Entertainment Weekly: Colleen Ketchum
Behind the Scenes with a Hollywood Stuntwoman
Actors are known for slipping into characters like a second skin, but what about the stunt people who have to not only take on the characteristics of the actor they are doubling but also stay safe while hurtling through the air? That’s seriously versatile. Colleen Ketchum, who counts being a stuntwoman on film and television productions such as Orange is the New Black, Arthur, Law and Order: SVU and Cop Out, takes that mutability even further. We chatted with Ketchum to find out exactly how she balances her on-set life with her family and another seriously active, full-time career!
What’s the best part about being a stunt double?
I do have to say, I love the challenge of the stunts. Even the simple ones, like hanging, aren’t as simple as they seem. You’re kind of in position. It’s fun to see how they translate after you go through and do them.
You’re always wondering how did that look if you don’t get to see through the lens of the camera, how did it look from that angle, did I really sell it from that angle.
Do you consider one kind of stunt to be your specialty? Or do you like a wider variety?
I like the choreography of the trips, falls, chases and fights. I have to say although it may appear like a simple task; hangings are a lot more difficult than they appear! Hanging for long periods of time can be exhausting, for sure.
What’s the biggest misconception about stunt work?
I do think a lot of people think that in doing stunt work you don’t feel the falls at all, for some reason. In doing stunt work, the stunt coordinators are so, so good and prepared at making sure everybody is really safe on the job. It is their number one priority and they are so good about it. But that said, you are still falling on the ground, you really still are doing moves that you end up getting bumps and scrapes.
How are you versatile in your roles as a stuntdouble?
As a stunt double I am fairly versatile due to my size and athletic build. I have doubled for women, men and even a teen-age boy.
Having a background as a gymnast is a major asset since it taught me how to fall. Going with the fall, and gravity, instead of fighting the momentum is often important. Being able to tuck and roll out of falls versus trying to stop them by sticking limbs out prevents injured arms and legs.
Outside of being a stuntdouble, how else are you versatile in your life?
Outside of being stunt double I think what makes me most versatile is that I created BeyondBarre that I designed to keep me strong and safe while doing stunts. A number of other well known stunt women have liked the workout so much that they have become certified in the method and use it to keep their bodies strong while hurdling through the air.
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