Wollongong's Jake Bennett swapped mines for movies as a stuntman

MOVIE MAN: Stunt double, rigger and safety assistant Jake Bennett - above with Samuel Johnson on the set of Eden. Picture: Supplied
MOVIE MAN: Stunt double, rigger and safety assistant Jake Bennett - above with Samuel Johnson on the set of Eden. Picture: Supplied

When Jake Bennett finished high school in Wollongong he didn't know what he wanted to do so took a job in a coal mine, but now he's rubbing shoulders with movie stars like the Hemsworths and Russell Crowe.

In recent years, the 32-year-old realised he could actually make a career from his extreme hobbies like motorbike racing, martial arts and freestyle BMX riding so ditched the mines for movies.

The stunt double's latest projects include Crowe's new action thriller Pokerface (which was filmed in Kiama) and Marvel's new Thor: Love and Thunder.

"Me and my brother raced motorcycles competitively, my mum was a gymnastics coach, my sister was a gymnast and aerial skier," he said. "We kind of grew up doing everything like motocross, go-karts, mountain-biking, all that sort of stuff. I already had a great base for stunts without knowing that stunts was a career path."

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It wasn't until a motorcycling friend Cody Mackey scored a job on Mad Max: Fury Road, that Bennett decided to try his luck.

"The public don't know a whole lot about the stunt industry given that we are rarely in the spotlight and don't receive any major awards," Bennett said. "It's not a job many people gravitate towards but it's so much fun."

Feats like motocross tricks, rally car driving, being thrown off cliffs, punched across a table or set on fire are all in a day's work for Bennett though there is a lot of safety practices behind the scenes.

"A lot of it is very controlled," he said. "When you're doing big stunts [like jump off a cliff] you normally have a rigging and safety team with you and that's when the movie magic comes into it with wires and rigging points ... that sort of stuff gets painted out in post production."

However, the reason most actors don't like doing stunts themselves is because they're more prone to accidents as putting themselves through extreme activities isn't a daily occurrence.

"If we're not working we're training and that's an everyday thing," Bennett said. "My partner [who is also a stunt double] and I do Muay Thai, we also do regular boxing and we also do stunt based work which we run through every day."

They also both have motocross bikes and practice vehicle manoeuvres at a farm in Picton.


MOVIE MAN: Stunt double, rigger and safety assistant Jake Bennett. Picture: Supplied

MOVIE MAN: Stunt double, rigger and safety assistant Jake Bennett. Picture: Supplied

To be a stunt performer in Australia you have to be "graded" through the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance and be competent in body control, heights, using vehicles, working with animals and fire - as well as going through training with a stunt co-ordinator, Bennett said.

When he first told his parents about his career change they were initially a little concerned because he was giving up a stable job, but came around after seeing how happy it him.

"I did have to sit mum and dad down and be like 'we're not cowboys setting ourselves on fire, it's all very controlled'," he said.

Australia's film industry may be on hold at present after booming in 2020 with overseas productions, but Bennett said the work will start kicking off again when restrictions lift.

And if his body eventually gets too tired, he said there's plenty of other roles in the stunt world to keep him employed for a very long time.


This story Miner switched careers to being a stunt double first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.