Harrison Ford wirenet.com/Red Bull Photofiles

The movie world’s stuntmen and women set themselves on fire and deliberately crash cars, for which the Taurus World Stunt Awards gives them their dues. Allow us to quantify quite how important they, and these awards, are to the film industry…

 

2001...

The first Taurus World Stunt Awards were held back in 2001 in Santa Monica, California, USA. They were established so that the A-list could give something back to the unsung stunt heroes of Hollywood. Among the recipients that day, with an honorary gong (for his support for his own stunt double, Billy D Lucas, among others), was Arnold Schwarzenegger. The ‘Austrian Oak’ used this as a stepping stone to taking control of the entire state of California, when he was elected their 38th Governor in 2003. Other credits from Arnie’s 43-film career include a Golden Globe for best debut performance in Stay Hungry back in 1976 and an MTV Award for Best Male Actor for Terminator 2: Judgment Day in the 1990s. Incidentally, his T-800’s most famous quote from that movie – “Hasta la vista, Baby” – is one of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 of all time.

 

1,500...

The Taurus World Stunt Academy was founded by Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz in January 2001. The Academy counts 1,500 stunt professionals and associates as members, and it is they who vote for their peers in the annual awards. This year’s nominations deadline (for the 2009 calendar year) was January 8, 2010, then the members had a 25-day window from March 8 to April 2 to cast their votes.

 

9...

Awards are given in nine categories: Best fight (which can include any of the four disciplines of boxing, street fighting, wrestling and martial arts); best fire (explosion or self-ignition); best high work (eg jumping or falling from a bridge or building); best work with a vehicle (car chases a favourite); best overall stunt by a stuntwoman; best specialty stunt (anything from working with dangerous animals to hang-gliding); hardest hit by a stuntman/woman (ie impact); best stunt co-ordination; best stunt co-ordination in a foreign (ie non-US) film. So, if you’re a woman actor/director from outside the USA who fought her way out of a burning house with a volley of punches, then leapt off a bridge and landed heavily on a moving car, you’d better get your best dress dry-cleaned and write your acceptance speech now.

 

5555...

The awards aren’t the straightforward celebrity love-in for the industry like other ceremonies – the Taurus show includes a spectacular pyrotechnic extravaganza for the attendees to enjoy. Last year’s, at Paramount Pictures’ 5555 Melrose Avenue studios, involved explosions and car stunts, with people setting themselves alight and freerunning over walls.

 

30...

Each winner receives a stunning trophy in the form of the mythical bull from which the Taurus Awards take their name. The trophy is made from 30 separate pieces of bronze, and the 80cm (31.5in) statuette weighs in at a hefty 12kg (26.5lbs). The award’s designer is Austrian Jos Pirkner, born in 1927 in East Tyrol and trained in Salzburg by renowned local sculptor Rudolf Reinhart.

 

6...

The Taurus World Stunt Awards also have a charitable foundation set up to help stunt professionals that have experienced difficulties because of injuries and a subsequent loss of earnings. A six-person foundation committee includes Jeannie Epper, who was Lynda Carter’s stunt double in Wonder Woman back in the 1970s among other accolades. One pro who has benefitted greatly from the foundation’s help is Tony Angelotti, Johnny Depp’s stunt double as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Angelotti was badly hurt in a fall while filming Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, back in 2005.

 

16, 35, 70...

Hollywood, in sunny LA, California, is of course the hub of the world’s movie industry, and this is reflected in the criteria for eligible US films in which the stunts feature for a Taurus Award. The film must have been shown for at least seven consecutive days in the county of Los Angeles during the year in question. It must have been shot on either 35mm or 70mm film and be at least 60 minutes long. Foreign films, however, don’t have to have been shown in the USA at all and can be shot on 16mm film as well as 35mm or 70mm, which is handy.

 

65...

Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t the only A-lister to throw his weight behind the Taurus Awards – other luminaries include The Rock, Quentin Tarantino and Harrison Ford, himself an honorary award winner in 2003. Ford famously reprised his role as Indiana Jones back in 2008 at the ripe old age of 65, and his longtime support for the stuntmen and women in his movies extended to giving them the odd day off… by doing his own stunts in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. When Indy leaps from crate to crate to find treasure under the evil glare of Cate Blanchett’s Communist agent, that’s Ford himself. Impressive…

The Taurus World Stunt Awards take place on Saturday, May 15, 2010. For more on the organisation, visit taurusworldstuntawards.com

 


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