8 Questions with……….actor/stuntman Bryan Dodds

Its 1:08 pm
warm/sunny

Welcome to another 8 Questions with…..

One of the best aspects I like about this series is when I get to talk to someone in a profession I know nothing about for the first time. While everyone has a different story to share,the first time you get to discuss it with a professional is pretty unique to me.
So when Bryan Dodds was one of the 50 artists who agreed to chat me and that he was a stuntman,well…I was pretty jazzed to talk with him.
To do the absolutely crazy stuff stunt people do on daily basis is incredible and to also work as a actor as well? That takes an immense amount of talent and heart to pull that off. Bryan is one of a rare breed of artist who can pull it off (Zoe Bell and Danielle Burgio being two others that I know of). So how does one handle being set on fire in the morning and then audition in the afternoon? For the answers to that and other topics,let’s sit down and ask Bryan Dodds 8 Questions,shall we?

 

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little of your background

    My name is Bryan Dodds and I’m a performer who does both acting and stunts in the entertainment industry.  I’m originally from a small town in Pennsylvania called Boiling Springs.  I grew up there playing traditional sports such as football, basketball, track & field, baseball, etc…Football being my favorite. I also loved riding ATV’s, jet skies, snowboarding, and water skiing as we lived in the country and had access to not only a body of water, but four seasons!
       After playing football in college for a few years, I ended up moving on to mixed martial arts.  In addition to my brother already being here in Los Angeles, martial arts helped lead me here as I was pursuing MMA/Cage-fighting.   After a few months, I was approached by someone from the William Morris Agency who mentioned I should get into acting.  I asked him, “As in, get into acting for work?”   He said, “It is LA after all”.
    I had done theatre in high school, and taken classes in college, as it was always a hobby of mine, but I never thought to pursue it for a career.
       About 2-3 years into acting in Los Angeles, I met a gentleman who mentioned I should combine my martial arts training and acting (at that time I was purposely keeping them separate so I could focus on each one individually).  This gentleman was a stunt coordinator.  I had started training in Wing Chun and Shaolin Kung Fu, and he wanted to use me in one of the films he was working on.  He eventually ended up mentoring me and aiding me in becoming a stunt man in addition to an actor, as well as becoming one of my good friends.
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What came first for you,acting or stunts? How the second career evolve from the first?
  I think I answered some of this in the first question, but to be more specific, I have always done acting for fun.  Even as a kid my father had me in skits in cub scouts.  I even used acting for class projects as we did “funny instructional videos”.  Theatre, again, was something I did as a hobby in addition to sports.
      It wasn’t until I met a publicist from the William Morris Agency, that I decided to pursue a career in it.So, acting came first.
      My now friend, and stunt coordinator, introduced me to the athletic side of the industry – stunts.  He told me I could take what I already knew (including past experience and recreational activities) and use them for stunt work, as long as I could change it to work for “on-camera”.  He taught me that doing martial arts and fights needed to change to “sell” on camera.  This was a similar principle for a lot of what I did (sports and activities).
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 What does your work entail?
  My work varies.  One day I could be doing a stunt acting role in which I deliver a line and then get shot by a gun, and another day I could be doubling an actor and getting lit on fire or jumping out of the way of a car.   Then another day I could just be there delivering dialogue with no stunts at all.
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Is there anything you won’t do as a stuntman?
  Is there anything I won’t do as a stuntman?   That is a tough question.  As a stuntman, I’m always looking for a fun or exciting stunt to do for the next movie or show.  BUT, I also don’t want to do something that I have no experience or training with.  That is how people get hurt and safety always comes first in the stunt world.  SO, currently there are a lot of things I won’t do and that’s simply because I don’t have the experience and training.  However, if I had to mention one thing I don’t think I would EVER do as a stuntman…100 foot high fall without a decelerator…or anything where I’m fully naked! *LOL*
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Do the actors that you are stunting offer you any acting tips or advice?
If so,what have been the three best pieces of advice you have gotten?
  When I am doubling an actor, they don’t normally give any advice.  Not because they are being rude or they don’t care, but mainly because they are being respectful or simply focusing on their character.  Normally if you’ve made it to set, you’ve done something right and either the director or producer liked what you’ve done.
       I’ve received numerous active advice over the years….from acting coaches, workshops, my own brother (veteran actor and amazing talent), and even articles.  If I had to name three:
       – Stillness on camera (not adding too much movement but rather keeping everything within the eyes)
       – Staying vulnerable and transparent (this allows you to access certain emotions, letting the character come out as you get out of the way, and be able to respond and act naturally without “acting)
       – Use your imagination (as actors we are creators.  I love to envision everything as I’m reading my script/dialogue as it helps me dive into the scene and character)
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What three stunt people would you love to work with today and why?
  I would love to work with:
      – Burt Reynolds (I know he passed away recently but he is a legend!):  Burt has a similar story as mine but the reverse.  He was a great stuntman who then became an actor.  Many say you can’t cross over or do both, but Burt did and was great at both!
      – Jackie Chan:  As a martial artist, its always fun working with other martial artists who are in stunts.  Jackie is one of the greatest!  I watched his “Master Class” training video when I first got into stunts to learn and understand the industry better.  He and his teams are truly some of the best in the world.   In fact, his team would sometimes compete against Sammo Hung’s stunt team in each movie to try and one up the other with the greatest stunt or stunt sequences.  It was all in good fun, but exciting to watch.   Plus, Jackie is the king of using acting beats in his fights and stunts (a very hard task).
       – Every trailblazer that paved the road and opened doors for the careers all stunt professionals like myself have today.   Some of these guys and gals didn’t have the kind of gear or rigs we have today to protect ourselves.  They invented it and came up with the safety protocols to make sure we are all safe today.  They negotiated and worked with our union to make sure the contracts would not only keep us safe, but make sure we could have a career in this.   It’s hard to name just one individual as a third, because there are so many great stuntmen and women!
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How hard is it to balance both careers and have you ever had an audition while working on a project? If so,how do you handle it?
  Balancing both careers can be tough.  You’ve got to train for both, and that means more time and money.  It’s all worth it in the end, but balancing the time and money with a day job (if you are not a working actor or stunt professional) is the tricky part.
       I have had auditions before when I’m supposed to be reporting to set the next day.  This happens the more you work as a stunt performer and/or actor.  Thankfully, many offices accept self-tapes nowadays, if they cannot reschedule the audition day for another date and time.  Most of the time there is a workaround, although you want to try and reschedule as little as possible.  On the other hand, you can also book out with your agent, which is the norm when you book work, but there are some times when you have to resort to the before mentioned.
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What education or skills are needed to do your job as a stuntman?
  Education and skills are something we are constantly improving and going after.  Knowing safety, set etiquette, the proper way to perform a stunt on camera, and who you are working with are all things one must know.  The more you know the safer you will be, the better the day will go, and the more you will get hired.  Also, people like to work with other people they can get along with.  This is universal, especially on sets.  YES, you need to be able to perform the action, but you should also be able to be a nice person to be around.  After all, we are going to be there all day in most cases!
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What has been your best gag so far?
  My best gag so far….hmm…this is tough, as there have been so many that have been fun!   From fire burns to dog attacks, to diving out of the way of a car or falling through an elevator ceiling….they are all very exciting.
      I’d say one of the oddest/funniest/exciting stunt jobs I did was being in a green suit and close lining another stunt guy with a kicking pad (which was covered in a green cloth).  It reminded me of playing football and was not only fun but nostalgic as well!   The gag was a SWAT vehicle hits a pedestrian, but they wanted to be safe, so they went the green screen way.  I played the SWAT vehicle.  Fun day for me!
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I have heard that stunt people are very competitive,true or false?
    Yes, we are very competitive.  However, its a friendly environment for the most part.  You become friends/family with many of the performers you train and work with.  Even the ones you don’t.  Most of us root for one another because the hustle on the stunt side of things is tough, and there is nothing like it out there.  Stunt performers are professional athletes in a sense…we train when we are not working, and when we do work we are doing athletic/dangerous stunts that some or most cannot do…it’s why we get paid well to do what we do.  We all understand this, which is why its like a big family.
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The cheetah and I are coming in to watch you act in a play but we are a day early. Now you have to play tour guide,what are we doing?
   One of my favorite places to go to meet friends or take family is the Pasadena area.  Whether you are going to downtown Pasadena or South Pasadena, there is plenty to see and do!   Pasadena has an old town/city vibe with a new and hip feel, and a small upscale flare.
         One of our favorite streets (and also the most popular) is Colorado Blvd.  At the corner of Pasadena Avenue heading east on Colorado, you start off by seeing True Food Kitchen (great restaurant with tasty and healthy food).   Along the north and south sides of the road, you have various shops and stores such as Banana Republic, Zara, Tesla, Urban Outfitters, Apple, Nike, H&M, Starbucks, and a favorite of mine:  Le Pain Quotidien which is a delicious, rustic-chic bakery/cafe chain.
          As you continue on you will see more stores and restaurants/cafe’s.  There is a small pathway on the Northside of the street that leads to a hidden nook where you can find IPIC Theaters and a nice patio surrounded by a few other restaurants in the same area.  A block over from this hidden nook, you’ll find a cross street (Fair Oaks) that will lead you to a family owned coffee shop by the name of Copa Vida.  One of my favorite place to drink coffee and meet with friends, this light-filled cafe joins coffee and tea with pastries, sandwiches and other munchies.  Its a great place to have friendly meetings for both business or pleasure.
          Continuing down Colorado, you will cross more stores, coffee shops, and restaurants, finally coming to an outdoor mall called The Paseo.  Here you can shop numerous retailers, grab some food or coffee, and even go to the ArcLight Cinemas to end your evening.
          If you’d like a late night drink, I’d recommend the Bodega Wine Bar on the second floor of The Paseo.  A very casual indoor and outdoor space, you can choose from a menu of various small plates, and a delicious wine and drink menu!   They have great appetizers, and sometimes have life music.
          Pasadena is truly a great city to spend the day (and night) in.
I like to thank Bryan so much for taking the take off his busy schedule (he is currently filming “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “) to sit and chat with me. After reading his stories and watching more of his peers doing some of the craziest stunts,its more then high time for stunt people to get their own Oscar category and get it now.

To follow Bryan’s next movie…you can follow him on his IMDb page here.

You follow Bryan on Twitter.
He also has a Facebook page.
Join Bryan’s InstaGram here.

Feel free to drop a comment or question for Bryan below and come back for another 8 Questions dropping soon.

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