Just because the characters are fictional, that doesn’t mean Hollywood’s leading action star ladies aren’t actually kicking some major ass in their films.
Whether it’s months of training for a specific scene or years of training that led to the ultimate role, action actresses in Hollywood are putting in the work to make their films come alive on screen.
Trust me, you can’t possibly watch these ladies pulling out their moves and not feel inspired. Sign me up for the closest Krav Maga class, because stunt work is the new sexy in Hollywood. And as someone who’s actually taken a Krav Maga class before, let me tell you, it is absolutely not as easy as they make it look.
1. Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde
Atomic Blonde stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave told The Hollywood Reporter, “Charlize did 98 percent of her own action, including fighting, running and those kinds of things. When it comes where she has to fall down stairs or swing from a height — that she can’t do insurance-wise.” But the rest was all Theron.
2. Angelina Jolie in Salt
Jolie opted out of having a stunt double for her 2010 film Salt and did all the action scenes on her own.
3. Cameron Diaz in Knight and Day
Tom Cruise notoriously does his own stunts in his films, and when Diaz starred alongside him in Knight and Day, she followed suit. She even did some stunt driving for the film. In an interview with The Mirror, Diaz reportedly said she was covered with bruises while filming.
4. Gina Carano in Haywire
Carano wasn’t originally an actress, but she was picked for her role in 2012’s Haywire specifically because of her MMA fighter training.
5. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence didn’t just learn to use a bow and arrow for The Hunger Games franchise. She also jumped from trees and ran around fires. Though she did have a stunt double for those moments that were too extreme, Lawrence was right there in the heart of the action, too.
6. Kristen Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman
Stewart did her own stunts during the battle scenes in Snow White and the Huntsman. She explained in an interview with Hollywood Life, “[Director] Rupert [Sanders] beat me up. He definitely threw me off cliffs and made me trudge through frigid, icy waters. It looks so cool, though. I can actually see the pain and discomfort on my face. It’s awesome.”
7. Mariska Hargitay in Law & Order SVU
Hargitay does her own stunts for Law & Order: SVU and even suffered a partially collapsed lung in 2009 from a stunt fall gone wrong. Luckily, she recovered fully and reported back to set just a few weeks later.
8. Naomie Harris in Skyfall
Harris had three months of extensive training in shooting, combat fighting and stunt driving to prepare for her role as a Bond Girl, according to Shape. Stunt coordinator Gary Powell also told the outlet that the craziest stunt Harris had to perform was the driving. “She has to drive alongside the camera, keeping her mark and moving very fast.”
9. Scarlett Johansson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Johansson made it clear in an interview with The Daily Mail that she did most of her own stunts for the Marvel film. “Please don’t think I’m stupid, though. I know my limitations. When Natasha, my character, has to bound 20 feet in the air and do four cartwheels, it’s my stunt double Heidi Moneymaker who’s doing that. But that woman hanging 60 feet in the air, taking punches and throwing punches? Well, that’s me.”
10. Zoe Bell in Death Proof
Bell was a stuntwoman for years, stepping in for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess before finally landing her own role in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof.
11. Chloë Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass
At just 11 years old, Moretz was already taking her action star role to another level by doing her own stunts. She trained with Jackie Chan’s stunt team to prepare for the role and did everything except the wall climbing scene, according to Huffington Post.