We hear lots of things about lots of celebs. We hear about their antics and their diva-like behavior. We gossip about their tantrums and their public breakdowns. Tabloids keep us updated about their tiffs and trials. Rarely, though, do we hear about their professionalism and the sheer sincerity they bring to their roles and characters. It isn’t easy, facing the camera and letting their emotions and weaknesses show. It isn’t easy letting the world be privy to their deepest and innermost personality traits that resonate with the characters they are playing.
It also must not be easy to be judged for being authentic by the audience. But, as all great showman say, the show must go on. And on it goes, with actors giving their very best to each character they play. To make it as real as they can for the audience, actors try and infuse reality in their roles. Some go as far as starving or gorging themselves to alter their weight, and some literally get bruised up for action roles.
And then there are those who refuse stunt doubles and prefer to do their own action sequences, be it swinging down vines or driving their own cars. Let’s stick to the latter as we list out 20 celebs who eschewed stunt doubles and stayed behind the wheel as the cameras rolled, all to make the movies as real as they could for their fans.
20 Keanu Reeves
He’s one of the most sought after sci-fi stars in tinsel town and is a pro when it comes to performing action sequences. In fact, he considers it one of the best things about his line of work. He’s always ready to drive his onscreen vehicles himself and that, too, with absolute perfection. His work in the blockbuster action thriller Speed was a turning point in his Hollywood career. Speed and then the Matrix films turned him into a star and since then, he has gradually evolved as a method actor. He did his own driving stunts in the John Wick movies and is also known as an avid car and motorcycle collector in his personal life.
19 Daniel Craig
James Bond is definitely the most famous spy in the history of cinema to date. Of course, being one of the world’s most unrelenting secret agents in reel life is not a piece of cake. Even though Bond has been played by many great actors over the years, Daniel Craig undoubtedly is a hot favorite. His love for all things action seems to make him the best Bond yet. He loves to be behind the wheel and performs most of the action acts on his own. In fact, he enjoyed racing sports cars so much in his Bond avatar, he decided to do all the driving himself. That's probably why he looked absolutely at home all through the filming even when the cars were racing at supersonic speeds.
18 Paul Walker
He was the soul of the Fast and Furious film franchise. His fans adored him for his onscreen persona and off-screen etiquette. A lot of the driving stunts in these flicks were exceptionally tough to work through and only a skilled stuntman could be trusted to carry out the job perfectly. However, some of the really good ones were executed by Paul himself, as he was passionate about fast cars. He had his own exceptional garage and was more than capable of handling these mean machines. According to The Sun, he owned a fleet of 30 incredible cars before the world lost him in 2013.
17 Mark Wahlberg
He has been the focal point of the Michael Bay action saga ever since he joined the Transformer franchise. In 2014, he embarked on this adventurous reel-life journey with a role in Transformers: Age of Extinction. With a massive net worth of $225 million and a commanding pay slip of $17 million per flick, he is touted as one of the best in the action movie business. He is a doting father of four adorable kids and is nearing 48 but still loves to perform his intense action sequences all by himself—especially the ones that require his driving expertise. That’s what he loves about this profession and that’s why we love him back.
16 Sylvester Stallone
He’s one of the toughest guys in the movie business and has come a long way since his debut in the movie The Italian Stallion in 1970. Sly enjoys doing action scenes all by himself—even today. He may well be into his seventies but he’s still full of life as a real action hero. He did try his luck with a handful of romantic comedies but his action-packed movies were the ones that have made him a living legend today. He may have a dexterous team of stunt drivers by his side but he loves to pull through a lot of the driving stunts on his own.
15 Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan is a one-man film industry all by himself. A big part of this is his penchant of doing his own stunts. Undoubtedly, he’s one of the most outstanding action-comedy heroes of all time. He’s a living legend and his contribution to the world of cinema is unmistakable. All of us know that he does his own stunts and that he has his own stunt team known as the Jackie Chan Stunt Team. The idea was to keep doing his own stunts safely and disburse his legacy to anyone who wanted to learn. While he is best known for his martial arts prowess, Chan also drives himself in most of his movies, including the Rush Hour franchise.
14 Scarlett Johansson
According to The Daily Mail, this Hollywood diva does most of her action sequences on her own and is quite vocal about it, too. She mentioned in an interview that most of the action stars do not give justice to the role when they leave it all to the stunt experts. She further added that she enjoys doing some of the stunts all by herself and that’s the best way to get into the depth of the character. This accomplished actress, of Black Widow fame, was thrilled to be driving around during the entire shoot of the Avengers franchise in the best of the cars. Off-screen, she loves to be behind the wheel and as we know, is capable of outdriving the paps as well.
13 Jason Statham
He is a mega action star of the big screen and is known for his extra-large persona in the Hollywood industry. This heavy-duty action hero is a phenomenon in his own unique way. His Hollywood roles had humble beginnings until he rose to fame with a pivotal role in the action flick The Transporter. He became more popular for the fact that he handled his action duties himself in the movie and that’s his trademark in Hollywood. His rugged looks and a rather distinguished accent are another plus-plus for him. He is an ardent car fella too who never misses an opportunity to do a driving stunt on his own. Frankly, when it's an Audi R8, who would?
12 Matt Damon
According to Forbes, he’s is one actor who never gives a flop. All his investors can rely on him because his movies always gross substantial revenues. While we're on the subject, he is dubbed as one of the highest-grossing actors of all time. In the movie Good Will Hunting, he was flawless and people were fascinated by his powerful performance. The movie earned him an Academy Award in the Best Original Screenplay category, which he shared with his best buddy, Ben Affleck. Switching from a lost college boy to the all capable Jason Bourne seemed like quite the transition but Damon made it look effortless. He carried out the intense action scenes all by himself, including the daredevil driving and riding stunts that are a part of all the Bourne films.
11 Zoë Bell
She’s known for some of the most memorable and legendary stunt scenes that the movie has industry ever seen. Her reality-defying driving acts in the movie Death Proof are something that will remain close to the hearts of action movie fans forever. She got the role in Death Proof because she managed to completely impress Quentin Tarantino when she was a stunt double for Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies. She was dubbed as the bravest prima donna in tinsel town after this. Driving her own scenes was merely a piece of cake for this woman who could do just about anything in just about any movie.
10 Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel has a ball while shooting all of his action flicks. There is always a capable team of stuntmen around him when he’s shooting risky action scenes but he prefers to perform most of them himself. Why? Because he knows he's capable of doing it all by himself—and effortlessly. He saves the final execution for himself in most of these action sequences especially the ones that involve driving a sports car. That’s his MO, which made it obvious that he would carry out most of his stunt driving duties in the Fast and Furious franchise and xXx on his own.
9 Harrison Ford
He’s getting older and he’s getting stronger. From his Han Solo innings to the Indiana Jones films, he’s known for performing action scenes without the help of any stunt doubles or specialists. For Harrison Ford, it was crucial to hang from helicopters and crash big cars into buses in the popular the Indiana Jones action-adventure franchise. These acts needed a lot of physical activity and Ford came out with flying colors here. He did it all with no trouble. According to Anything Hollywood, he trained himself for the job to avoid injuries and he thoroughly enjoyed doing all his driving stunts by himself.
8 Steve McQueen
He’s known for his memorable movies and evergreen onscreen presence. He has given some of the most unforgettable performances to the world of cinema. His iconic movie, The Great Escape, has the most famous motorcycle stunts of all time. In this movie, he did almost all of the car and motorcycle stunts on his own. He loved driving stunts and was exceptional at doing it. In fact, in one of the scenes of the cult classic movie, Bullitt, he played the role of a stunt double too. Later, the scene turned into McQueen chasing down McQueen as he could easily outrun the other bad guys.
7 Tom Cruise
This Hollywood stalwart is a household name today. With a massive fee per film, he is a powerful figure in the movie business and has been for almost three decades now. He’s one of the most sought-after action superstars of today and has a substantial net worth of $570 million. However, it’s not just his million-dollar face and acting abilities that he is best known for. His remarkable fitness and ability to carry out his own stunts with perfection are his assets. He does have experts with him and works in tandem with them but he prefers to do most of the stunts himself, especially those involving driving a sports car or a sports bike. He is also an avid car and bike collector on his personal time.
6 Cameron Diaz
She’s been the rom-com queen of the silver screen since the beginning of her career. Her goofy grin and that killer bod together make for an unmistakable combination of beauty, with a sense of humor. However, soon she forayed into the world of action cinema with the Charlie's Angels franchise, along with Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. Not many of us know that she prefers to do most of the stunt work herself, unlike Barrymore. She is one action-oriented star who outclassed every other silver-screen diva in the movie business by being a fearless driver onscreen. She relishes spinning cars in the action flicks, which is clear by that characteristic grin on her face.
5 Angelina Jolie
She’s given a number of blockbuster movies to the cinema world and if it's Jolie, it means she gave her best. Many of her movies have won international laurels. Her performances in movies like Gone in 60 Seconds, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Salt, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Maleficent carved a niche for her in an industry that now craved the Jolie flavor. After Lara Croft, she became even more popular as she chose to execute most of her stunt jobs herself. And she did most of them with perfection. According to IndieWire, the car chase scene in the flick Wanted was one of the twelve best car stunts of all time. More importantly, it was this strong dame who was behind the wheel for most of the time.
4 Viggo Mortensen
This versatile personality made his screen debut in 1985 with Peter Weir’s Witness. He’s an actor, an author, a photographer, a poet, and a painter who is known primarily for his well-rounded performances on the silver screen. In the fantasy adventure-film series, The Lord of the Rings, there are plenty of intense battle and sword-swinging acts. Viggo Mortensen played one of the main protagonists in the film series and actually performed his own stunt work. That’s the kind of actor he is. Nothing dampens his enthusiasm. He’s always game for any kind of stunts especially the ones that feature driving a fast car—or a bike. Or, really, a fast anything.
3 Ryan Gosling
Famous Hollywood stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott once mentioned in an interview that Ryan Gosling can actually drive like a stuntman, flawlessly and fearlessly. This came after his fantastic performance in the movie Drive, wherein he did most of the daring action sequences himself without any hesitation. He loved to drive on his own for all the chase scenes in the flick. He did miss a few of them because hectic shooting schedules didn’t allow him to be at two places at once, since his dialogue scenes were underway. However, Gosling, who’s also an avid sports bike fan, loves to perform his riding and driving duties himself on the silver screen.
2 Burt Reynolds
Reynolds did it when no one even dared to think of it. Back in that era, he was known for being an actor who loved to perform all the daring action scenes all by himself. This was the time when the leading men of the cinema world seldom did their own stunts because it didn’t really matter. Almost all of them had a team of stuntmen around them to do the job and their heroism was truly fictional. However, Burt was one of the very few A-list actors who were tough enough to pull off even the toughest stunts. From driving fast cars in the movie Smokey and the Bandit to the diving scene in The Longest Yard, Reynolds has been a phenomenal performer.
1 Charlize Theron
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sam Hargrave, stunt coordinator for the action flick Atomic Blonde, stated in an interview that Charlize Theron did 98 percent of the stunt work in the movie on her own. It was 98 percent because the other 2 percent was not being covered by the insurance guys, so they had to call in a stunt double. The action scenes included hand-to-hand, running, and, of course, driving. She lovingly raced around in Soviet-era cars in the movie and that's a big thing considering these were not the cars known for reliability. But after Monster, we are convinced that Theron is capable of just about anything and everything.
Sources: The Sun, The Daily Mail, Forbes, Anything Hollywood, Indie Wire, and The Hollywood Reporter