Meet lo­cal girl Rhi­anna Buchanan: movie stunt star


DRIV­ING a car with Hugh Jack­man, hang­ing out with The Rock and do­ing gi­ant leaps in a mon­ster truck are just in a day’s work for one lo­cal girl who is mak­ing a big im­pact in the stunt in­dus­try.

Rhi­anna Buchanan grew up in the Scenic Rim and has worked as a stunt dou­ble for Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, driven a car with Hugh Jack­man in the pas­sen­ger seat and hung out with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Not bad for the 30-year-old who is tak­ing time out from her movie ca­reer to tour the na­tion with the Mon­ster Jam team, which is com­ing down un­der next month.

Mon­ster Jam is the world’s most pop­u­lar mon­ster truck event, where the mas­sive ve­hi­cles leap into the air, ac­cel­er­ate at huge speeds and, ba­si­cally, trash the place.

Born in Hil­lview just up the road from Ip­swich, Rhi­anna’s par­ents owned a bike shop, so it was no sur­prise that the self-con­fessed girl with “ants in my pants” was drawn to­wards play­ing out­side with the two-wheel­ers.

“I was al­ways out­side,” Rhi­anna said from her par­ents’ home where she was pre­par­ing for the tour.

“I’ve just got back from Mon­ster Jam Univer­sity (that’s a real place), as there aren’t too many places in the world you can go to where they teach you to drive a mon­ster truck.”

Rhi­anna ad­mits she didn’t have much idea what to do when she fin­ished school, think­ing that she would even­tu­ally help run the fam­ily busi­ness.

“I fin­ished Year 12 and didn’t re­ally have too much of an idea what I wanted to do. I was born into a mo­tor­bike shop, my par­ents bought it the year be­fore I was born, but they sold it when I was in grade 12, as I al­ways as­sumed one day I would run the busi­ness.

“My fi­ance Jack, who also has a love for bikes, started do­ing mo­tor­bike stunt shows, and I helped him with that. I started an­nounc­ing at the shows, and then even­tu­ally rode in the shows ... hon­estly it just snow­balled from there.

“I was rid­ing more, learn­ing more and op­por­tu­ni­ties came up. I was taught as a kid to take ev­ery op­por­tu­nity as it comes, and I wanted to give ev­ery­thing a red-hot crack.”

Working on the stunt shows with her other half set her up for what led to working on The Wolver­ine in Syd­ney.

“Wolver­ine was my first real look into stunt work. I was working with Jack as his me­chanic on the movie and

of­fer­ing in­sight into the dif­fer­ent stunts for the movie. It was one of those lucky things and they got to know me.

“They re­alised that they had a scene with ac­tor Rila Fukushima where she was fol­low­ing Wolver­ine around, and they didn’t have a dou­ble. They called me over and asked if it’s pos­si­ble for me to do the stunts.

“I met Hugh on set while I was working on the bikes, he came past and in­tro­duced him­self. He’s well known for be­ing friendly and he re­ally is.

“I’m chat­ting to him and next minute I’m in the Audi ready to do this stunt, and he jumps in the car. He said, ‘What are you do­ing here?’ I said, ‘I guess I‘m driv­ing you.’ He is just an in­cred­i­ble hu­man be­ing and such a cool guy.”

Af­ter fin­ish­ing work on Wolver­ine, the cou­ple went back to the stunt shows while do­ing the odd job for TV com­mer­cials, and Jack trav­elled to Namibia to do some stunt work on the block­buster Mad Max: Fury Road. Rhi­anna was called upon to be a stunt ad­viser on Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence star­ring Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. Then she got an­other phone call.

“I was trav­el­ling through Amer­ica and got a call from an Aussie stunt co-or­di­na­tor about the pos­si­bil­ity of do­ing some work on this movie he was working on,” she said. “It ended up with me go­ing to Hong Kong for a month to work on Ghost in the Shell where I was the dou­ble for Scar­lett Jo­hans­son.

“Look, I’d love to say be­ing on a movie set is all glitz and glam­our, like ev­ery­one thinks, but the truth is it’s long hours and lots of repet­i­tive­ness. You work around the clock, and you could be film­ing both day and night. You spend lots of time sit­ting around and then you get the call ... then it’s on. It’s a bit stress­ful but also a ton of fun, and so re­ward­ing when you get to see the re­sult at the movie pre­miere, plus I try to see where I am in the movie – of­ten it’s hard to tell.”

Driv­ing a mon­ster truck is, of course, to­tally dif­fer­ent to rid­ing a bike, and Rhi­anna says you need to rely on all your senses in the cab.

“When you’re in­side a mon­ster truck you have a hel­met and neck re­straint on, then a five-point harness. You lit­er­ally can­not move,” she said. “They are de­signed to take a hit, and the tech­nol­ogy is in­cred­i­ble. These trucks are jump­ing higher and fur­ther than ever be­fore, while keep­ing driv­ers safe. You don’t have any head move­ment be­hind the wheel so you must rely on your pe­riph­eral vi­sion.”


REVVED UP: Rhi­anna pre­pares to film a scene for Ghost in the Shell.

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