Joanna Bennett, 31, is a member of the stunt team who recently worked with Brie Larson on the set of Captain Marvel. She lives in West Hollywood, California
My alarm goes off…
As early as 2am, depending on my call time – I may have to wear prosthetics and extreme hair and make-up, which can take around four hours. I pack my stunt bag with cushioning gel pads and harnesses and I put on leggings and a top from Lululemon. On the way in, I listen to a podcast like The Ricky Gervais Show or an audiobook – I’m listening to The Power by Naomi Alderman now.
I’m responsible for…
Preparing and performing any stunt that is necessary to a script, with the help of a stunt and fight coordinator. This can include anything from weapon work to fight scenes. I am also there to make sure the actor is trained and comfortable with action scenes.
I got the job…
Through being a gymnast. There was a gymnastics TV show filming when I graduated and they were looking for doubles. I got the job and I was hooked. I spent years learning how to fight, doing boxing, judo and jiu-jitsu. My big break was in 2013 when I doubled for Hailee Steinfeld in Barely Lethal.
My typical day…
Sees me arrive on set and change into my base layers: the superhero suit doesn’t go on until later. Then, I go to hair and make-up. I’m almost always put in a wig, which is a long process. This is when somebody will take my breakfast order – I often have a vegetable omelette.
Once I’m ready, we rehearse scenes for that day. Everything needs to be signed off by the director, the lighting director and the director of photography before we start shooting.
A lot happens in pre-production, too. On Captain Marvel we began rehearsing three months before production even started. Because the movie is extremely stunt heavy, I shared the part with another double, Renae Moneymaker. We went through the action scenes with Brie to work out what she could and couldn’t do.
Most of the time, I do the more complex or extreme scenes. In the past, I’ve been thrown 15ft across a room and fallen 300ft from a skyscraper. In those moments, I have to just attack the situation. When I start to doubt myself, that’s when things can go wrong. Other scenes are more technical. Like if you’re punching someone in the face, you have to make sure it’s believable – harder than it looks!
Depending on the director, we can shoot a scene between 20 and 70 times. For lunch, I grab seafood and salad from catering. I finish at 8pm most nights.
My most memorable moment…
Was the first time I put on an iconic superhero suit. It was a career goal.
The worst part of my job…
Is fighting in heels and skirts. We don’t always get the big padded costumes like the guys.
The best part of my job…
Is filming around the world. I’ve lived everywhere from Morocco to Australia.
I pick up Mexican food on my way home. Most nights, I have a glass of red wine and jump into bed to binge-watch Friends or The Office. I go to a spa to use the Himalayan salt room, the cold bath and get a shiatsu massage once every two weeks. It keeps my body in check. I then go over the call sheet for the next day and fall asleep by 11pm.
Photography: Jon Stars
Brie says: Joanna is super cool. I got really interested in what it takes to be a stunt double when I met her. It was a world I didn’t understand before.
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