Stacy Marcus Carino ’98 is one extreme alumna. Carino, a teacher turned stuntwoman, has appeared in blockbusters like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Transformers (2007) and has served as a stunt double for actresses like Megan Fox and Keira Knightly.
How did you get into this profession?
I was a fifth-grade teacher and had summers off, so I wanted to take the summer of 1999 to learn how to rock climb. I searched for a rock-climbing school and came across a stunt school in Seattle. It looked really fun, so I decided to go. I had a great time doing fireburns, stairfalls, rock climbing, horsefalls, movie fighting and sliding cars. I also realized that I was pretty good at it. I left wanting to pursue a career in stunts, and in 2002 I moved to California.
What’s a typical day like?
Every work day is different but include the same basics. When I arrive on the set of a TV show or movie, I check in and grab breakfast. I then go to my honeywagon, a tiny room in a trailer, and put on my wardrobe that has been set in my room, then head out to the hair and makeup trailer.
After the hair and makeup artists have made me look as close to the actress I am doubling as they can, I go back to my honeywagon and put all the stunt pads on that I need to wear. The basics are elbow and kneepads, hip and tailbone pads, and often a gatorback (a back pad). I then head to set and see if the stunt coordinator, my boss, needs help carrying pads or training an actor to fight or fall or take a punch. At this point it usually is a waiting game until the scene is ready to be shot. Depending on what I am hired to do dictates how busy I will be during the day. For example, if I have to do a 60-second fight, I will be actively working all day rehearsing and tweaking choreography until we shoot it on camera, but if I just have to fall down stairs I may only be working two hours or so but have to be on set the entire day. After the scene I am in is shot, I am usually wrapped to go home. On average, I work 11- to 12-hour days.
What did you learn at Ursuline that has helped you in your career?
I learned how to work hard to achieve goals I set for myself as well as communication skills that help me develop and keep relationships with coworkers and bosses. Ursuline is different than bigger colleges in that professors notice if you walk in late so I was always on time to my classes. The TV and film business doesn’t excuse tardiness. If I show up even five minutes late to a job, I know that my boss will most likely never hire me again.
What’s the best part of your job?
Since every day is different I never get bored with the job I have to do. I love the challenge of a new day and new choreography of a fight or having to slide a car with much precision. One big perk of being in the entertainment business is that I get to travel to many cities I have never been since shows are shot in lots of different locations. Another thing I love is that I am 37 years old and still get to do gymnastics and martial arts. Staying fit is a huge perk (and requirement) of the business.
Did you ever imagine that you would be doing this kind of work?
I honestly didn’t even know that I could have a career in stunts until I went to stunt school in Seattle. I loved the movie Hooper with Burt Reynolds, but never thought I could be a stuntwoman. I remember watching Romancing the Stone and wishing I could be the woman who had to slide down that mudslide.
Ironically, Jeannie Epper, who is now my mentor, did that. After I went to stunt school I had hopes to do stunts one day, but never in a million years did I think I could make a living out of it.