Tell me about . . . life as a film stuntperson

January 28th, 2023 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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Stunt performer Clonakilty’s Avril Murphy names Dungeons and Dragons and the newly-released movie The Bubble on Netflix among her recent projects

How did you get started as a stuntperson?

I was performing in a production of Grease at the Cork Opera house and was approached by a good friend of mine, Jennie Readman, who asked if she could recommend me for stunt work. It certainly wasn’t something I had been considering but it sounded interesting and I wanted to give it my best shot. I come from an athletic background and growing up with three brothers I certainly knew how to hold my own, but I knew it wasn’t common to transition from dance to stunts and I would have a lot to learn. Before the interview I took the initiative to train with a stunt person. It seemed to work as I was given the role of doubling the lead actress in Vikings, and that’s how I got my start.

What’s been your favourite project to date?

Two stand out specifically, one towards the beginning of my career that really helped me fall in love with this as a job. And one much more recently (which in fact isn’t released yet) which really symbolises the growth and progression of my career. The first was Penny Dreadful, where I got to work on great fight sequences with a fantastic group of people while playing a dramatic White Witch with long wigs and blood red contact lenses. The whole atmosphere was special. The second is the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons which had some really exciting action sequences and I got to use a range of my skills from harness work in the air to big falls and even a small feature as a speaking character.

Any close calls? 

Anything involving sword fights, high falls, fire and aerial harness work comes with a degree of risk and most days when you get home, having a few bumps and aches is the norm. Fortunately I haven’t had too many close calls but on my last production I was preparing to do a very difficult stunt, a flat back suicide fall from a cliff. After many rehearsals I received a fairly serious concussion that meant I wasn’t able to complete the scene.

What’s next for you?

While stunts has been an amazing journey for me, you get to a point where you ask yourself how much longer you can spend falling off cliffs and taking hard hits. So right now I’m in the middle of a transition towards acting. I’ve been putting together a new portfolio and showreel and interviewing new agents to represent me on the next stage of my journey

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