Monique Ganderton has been fighting and falling in films and TV for the past 15 years. As a stunt performer, she has been a stunt double for Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Cara Delvigne, Mandy Moore, and Sigourney Weaver. She was most recently named as Marvel’s first female stunt coordinator. Ganderton tells us how the action comes to life in movies. Following is a transcript of the video.
Monique Ganderton: I’ve been working for, you know, 15 years as a stunt performer on a variety of sets all over the world. Majority of the day is you’re fighting and falling.
“Atomic Blonde”…I am so proud of that movie. So, we had this stairwell scene, this fight, that in the script was she shoots two guys. But, you know, we were talking to Dave and we were like, “Hey, you know, what if we do this epic fight scene?” We actually went to the stairwell and we shot it how we would shoot it on set. So, we call this a previs, a stunt previs, and then we have Charlize go in and shoot the first section until it was good, sometimes 15 to 20 takes for each section, because it had to be perfect. They put me in when it was the – you know, throwing – getting thrown down the stairs, and getting thrown into the wall, and then back to Charlize’s section. I’m so proud of that sequence. I think we really accomplished something incredible.
She’s beautiful, but she is tough. She wants to be good. She wants to do everything. And she was there, all the time, in the gym with us, and you know, the Tom Cruises and the Angelina Jolies and Charlize and Keanu, like, they’re all very athletic and very talented. The problem is they can’t do all their own stunts because of liability, and, you know, you can’t – you just can’t do that.
I get excited, but I’m not nervous. I don’t fear the stunt. And I just go through the stunt in my mind. I make sure everything – all the rigging looks good. And then you just go, “OK, cool, call action.” Like, “I’m ready, let’s do this.”
So, I probably worked for 10 years without my family really knowing what I was doing. Now my mum works in film, though, so she sees everything. She once brought me my grenade launcher. That was pretty hilarious. Like, “Mum, I need my grenade launcher!”
My story is: I was modelling, and so, all the models were taking acting classes, and they were, you know, being extras on set to make extra money. And I saw this girl roll down some stairs, and shoot some guns, and beat up some dudes, and I was like, “I want to do that.”
You know, most of my training was in the park by myself, running and falling over and over and over again until it felt natural. I have probably fallen thousands of times.
Sometimes I am the only woman in the room. There’s definitely a lack of female leadership in our stunt industry. So, you know, you’re falling, but you’re falling in a skirt all the time. You know, I go into the costumes, and I go, “No skirts. We’re going to do pants now.” But I think it’s changing, and I was the first female stunt coordinator that Marvel has hired. As a stunt coordinator, you’re taking on the responsibility of designing all the action, the stunt action, making sure it’s as safe as possible, and then coming up with some really creative way to tell the story through action.
The riskiest stunt, I think, that I’ve done is in – we were shooting in Bulgaria, and I was driving a two-horse chariot at a full gallop. I had to jump from the chariot to the horse and it was just me in the chariot. That one got me going, like, “Whew, ok.” As soon as they call action, you just, you have to commit.
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