How Hazal Nehir leapt from backyard training to a Hollywood awards ceremony

© Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool
We spoke with the trailblazing Turkish freerunner to hear how she ended up getting nominated for a Taurus World Stunt Award for her work on the film 6 Underground.
Written by Matt OgbornPublished on
Hazal Nehir has made a name for herself on the global freerunning scene over the last few years and made her film stunt debut in Hollywood director Michael Bay's film 6 Underground. Her work on the movie is up for a Taurus World Stunt Award at the ceremony on November 21.
The 26-year-old became the first Turkish athlete to take part in the Red Bull Art of Motion finals last year and also won the Women's Speed Run category at the Lion City Gathering 2019, with 2020 spent fine-tuning her skills in a unique backyard training set-up at her Ankara home.
Before that, though, her first film job as a stunt performer was on the European sets of Bay's latest action thriller, where she was recruited by famous British parkour group Storror to help inject her slick moves into several scenes on the big-budget Ryan Reynolds film. We caught up with Nehir to find out how it all came about.
How did you get involved with 6 Underground?
Three years ago, Storror were preparing to do the stunt work on 6 Underground and they needed a female parkour athlete as well. They texted most of the female parkour athletes in the global community, I got the job, and I went to Florence in Italy and started shooting there.
How many different locations were you needed at during the shoot?
We went to Florence, Rome and Taranto in Italy, as well as Budapest in Hungary. The filming went on for a few months and the last part of the shoot I was in Rome for a month. I really enjoyed the Rome part because we had been there for a month - I felt more comfortable in the job and I had got used to everything. During the weekends, we were going out training.
Hazal Nehir of Turkey performs during the finals at the Red Bull Art of Motion freerunning competition in Matera, Italy, on October 5, 2019.
Hazal Nehir
Did you have loads of time to prepare each scene?
A couple of days before each scene, we went to the spot check to give us an idea of what we wanted to do and organise the lines. It took us about 40 minutes to one hour to prepare each scene before we started shooting. We had to do about six or seven takes for every jump.
Who was your main stunt coordinator on the set?
We had a stunt coordinator called Andy Cheng, who checked the safety, but Storror organised the parkour set-ups. It is easier for us when somebody who really knows parkour organises it. Storror found me jumps as well as finding my own lines and jumps. There were huge sets with hundreds of people watching me and it was hard to get used to that feeling.
I didn't realise that I had to talk when Michael Bay came up to me. I didn't know what to say!
An image of parkour athlete Hazel Nehir waring a Red Bull cap.
Hazal Nehir
What was your own personal experience of working with Michael Bay?
My English wasn't really good; I didn't know what to do and Michael Bay was talking really fast and loud in front of me. In the morning during one of the Rome days, I found out that I had to act. I didn't realise that I had to talk when Michael Bay came up to me. I didn't know what to say! It was just one sentence, but it was really embarrassing, and he was trying to correct me. Parkour parts are easier than acting parts because I know how to do parkour. I’m really happy that I was involved with that project, though, even if the shooting was tough.
What was the most difficult scene to pull off?
In Budapest, we had to sprint uphill doing parkour six or seven times jumping on walls and obstacles - physically that was really tough. I did a roof gap too - my first one - even though I had not got used to heights. The Storror guys asked me if I wanted to check the jump 10 storeys up and I was like, "OK, it looks good. I want to do it!" It was also really helpful for me mentally to overcome the fear. We didn't practice with safety harnesses as it is really hard for us to do our moves with those on. They trusted me, so it was cool.
Freerunning · 6 min
Take the tour of Hazal Nehir's backyard parkour proving ground
What was the biggest takeaway from your time on set?
Storror are one of the best teams in the world and I learnt about their mindset and training. I have also worked with Storror on a Cisco advert in Korea, which was also really cool.
What are your plans for 2021?
First of all, it is really cool to be nominated for a Taurus World Stunt Award so we shall see how that goes. I have just been working on my YouTube videos this year and hopefully it is really inspiring as there are not many female parkour athletes showing off their training videos and blogs. I just want to travel in 2021 - go to Europe, Brazil and the USA!
You can find out if Hazal Nehir takes home a Taurus World Stunt Award by tuning in to the live show on November 21.