Tell me a little bit about “La La Land” and the story of the film.
The story of La La Land is about pursuing your dreams in Hollywood. If life in LA brings you to a dead stop, just get out and break into song and dance. Or flip the person off next to you.
What were some of the unique challenges you faced working on “La La Land”?
The complexity of intertwining stunts and dancing together. Keeping the action true to Damien Chazelle’s vision. We were telling the story in the midst of 100 dancers performing and elevating the action to express the emotion. Many stunt professionals are excellent at performing the stunts, but the added challenge in La La Land was the stunt work had to be done in time with the music. There was a lot of mutual respect between the stunt team and Mandy Moore’s dance team. They became one.
When you first learned what the opening scene was supposed to be, what was your initial impression and how did you go about coordinating it?
My initial impression was that I was terrified (laughs). Collaborating with Damien and Mandy, we hired the right people to express the LA street feeling: a gymnast, a BMX rider, a skateboarder and a Parkour free runner. Safety was the most important thing.
What does your job typically entail, and how does it differ from project to project?
As a stunt coordinator, the job is to help the director execute the action of the story. You have to make sure the action you are presenting to the writer and director stays true to the characters. If your character is an executive and he ends up in a bar fight, he is not going to fight like a professional martial artist; he is going to fight like an untrained executive who is fearing for his life.
What have your experiences been like doubling for Mickey Rourke?
Mickey Rourke is a master at his craft and a really great guy. He has played all these bad ass characters, and he is in complete control of his physicality – a great fighter, but deep down inside he is a real pussy cat. Meow.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I’m looking forward to working with Matthew Carnahan again. He is the creator of House of Lies which I stunt coordinated for five seasons. As a writer/director/actor, Matthew has inventive ways of using the camera to tell the story. His upcoming series is going to be amazing.
La La Land is in theaters now.