The stunt­woman

Bri­tish dare­devil Tiger Rudge has re­cently moved to the US to be closer to the ac­tion – and to hang out with Luke Hemsworth and land work on the next Star Wars film

Friday - - My Working Life -

Were you a thrill-seeker as a young­ster?

Ab­so­lutely! I was a strange kid, into ev­ery­thing, scared of noth­ing. I seemed to see no bound­aries and feel no lim­its. I was swim­ming when I was two, I won the high jump at school even though I was the small­est. The more peo­ple ex­pected me not to do some­thing or told me I shouldn’t or the chance of win­ning was slim, the more I would go all out to prove them wrong.

How did you get into stunt work?

Pretty ran­domly, re­ally. I al­most sold a horse to some­one whose fa­ther was a fa­mous stunt­man and it got me think­ing about what a cool job that would be. The idea of be­ing a stunt­woman had never re­ally oc­curred to me be­fore that point and I didn’t even know it ex­isted as a ca­reer.

What was your first stunt job?

It was for a hor­ror film, run­ning around, get­ting shot at, get­ting grabbed and thrown into an army van. It was great and I loved it. I knew right from that first job that stunt work was what I wanted to do.

Is the busi­ness hard to break into?

Yes, and no. In Eng­land, we have the Bri­tish Stunt Reg­is­ter, and it’s the tough­est in the world. You have to be highly qual­i­fied in six or more skills, and while I am on it, I live in the US now, where there is no reg­is­ter. Some­times it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter what your ex­pe­ri­ence is – it’s more about who you know, or who your fa­ther or your best friend is. The stunt in­dus­try stemmed from the mafia and some parts of that still ex­ist, to a de­gree. The sad part is that you can be tal­ented but not con­nected and not work – or you can be pretty use­less, in with the right peo­ple and work all year long.

Has that hap­pened to you?

Def­i­nitely. I’ve al­ready had many more op­por­tu­ni­ties in the US than I would ever have had in the UK. Amer­ica tends to pro­mote and nur­ture tal­ent – and women who can per­form cool stunts are pop­u­lar right now. Sure, it’s still a pretty male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try, but there’s a real op­por­tu­nity at the mo­ment – women are shin­ing right now.

How are women per­ceived by stunt­men?

It de­pends. You do get some old-fash­ioned types who think it’s not re­ally for women or that they shouldn’t be do­ing cer­tain stunts – which is funny when women can of­ten barely wear stunt pads un­der their cos­tumes be­cause they need to look like the beau­ti­ful, slim ac­tresses they’re stand­ing in for. When it comes down to it, we hit cars in ex­actly the same way as the men do. Luck­ily, the di­rec­tors and stunt co­or­di­na­tors usu­ally have no favouritism when it comes to stunts.

When did you join the big leagues?

There have been mo­ments where I felt that I’d stepped up a gear, I guess – like the time I got a call to chase Tom Cruise around Lon­don for the movie Edge Of To­mor­row and I had a scratch-your-head mo­ment. Go­ing to Pak­istan and teach­ing 100 guys how to do stunts was an­other. Mo­ments like that make your ca­reer seem mag­i­cal, but they only last a mo­ment and then you’re swiftly back on planet Earth.

Do you have a spe­cial­ism?

Cars and horses. Horses are my soft spot. I’ve learnt all my life skills from horses and still love to work with them. I co-run a film com­pany for horses.

Sounds like your dream job!

Oh, it’s the big­gest priv­i­lege. We just worked on a horse job for a fea­ture with Luke Hemsworth called Abi­lene, set in the Wild West. My part­ner, Ian Van Tem­per­ley, was dou­bling Luke; I trained and bought in the jump­ing horse for the job. See­ing it all come to­gether was one of my best ex­pe­ri­ences yet.

What was the scari­est stunt you ever did?

I had cou­ple of stunts go wrong – a ve­hi­cle caught fire when it shouldn’t have and I’ve had equipment go wrong on a cou­ple of occasions, like the time my ve­hi­cle sank. It can be pretty hairy but you just have to keep it to­gether. I’m a pretty laid-back, calm per­son, so at the most dan­ger­ous mo­ments I have a great abil­ity to try to cor­rect things – or at least to come out alive!

What was your worst stunt-re­lated in­jury?

None of my in­juries have been stunt re­lated. I’ve bro­ken and torn mus­cles with horses, play­ing rugby and in a car crash, but none were re­lated to work.

Can you tell us any cool sto­ries from your work on the next Star Wars film?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a re­ally se­ri­ous film. It was very high se­cu­rity and we’re not al­lowed to talk about any­thing at all. It’s a very bor­ing an­swer, I know, but not even the ac­tors could re­veal a sin­gle mur­mur. We wore black capes so no one could even get a glimpse at our cos­tumes at the stu­dio.

Have you ever been asked to do a stunt and said, ‘No way’?

I’ve cer­tainly ques­tioned a stunt be­cause I felt that de­ci­sions had been made by peo­ple who didn’t have the right knowledge. That hap­pened twice – both were high falls, and I didn’t do ei­ther stunt. In the end they went with a dif­fer­ent per­son and I’ve no prob­lem with that be­cause what they wanted wasn’t safe. I’m sure they didn’t like be­ing told this, but hope­fully they took on board my com­ments and no one was hurt.

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