The movie stuntman has directed bone-crunching thriller Extraction and says that CGI will never replace the thrill of seeing a real person risking life and limb on screen

The stunt performers who have made it as directors can be counted on the broken fingers of one bandaged hand. In the 70s and 80s there was Hal Needham (director of Smokey and the Bandit and reportedly the inspiration for Brad Pitts character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Buddy Van Horn (Any Which Way You Can). But the past decade has brought a clutch of new examples: Chad Stahelski (the John Wick trilogy), David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) and now Sam Hargrave, the prodigiously bearded, 37-year-old stunt coordinator who doubled regularly for Chris Evans as Captain America.

Hargrave has made his directing debut with another Avenger, Chris Hemsworth, in the Netflix thriller Extraction. Hemsworth plays the mercenary Tyler Rake, dispatched to Dhaka to rescue a crime kingpins kidnapped son. Though, as the boy points out, he doesnt look like a Tyler. He seems more like a Brad.

Is that a Pitt joke? It kind of is, admits Hargrave with a giggle down the line from his home in Malibu. No matter how much dirt or blood you put on Chris Hemsworth, theres no getting around it: he is devilishly handsome.

Sam
Its real action with real consequences Sam Hargrave directing David Harbour and Chris Hemsworth on the set of Extraction. Photograph: Jasin Boland/AP

The two men go way back. We worked out together on the first Avengers. Hes a Muay Thai practitioner and he beat the crap out of me because hes such a big, strong dude. It was the actor who gave Hargrave some of the soundest advice during the run-up to Extraction. He told me, Dont forget why you got this opportunity. You direct great action, so keep that tool sharp and ready to use.

And he has. The picture is full of action sequences staged with vigour and finesse, typically in extended unbroken takes: following Tyler and an adversary mid-fight, the camera tumbles off a roof, on to a shops awning and into the street, or glides in through a cars open window as the vehicle makes its swerving, squealing getaway during a chase. The knowledge that shots have been sutured together digitally does nothing to diminish the excitement. Indeed, Hargrave was feeling justifiably pleased with himself until he got wind of Sam Mendess 1917, which also exploited the extended-shot illusion. We smacked our heads when we saw that. We were like, Son of a

He has some theories about the current popularity of the long take. It used to be the MTV idea of quick cuts but now theres a whole new generation who watch things shot in real time on Instagram and TikTok. Theres a videogame quality to it, a sense of ownership and involvement. One area where Hargrave has avoided the videogame effect, however, is in the films violence, which is far from flippant: throats are slashed, a face shoved hard on to the teeth of a rake, a child thrown to his death from a rooftop. Theres nothing glamorous about taking a life. Its not that videogame idea of shoot a guy, smile and move on. Its real action with real consequences.

Immediacy and physicality is one of the reasons he believes digital effects will never replace stunts. Thats been a discussion for a few years now. Nothing beats knowing that the body youre watching has been through that experience. Oh man, another human being did that? Its so much more impactful. There are obvious downsides when its bones rather than bytes at stake: Hargrave himself is still feeling the effects from a fall on set almost a year ago. I was trying to impress all the young stunt guys there, he says sheepishly. I fell really hard on my neck and shoulder, and I still cant turn my neck right. I used to be able to get up and walk away. Now it takes a little longer to get out of bed the next day.

Her
Her grit and determination were incredible Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde. Photograph: Jonathan Prime/Universal

Between stunt performers there is, he says, a healthy sense of one-upmanship. Most of us are type-A males with egos the size of Texas. It elevates your game when you see what someone else comes up with. Watching John Wick was a case in point. Its even become a verb: to John Wick someone. Which means to beat them up in a really cool way. The dynamic between actors and their doubles, though, tends to be one of quiet mutual respect, not unlike Leonardo DiCaprio and Pitts characters in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Ive seen relationships like that. Chris and his regular double, Bobby Holland Hanton, have a very tight personal friendship. Actors know the stunt performers have spent their life training, just as the actors have worked on the emotional depth.

The bravest performer hes worked with, he tells me, was Charlize Theron on Atomic Blonde. Some of the stuff she did, her grit and determination, was incredible. And the wussiest? Im gonna have to plead the fifth on that, he laughs. There I was thinking he was brave. Oooh, burn! In that case, Ill nominate myself. Im the wussiest.

Extraction is on Netflix.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/apr/29/sam-hargrave-stunt-performer-director-extraction-netflix-chris-hemsworth

189 COMMENTS

  1. Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Thanks a lot!

  2. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this
    onto a co-worker who was conducting a little research on this.
    And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your blog.
    0mniartist asmr

  3. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed
    reading it, you could be a great author. I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will often come back later on. I want to
    encourage you to ultimately continue your great work,
    have a nice evening! 0mniartist asmr

  4. Good day I am so thrilled I found your site, I really found you by mistake, while I was looking on Askjeeve for
    something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a marvelous
    post and a all round thrilling blog (I also
    love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over
    it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do
    keep up the superb work.

  5. If some one needs expert view concerning blogging and site-building after that i suggest him/her to go to see this
    blog, Keep up the good work.

  6. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great
    choice of colors!

  7. Howdy I am so delighted I found your blog page, I really found you
    by accident, while I was browsing on Askjeeve for something else, Nonetheless
    I am here now and would just like to say thanks a
    lot for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to look over it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up
    the fantastic work.

  8. Hello, i feel that i noticed you visited my web site thus i got here to go
    back the want?.I’m trying to to find things to improve my web site!I guess its ok to use a few of your concepts!!

  9. I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and reporting! Carry on the excellent works guys I¦ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my web site 🙂

  10. free dating sites
    Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell
    someone! https://785days.tumblr.com/ dating sites

  11. After looking into a number of the blog articles on your web page, I really appreciate
    your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark site list and will
    be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web
    site as well and tell me your opinion.

  12. I think this is among the so much significant information for me.
    And i’m happy reading your article. But want to statement on some normal
    things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really great :
    D. Good process, cheers

  13. I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering
    issues with your website. It appears as
    though some of the text in your posts are running
    off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and
    let me know if this is happening to them too? This could be
    a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.

    Cheers

  14. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favourite reason seemed to
    be on the net the simplest thing to keep in mind of. I say to you,
    I certainly get annoyed at the same time as people consider concerns
    that they just do not realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as smartly as defined out the entire thing with
    no need side effect , other folks can take a signal.
    Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

  15. My coder is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type
    on numerous websites for about a year and am
    nervous about switching to another platform. I have heard
    fantastic things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?

    Any help would be really appreciated!

  16. Hello I am so excited I found your webpage, I really found you
    by error, while I was looking on Bing for something else, Anyhow I am here
    now and would just like to say kudos for a tremendous post and a
    all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to look over it all at the minute but I have
    saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back
    to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome job.

  17. Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!
    Very useful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information much.

    I was seeking this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

  18. Attractive element of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to say that I get in fact loved account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing in your augment or even I achievement you get entry to persistently fast.

  19. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an e-mail.
    I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing.

    Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  20. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and let me
    tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is
    something not enough people are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy I found this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  21. What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It positively
    useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give
    a contribution & assist other customers like its helped me.
    Great job.

  22. It’s truly a nice and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you simply shared
    this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  23. Hey there, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!

  24. Very good blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of
    any discussion boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get
    responses from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks! ps4 https://bit.ly/3z5HwTp ps4 games

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here