A stuntman has to have a lot of different skill sets. Jean Charles, the French stuntman, knows this and that’s why he is constantly improving the skills he has and adding more. He has been doing stunts for over twenty years and he is proficient in Judo, American Kenpo, Wing Chun and French boxing if he needs to defeat any kind of villain in a movie or TV show. Jean Charles also keeps in shape by rope climbing, BMX bike riding, snowboarding and wakeboarding. All these sports, including the ones mentioned above enhance his speed and reaction time and keep him physically fit and mentally alert.
Stuntmen must be alert and they must be aware of their surroundings. If you are ever on a movie set or watch a behind the scenes show on TV you’ll notice that the stuntman will always take his time to walk through the upcoming stunt very slowly and deliberately. He will consult with the director and point out where he will take a fall or throw a kick or a punch and how long it will take him to reach the large cushion on the street when he leaps from a four-story building. It’s all timing he will tell the director and the cameraman.
Jean Charles is a choreographer in a sense because he choreographs his stunts the way a dancer arranges the steps in a dance. He sees the intended result before he even sets foot on to the sound stage or shooting location. He sees it in his mind and then he rehearses the stunt in slowly and thoughtfully. The timing is all important, because he doesn’t want to get punched by someone and he doesn’t want to hit someone else and hurt them. Since movie making is truly an illusion, the stunts are also like a magic act. No one is supposed to get hurt and the punches and other physical contact should come as close to the skin as possible without actually hurting the other person.
Accidents happen though. Stunt work can be dangerous and people can get hurt and that’s why Jean Charles is so insistent on rehearsing stunts until everyone involved knows exactly what to do and when. Once that happens then the stunt is ready to go and he knows that the timing is right and the director can say the magic word: “Action!”