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These are the death-defying entertainers that laugh in the face of danger. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who do their own stunts.
For this list, we’re taking a look at actors and actresses that are known for performing many or most of the stunts in the films they star in. For the purpose of this list, professional stuntmen and women who perform stunts as their careers are not included.
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#10: Donnie Yen
Widely considered to be China’s current leading action star, this actor, director, and producer is an expert in numerous martial arts, including Taekwondo, Wing Chun, and Jiu-Jitsu. Beginning his career as a stuntman in action flicks like “Shaolin Drunkard,” the multi-talented performer and sometimes-choreographer branched out into leading roles, and has been nominated for multiple Taurus World Stunt Awards, winning for his role in Flash Point. Although he can also be seen in driving stunts, the majority of his stunts are performed during grueling and sometimes dangerous fight sequences.
#9: Angelina Jolie
We all know her for her humanitarian work and captivating screen roles, but few know her as the adrenaline-junkie that she is. Her viability as an action star and interest in doing her own stunts was first noted by the public in 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and since then, she has performed dangerous stunts that lesser actors would shy away from. Among these is her jump off a highway overpass onto a moving truck, her precarious walk along a ledge barely wide enough to hold her 12 stories up, and her leaning perilously out of a speeding car while shooting a rifle in films like Salt and Wanted.
#8: Daniel Craig
Unfortunately for this English hunk, being the new James Bond meant signing up for some pretty risky maneuvers—and this despite his fear of heights. Driving at breakneck speeds, fighting bad guys on rooftops, leaping onto a moving bus from 3 stories up, and jumping from backhoes onto moving trains is just some of the fun that this new 007 has taken on since accepting the iconic role. The actor is not as invincible as the super spy he plays on-screen, however; since starring as Bond, he has suffered lacerations, broken bones, and even a sliced-off fingertip.
#7: Matt Damon
Here is another actor who accepted the role of a character despite knowing that he would be required to do some pretty amazing stunts. While Matt Damon took on some challenging stunts for films like Courage Under Fire and Saving Private Ryan in the 1990s, it’s his stunt work as Jason Bourne in the 2000s’ “Bourne” series that has been most acclaimed. Though jumping off a bridge, crashing cars, and filming underwater without an oxygen mask were unnerving for the Oscar-winning actor, his willingness to do such hazardous scenes contributes to why he is one of today’s most bankable stars.
#6: Harrison Ford
This legendary A-list actor is well-known for his action-adventure roles throughout his career—and he’s nowhere near backing out of the stunts required to do them! Tasked with bringing characters to life, Ford has dangled from helicopters, jumped out of the way of oncoming trains, and generally proved that he’s not afraid to take a risk. In fact, during the filming ofIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Ford insisted on doing much of the physical acting and stunts in the film—despite the fact that he was over 65 at the time!
#5: Tony Jaa
With an extensive resume including his work as an actor, director, stuntman, martial artist, and even Buddhist monk, this Thai action legend became internationally renowned for his acting and stunt work starting with the 2003 hit Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. Showcasing stunts with no computer-generated or mechanical effects, the film revolved around Tony Jaa’s extremely quick, acrobatic movies and fight scenes, including a fight where his pants were on fire. Despite ligament injuries, burns, and sprained ankles, he hasn’t calmed down with his array of impressive feats, featuring many in the Ong-Bak sequels and in The Protector films.
#4: Buster Keaton
This is one of the quintessential all-American stunt pioneers. Known affectionately as The Great Stone Face, his performances in acclaimed silent films and physical comedies usually required some exciting yet dangerous exploits. Whether he was falling from a house, jumping onto a speeding car, or letting a 2000-pound façade of a building fall over him, he didn’t let nerves freak him out of getting a great shot. Though some of the stunts took a toll on his body, like when he broke his neck in a scene with a water tower, he performed stunts even into his 70s, with his final screen appearance being in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
#3: Tom Cruise
There are few things this daredevil actor has refused to do in his over 30 year career, and the fact that he’s over 50 hasn’t dampened his love of stunts one bit. In numerous interviews, Tom Cruise has noted that many of the stunts he does excite him rather than scare him. In his extensive film portfolio, he’s run down the side of the world’s tallest building, leapt barefoot out of a window, held onto the top of a speeding car, rode a motorcycle through a stampede of bulls, engaged in a swordfight on horseback, run from an exploding tank of sixteen tons of water, jumped off a skyscraper… need we say more?
#2: Jason Statham
Starting out as a diver, it didn’t take long for this muscular Brit to find his true calling. Displaying a fondness for the action genre, Statham has muscled his way in and out of dangerous situations in movies like The Transporter, Crank and Death Race. Showing an affinity for combat and automotive stunts, his willingness to perform such feats has brought him near to serious injuries and even death, his most dangerous being the time the brakes in the truck he was driving went out on the set of The Expendables 3, causing him to plummet 60 feet into the Black Sea.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Keanu Reeves
- Charlie Chaplin
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Viggo Mortensen
#1: Jackie Chan
Was there any doubt that this Hong Kong actor would top our list? The recipient of the Guinness World Record for “Most Stunts by a Living Actor,” no one else has come close to Jackie’s incredible repertoire in the stunts department. This Chinese martial artist has broken numerous bones in his body, had multiple surgeries, and has almost died countless times. He has done almost all of the stunts the previous actors on our list have done and added more to the mix, such as snowboarding off a mountain onto a helicopter and parachuting thousands of feet in the air onto the top of a hot air balloon. To be honest, we doubt Jackie is actually human.
Do you agree with our list? Which actors who do their own stunts are your favorite? For more incredible top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.