Interview with Angela Meryl – Actress and stuntwoman
From the awesome opening scene of Kill Bill to being the double of Halle Berry in the TV show Extant, she is the one that brings your favorite action sequences to life from the script to the screen. With a win and two nominations of the Taurus World Stunt Award and with stunts featuring in movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, James Bond Skyfall, Obsessed and Furious 7, we can easily say that Angela Meryl is one of the most sought after stuntwoman. The following interview will take you on board on a journey full of action!
Doing stunts can be dangerous most often than not. What motivated you to go in that direction and what does it takes for someone who wants to start in that career?
I really love what I do. I love to be active and do something different everyday and challenge myself. To get started it takes hard work and perseverance. A lot of training and skill is a must. Do your research on stunts. They are several books available besides my book. Stunts The How To Handbook.
Do you think having a mentor is a must?
It’s necessary to have a mentor but it definitely will benefit you to have someone that’s doing or has done what you want to do.
How hard is it to visualize and recreate the action that you read from the script and bring it to life?
The Stunt Coordinator goes through the script and breaks down all the stunts. Then he/she will hire the stunt performer for the job and let he/she know what needs to be done.
When you are not on a set, what is a typical day? Do you need to train everyday for your job?
I will work out, audition, acting class and play with my daughter. I will usually try and train a few times during the week, depending on what I want to work on.
Kill Bill’s opening scene is absolutely amazing, how much time does it take to prepare a scene like this, to make sure every single fight move is in sync with your “opponent” and to limited the bruises?
We trained for three weeks for this fight scene, and sometimes we can wear pads to limit the bruises. But every take is different you can never be 100 percent sure where you may get hit.
When you are about to do a stunt, you literally put your life into the hand of the team who coordinate the stunt, like the stunt coordinator and the others stunt double. Is it hard to be able to fully trust with your life people you may have never worked with before?
Yes, it can be challenging to trust your team, but this is a tight knit community everyone has a reputation and most of the time you would have at least heard of the person.
Can you describe to us what a typical day on the set looks like? Are you often in contact with the cast of the film, or do you do your stunt at a complete different time?
Arrive to work early so you can eat and check in with base camp Assistant Director. Go through hair and make up to look like the actor/actress your doubling. Get dressed in your wardrobe and off to set you go!
Second Unit is the action unit where most of the stunts are done, you may never see the actor/actress you are doubling because normally they are on the First Unit. There are times where they come to the Second Unit or the stunt double goes to the First Unit and then you may work very closely with the actor you are doubling and the other actors involved in the scene. It all depends.
Does it happen often that some actors want to try for themselves a stunt, but in the end you are the one doing it?
Most directors want their actors to do as much as they are able because they can shoot as close as possible to the actor and use the actors face. But there are times where it becomes a liability to use the actor because if the actor gets hurt the whole production gets shut down.
Did you often got hurt? What is the most important injury you had while doing a stunt?
I have gotten my share of bumps, bruises, cuts, fractures and concussions.
Is it true that stuntwomen have higher risk of injuries than the men because the equipment’s are not well enough adapted for them? If yes, do you think there is a solution that could change that?
Stuntwomen definitely are not as fortunate to always be able to where pads because of the types of clothing we have to wear sometimes, therefore injuries may be higher but then it depends on the stunt. Most of the time women are in skimpy tight clothes because, as we all know, sex sells. Sometimes we are fortunate to be able to pad up as much as the men.
Did you ever refuse to do a stunt because you thought the execution would be too much dangerous?
I have turned down several jobs that I just didn’t want to do. I took a bungee jumping job for a national commercial but then changed my mind on rehearsal day after I had jumped four times off a 175ft crane. That was one job that I really didn’t want to do.
What is your favorite stunt to do? Is there a kind of stunt that you haven’t done yet but dream to do?
Fights and driving are my favorite stunts, I really want to do a car chase like Fast and Furious.
When you are off set, is action movie your favorite kind of film to watch?
Some of my favorite movies are Kill Bill, Shawshank Redemption, Love Jones and Shaft. I love comedies as well.
You have also decided to take the jump from stunt double to actress. How hard is it to coordinate both jobs? Do you plan to eventually be an actress full time, or do you still want to do stunts?
Both acting and stunts require you to train and study, it’s a full time job. Being the actress I am meant to be is definitely where I am headed. I will always be physical and active because that is who I am and I love doing it.
War of the Movies would like to thank Angela Meryl for the time she took and for her cooperation to answer our questions.
Want to learn more about being a stunt double?! Go check out Angela’s latest book – Stunts: The How to Handbook: Secrets from an Award Winning Hollywood Stunt Woman
You can follow Angela on her official website and social media accounts:
Here’s a compilation of some of Angela’s work
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At world’s end
- American Gangster
- Furious 7
- Kill Bill
- Miami Vice
- Extant (TV Show)
- ER (TV Show)
- Supergirl (TV Show)
- NCIS: Los Angeles (TV Show)
- Charmed (TV Show)
- Grimm (TV Show)
For her stunts resume: Click here
For her acting resume: Click here