Not only is April Wright’s Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story a remarkable history of stuntwomen and doing stunts but an equally exciting behind the scenes look at the stunt world in general. I don’t think it’s a surprise that the rise of women to prominence in a male-dominated arena was a difficult road to go down, but their time has come, though the struggle continues.
The subject matter of Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story is pretty standard. Fast and the Furious actor Michelle Rodriguez hosts and narrates the film. There’s a series of talking-head interviews with various directors, including Anne Fletcher, Paul Verhoeven, and Paul Feig. There’s also a little docu-twist involving conversations between the current crop of stuntwomen talking with veterans discussing their struggles and how much has changed and not changed. The players include Jeannie Epper, Julie Ann Johnson, Jadie David, Donna Evans, Debbie Evans, Donna Keegan, Amy Johnston, Alyma Dorsey, Heidi Moneymaker, Keisha Tucker, Jessie Graff, Cheryl Lewis, Jennifer Caputo, Kelly Roisin, and Deven McNair. You may not know their names, but you absolutely know their work.
“…the current crop of stuntwomen talking with veterans discussing their struggles and how much has changed and not changed.”
The doc first goes into the history of stuntwomen originating back to the start of film itself. It was a new medium. It didn’t make money, and women surprisingly came out in force to pioneer the art form by creating production studios, writing, starring, directing, and of course, doing their own stunts. As these films began making money (and lots of it), men took over, and women in all categories were pushed to the side for several decades.
In the 70s, women began to take center stage as leads in film—most notably, Pam Grier. Unwilling to take women seriously, men would don wigs and do stunts posing as women. A small group of women stepped up and became the new pioneers of the profession.
"…when it comes to fighting, falling, and driving, the differences are small, and it’s merely a matter of adapting."