Falling through a ceiling while sitting on a potty is part of the job for some.
Swellendam-born stunt performer Fleur van Eeden, 28, will tick that off her list next week when she works on the film Date Night.
“I fight and do horse-riding stunts. I fly through the air. I fall from buildings higher than five stories. I’ve done two full body burns and I’m still alive.”
Flinging her body through thin air seems to be her specialty, as Van Eeden sinks to gravity in the film Dredd, now playing at cinemas countrywide.
“I doubled for (Dredd lead actress) Olivia Thirlby. When I was on the set, the director decided that I should double for the bad Ma-Ma (played by actress Lena Headey).
“I was also five different characters. We did all the motorbike riding. I had to fall through glass too (as Headey’s body double).”
While Van Eeden bears no resemblance to a Jean-Claude van Damme action type – she’s 1.68m tall and is “not butch” – she regularly works on Hollywood action films.
“I still live in Swellendam, but go wherever work takes me. Most of the films I’ve worked on recently have been filmed in Cape Town.
“This year I’ve travelled to Namibia to work on the film Mad Max, with (actors) Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy.
“It was amazing to meet Charlize. We did a lot of training together for a big fight scene.
“She’s an amazing lady and so proud to be South African. She’s very Afrikaans. We talked in Afrikaans and she speaks Benoni Afrikaans. That’s very Afrikaans.”
Van Eeden has worked as a stunt performer since 2004, but is not yet desensitised to fear when she needs to plunge into daring situations. Fear pushes her to perform better.
“To be scared is always a good thing. You need that adrenalin before a stunt. But you can’t let fear overpower you.
“The day when you don’t feel frightened anymore, it’s time to get out (of the stunt business).
“You need adrenalin and some fear to do a good job. It helps to do things in way that is safer. The main thing is that you trust your body.”
Van Eeden was out mountain biking when the Cape Times interviewed her yesterday. She says she would not try any of her film stunts in real time.
“My friends always ask me why I’m scared of doing stunts when we go bike riding. That’s when I’m really safe. You have to always protect yourself, because if you break a wrist you’d be out of action.”
Van Eeden says that while stunt performance has a certain shelf life, she hopes that her body can carry her for a long time. She studied public relations but shunned an office poppie job when she met a stunt company owner.
“It just happened. I’ve always been a sporty person. I did a lot of running, mountain biking and hockey. I guess this (stunt performance) is like any sport.”
“I also represented South Africa at the tug-of-war world champs. I got my South African colours for that sport.”