I prepare for differently. I live by the motto from my dad “Never do a stunt once that you wouldn’t do twice”. He said it has kept him alive.
Could you take us through the process of creating a stunt and pulling it off?
Heather: Each stunt is just so different. The stunt coordinator (that is who hires me) reads the script and talks to the director to understand what he wants to see. Depending on what the stunt is we will have rehearsals or prepare depending on what it is. If it is a fight, which is what most of the stunts on Lost are, then we will rehearse either on the day of the fight or a few days before, record the fight and show the directors, producers and sometimes the actors. If they like it then it is a go and we will perform our fight. Most the time they like it and if they change anything it is usually something small.
Right before I do the stunt I talk to the actress and ask for their feedback. I ask how they they think their character would do the stunt. It is important to me that the actress is happy with my work. Sometimes they say ‘just do what you think feels right’ and other times they offer me great insight.
If there is such a thing as a “normal day” on set, could you tell us a bit about it?
Heather: When I first get to set and I find my dressing room to put down my stunt bag (my bag of pads I think I may need for that day of work). I check in with one of the PA’s (production assistants) to let them know that I am there. Then I put on my wardrobe and I am sent by the PA to go through hair and makeup. In hair and makeup they will try and match me with the actress. Sometimes the actor is sitting in hair and makeup also so they can just look over and see exactly what her hair is. If the actor is not there they will have pictures of her hair and makeup. Next I head to set and wait for my time to work. The saying on set is hurry up and wait. It is kinda crazy before I get up to set but once I get to set it is a lot of waiting. When I am sitting waiting I am usually mentally preparing for my stunt. Then the cameras roll and I do my job. I usually stay on set until the whole scene I work in is done then the Director will release me when they know they won’t need me anymore. Then I take off my wardrobe and get cleaned up by hair and makeup.
Is there any stunt you’ve done on Lost that was particularly challenging or that you are particularly proud of?
Heather: Back on Lost season two on the episode “The Other 48 Days” when I was super new to doing stunts I had to throw myself down a very steep hill/cliff with another person. The hill was covered in thorn bushes and I was doubling Ana Lucia so I was sleeveless. The other guy that was falling down the hill with me had pads on everything but because of my wardrobe I only had knee pads on. I was standing on the top of the hill/cliff and I said this is going to hurt. I did it twice and my dad was so proud (not because it was such a hard stunt but because he was so proud of seeing his daughter follow in his footsteps and up to this point it was my most difficult stunt) that he got tears in his eyes. I was banged up and my arms were covered in thorns but when I saw my dad crying for happiness I didn’t feel a thing. I will always remember that day when my dad now looked at me as a stunt girl.
Have you ever been injured during a stunt?
Heather: Most the time I work I will almost always leave with a few bruises and scraps. But I got injured pretty good working on One Tree Hill. I got hit by a car at about 18 miles per hour and got thrown off the top of the car and landed on my head on the concrete. I was taken to the hospital because I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand up. I now know what boxers must feel like when they get knocked out and can’t get up. I ended up having a level 2 concussion and took about a month off work to recover.
You’ve doubled Evangeline Lilly and Michelle Rodriguez among others. How has it been to work with them?
Heather: Every actress is so different just like every co-worker you work with is so different. Some actresses are super friendly and others are more standoffish. It just depends.
Do you try to adapt to their style of movement and so on during the stunts or do you just do your own thing?
Heather: I almost always talk to the actress to ask how they think their character would do it. It is important that they are happy with my work. I also talk to them after the first take to ask their feedback.
Any tips for the guys and girls out there who would like to become a stuntman/woman?
Heather: It is a very hard industry to break into. I am still super new and still trying to get known and my dad was a stuntman. I believe in following your dreams so if that is what you want to do give yourselfa couple of years to struggle and work as a waitress/waiter while you try and make it. Most jobs in this business are super hard to get into but I think someone has to do it.
Are you a fan of the show, and if so, do you have any theories on what’s going on?
Heather: I never saw the show until I was hired to work on it and I had to google who played Kate. I watched Season two every week but I haven’t seen that much of season 3. I mostly just watch it when I work to see how the stunt turned out and to see how I can improve next time.
Where can we see you next?
Heather: I will be on Lost this week a few times. I worked on Transformers that comes out this summer, and the movie Next that comes out this month.
Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Heather: I am still new to stunts and there are a ton of very talented people in this business. Just like any job there is always the down side, but for me this is the best job in the whole world!
If you want to read more about Heather, she writes about her adventures over at her blog.