FEATURE ARTICLES

FALL GUY

An Interview with Stargate's Stunt Coordinator and Sergeant Siler, Dan Shea


Dan Shea He's the guy with the big wrench, the one who seems to be able to fix whatever needs fixing around the SGC. But for most of his time on screen you never see his face. As the stunt coordinator for Stargate SG-1, and the stunt double for Richard Dean Anderson, Dan Shea spends much of his on-screen time being anonymous - getting blown up, and falling down.

The stunt team on Stargate is a department of one. It falls to Dan Shea to choreograph the stunts, to make decisions regarding safety, to organize doubles and transport equipment, and to coordinate with all the other departments that need to be in synch with the stunt decisions. It begins with decisions made during the week of prep meetings, but experience dictates that the best policy is simply to be prepared for anything.

"You always try and get the director to answer all these questions a week before they have any clue what the answer is," Shea admits. "So he just tries to give you pretend sort of answers until he figures out what he's really doing. But you also know what the parameters are. Heck, as a stunt coordinator, I know I'm going to haul my pads there, for them to fall on, I'm going to have my fire retardant gel." Even if a scene doesn't call for fire, he knows that flashes of inspiration can occur at any time, and it's better to be ready for any eventuality. For example, he goes on, "Say there's no fire in that shot. But I'm going to have the gel there anyway because, wouldn't it be cool if we had some? Yes it would be. Well, there's a person standing there and you can't have him there if it's not safe. Well, gel him down. Where's the gel? Oh I left it back at the shop, because you guys said we weren't going to use it." That will never do on a production the size of Stargate. "No, I bring everything, no matter what. And even doubles, they said we won't need doubles. Well, I will have a guy standing on guard just in case that changes. You're always on guard for changes all the time."

Earlier in the day, Shea had been on set as Senator Kinsey was being assassinated for the episode Smoke & Mirrors, a perfect case in point of stunts changing minute by minute. "Even today, for example, we were shooting Ronny Cox. Originally the shot was, he was being assassinated, and you were going to see the ground so I couldn't bring pads. So then I had to bring knee pads and stuff to put underneath his wardrobe. But then when we got there, the way the shot was designed, and the way the limo was sitting, we didn't see the ground, so I could have had pads. So it's a good thing I brought them over this morning. But then what he wound up doing was actually just falling into the limo, onto the seats. We didn't need pads anyway. So, there are three steps: (a) No, we don't want them, (b) Do you have them, and (c) Well, he doesn't need them anyway. The actor himself decided he would fall on the seat of the car, but if I didn't have the pads there, it would have been awful. So you always have to have everything covered, even when you prep it ten thousand times. You never want to get caught with your pants down when they say well, you've got the pads here, right? You never want to say, 'no because you said we didn't need them.' That would be bad, because you're making the director look bad. So you try and make a joke of it, or say, 'Well, define "here," exactly. A teamster can get it within an hour if you want it.' But you don't want to do that, so everything has to be there."

"Then you have to coordinate with the teamsters," he continues, explaining how a department of one manages to get all the equipment where it needs to be. "I don't bring all the pads. A porter picks the stuff up. I will go down and load everything. In fact I had four people helping me today carrying it up the steps. They're stashed behind General Hammond's office, and it's a real pain, you've got to carry them down a flight. You have all the bags of knee pads, and back pads, and hip pads, and then your fire retardant gel, and then you have these nine inch pads. Next Monday we're blowing up a house, and we have Amanda and some other actor jumping off a lawn onto some pads," he goes on, referring to a special situation that calls for extra pads to be taken to location. "Those pads are like three feet high. I'll have to set them out on Friday, and then the teamsters will load them in a truck and they'll take them there. Then you have to coordinate with Locations. So as soon as they get there, where are we going to put the pads? Then if it's raining, you've got to bring your tarp to put over top of the pads. On this location, it's going to be a residential area, so can we put it in the lunch tent, in case we have to leave it overnight if it rains? But then if it's in the lunch tent, people can't eat their lunches, so you've got to pull them out of there for lunch and find a place to put them. Then when you're done shooting, you have to contact the teamsters again to get these pads out of here, because you can't leave the pads sitting there because they're in the way. So every time you do something, you have to coordinate with four or five different departments, to get the stuff there, and to hide it, and to protect it, and to stash it, and then to get it out of there."

In addition, the Wardrobe, Hair, and Make-Up departments must also be alerted, especially when stunts involve doubles. As if on cue, a member of the wardrobe department peeks in the room to finalize details for a scene that will be shot the following day. Scene 44 at the hospital calls for generic medical personnel involved in a stunt, and Dan Shea will fill the role. "So you're not Siler? You're supposed to be in a lab coat? Are you a doctor?" Wardrobe wants to know. "No, I'm the MD chump over the shoulder," Shea clarifies. "So we have to dress you as an MD scientist chump?" comes the answer. "'Have to' is such a strong word," Shea jokes back. "Mr. DeLuise would request that we would, if that's okay," he grins. "We would love to!" smiles Wardrobe, returning to her office to arrange for the necessary costume to be in place before tomorrow.

Dan Shea is the stunt double for Richard Dean Anderson, but he is also frequently called upon to do smaller stunt parts, such as the "MD scientist chump," in addition to overseeing the stunts being performed by others. This requires him to be on set to coordinate the episode currently in production, while simultaneously doing the preparation work for the episode to follow. "Ordinarily you're prepping one and shooting the other, so you have an overlap of two," he explains. This week, the episode Smoke & Mirrors is in production, but the concept meeting for Paradise Lost has just concluded, and preparation for that episode is already underway. "You get a prep schedule, and I know that tomorrow I have a stunt meeting later on in the day at 4:00 that I can't make, because we're shooting DeLuise's episode, and I have to do a stunt. But I've already talked to the 1st AD saying I can't make it, and that's the reason we made a point during this meeting to distinguish what are stunts and what doubles we need and what we don't. So now I know exactly when we need the doubles, so I can make my budget exact, and then he can make his schedule exact."

All the prep work must be done in between shooting the current episode, and coordinated with all the other departments that are affected. For example, he points out, the concept meeting had addressed the scene in which O'Neill runs through a forest and a stream, keeping options open for Richard Dean Anderson to do the scene, but to have doubles available if necessary. "And then we made a distinction between photo double and stunt double. We're going to use Bill Nikolai, which is Rick's stand-in, to run and do that, because John Smith, the producer, said it's not a stunt. But we do have to have someone there in wardrobe, so then Wardrobe has to know that. If we're having a photo double and a stunt double, then Christina, head of Wardrobe, has to know that you need O'Neill's stuff that he's wearing, then you need a photo double, and then you need a stunt double, so you need three uniforms there. Everyone has to know this stuff. And then Hair has to know that there could be a photo double and a stunt double, so they have to schedule time to have Vern [Bill] in one chair, and I come in, so we both have to do our hair. So Wardrobe has to know, and Hair, and Make-Up, and then the ADs have to know so that they can bring in another stand-in to stand in for Bill if he's off running through the bush being a photo double. Every time anyone opens their mouth, every department has to know. So whenever I hear something, I just go to every single department and I tell them, so there's no question. And I write it down, too. Sometimes I'll write down even sizes of people. There's a guy working tomorrow, Brett Chan. He's got big muscles, and so I wrote down his measurements, and I put it on Wardrobe's desk, so that they have a clue of the size of him. Because they could have assumed that oh, it's an SF, we've got ten thousand SF's uniforms on the truck, we won't worry about it. But usually SFs aren't muscular. Peter DeLuise likes all these guys to be big muscle guys. And of course now he's coming in to be fitted today. Usually actors and stunt guys they'll bring in and specifically size them, but sometimes if it's a Jaffa or SF where they have a million costumes, they don't bother. But this guy is 5'8", 210 pounds, he's so distinct, if you didn't tell them the sizes, he may show up on the day and it wouldn't fit. So, every single department I tell everything, all the time, individually."

Each episode is a massive collaboration of resources and budget and time. Every department has a vision of the final product, but reality dictates compromises. Shea smiles by way of example. "There's an old thing that I read in Premiere magazine that had a producer's view of a scene, a writer's view of a scene, and another view of a scene, and it totally changed. The writer had this grandiose big thing going on, and the producer just had it in one room with a table and a chair, and the stunt version was that there are things exploding, and motorcycles going off cliffs. Each person, each department, has their own view of how it goes. The director will have an idea, and he'll say, well, is it safe to do that? Well, it is safe, but it'll be more expensive. So then the producer will say, well, that's too expensive, so then it gets whittled down. Then of course Wardrobe has to dress them. Well, they only have 20 costumes, so the writer may have a grandiose thing of 50 or 100 people, and that's great, but there are only 20 costumes. Actually, what they do then is they have these split screen things, so where they've needed a hundred Jaffa coming over the ridge, they would hire 8 Jaffa, and they would duplicate them five, six, seven, eight times. Visual Effects says, well, we've spent all our money doing this so we can't do that. And then Special Effects says, well, we can do that but we can't have it built 'til Friday. And then Locations will say, well, we can't do that there because we can't get the permit to shoot there. I'm exaggerating by a long shot," he laughs, and then refers to the joking references during the concept meeting to save the big effects for the feature film. "You heard them joking about how we're going to do it all on the big feature. When we have tons of time, and tons of money, sure, we can do whatever we want. But in reality, we're shooting this Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday, and then Friday we're doing the next one. It's just reality, you know? It's funny how they make it work, and how it looks so cool after it's all done."

In the case of stunts, safety is always the first priority. In weighing the director's vision, the restrictions of the budget, and the personal abilities and preferences of the actors, the stunt coordinator always has the final say. "A director will want to see the actor doing it, and the director sometimes assumes that the actor will want to be heroic and do it, so we want to see their face. But then I have to say, is it safe that they do that? We can just jerk them out of shot. Does that mean we're going to put a jerk harness on Rick and pull him and snap his neck? No, we're not going to do that. It happens all the time that you have the guys that want to do it, and then you have the guys that don't want to do it, and ultimately it becomes my call to say whether you can or you cannot do it. The thing is, you know all these guys, too. You've been with them for twelve and a half hours a day, ten months a year for six years. It's hard to say no, you shouldn't do that. But you have to say it. You have to make difficult decisions.

"With Rick for example, obviously it's his knees that are a little bit wonky. He always wants to do his stuff, but sometimes you have to say no, you can't do that. So if the director still wants him, and if Rick still wants to do it, they have to change the shot. Maybe he'll dive out of shot onto a pad, as opposed to just jumping onto some rocks and stuff. They'll just change how they shoot it. For example, this one scene with Rick had 'O'Neill dives for his life.' So you could have a wide shot of a stunt double actually diving and rolling, or you could have a tight shot on Rick exiting camera onto a pad or rolling onto softer ground or something. Then it said, 'Boom, a grenade goes off nearby.' Well you can tie in a human being to the grenade blowing up, but you would need a double. Or you would just have a separate shot of the hut blowing up and then just have a separate shot of the actor. He's not beside it, so therefore it can actually be the actor. Or, you can have a split screen of the thing blowing up and the real Richard Dean or whoever's face right there, and that's totally safe. So there's a million ways you can do it, but it just depends on what the director, when he hears all this input, decides what to do.

"Safety is always the stunt coordinator's call, definitely. And it doesn't become that difficult because everyone knows each other's jobs pretty well. So a director will know we're not going to have Richard Dean Anderson, the star of the show and executive producer, jumping off that thing. I mean, we sort of have an idea of what people can do and what people want to do. And a lot of times, too, in the beginning they all want to do everything, but in the end they don't want to do as much. It's like they've done this a million times, they've broken everything already, so that's why they'll double me, or change it so that I can do it. I remember on Street Justice listening to Carl Weathers. He's a big muscular guy, he works out all the time, and he said he wouldn't even jump off a chair anymore onto the ground, because if you wear boots you can break your ankle. And I've seen how people have broken Achilles tendons from just doing this stuff. We had a guy, an extra, who was running a month ago, he jumped over the dolly track which was an inch off the ground, and he snapped his Achilles tendon. It was just a fluke. You don't want it to happen to anybody, but you certainly can't have that happening to the stars. So it's a subjective thing. You just know. That's why they have prep, and you know your people. You know who likes to do what, and who doesn't like to do stuff. And then you have the reverse thing, where a guy will want to do his own thing, and then on the day not be able to. It's all feel and experience, do you double the person or not double the person?"

The dilemma to double or not to double became a significant consideration during the shooting of the sixth season episode Descent, which called for extensive underwater scenes for both Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping, but especially for Corin Nemec. Corin felt confident about doing the scenes himself, but Dan Shea, less familiar with the limits of the newest cast member, had to be certain that every safety precaution was in place. He recalls, "I went to that location scout a couple of days beforehand, and I remember Peter DeLuise saying he wanted him to swim from the other end, underneath the door, do these crystals, and all this kind of stuff. So I did it on a location scout. I dove in, and of course it was dark, and I didn't know if there was a roof, and I went under, and I went to the end, and then it was dark, and I came up, and I almost hit my head on these girders, because we hadn't worked the thing all out yet. So I was all concerned. I asked Peter if we could do it in two pieces, just have him swim for ten seconds and exit, and then he'd enter a frame so he wouldn't have to hold his breath a lot. Ordinarily, stuff that I can do, I can do better. If I can't do it, then there's no way these guys can do it. But in this case, this guy held his breath for like a minute and a half, or maybe two minutes. And doing stuff! And we had the scuba divers watching, and they were all nervous too. But we watched him, and he went down the hallway, underneath the door, he fooled around with the crystals, and I was watching and I came up three times to get a breath! I'm supposed to be there for safety, and these other guys are there with scuba gear, four or five of them, but I had to come up three times for breath in the time that Corin did this! When he came up, the scuba guys applauded. These guys have big lung capacity, but they couldn't believe Corin. He kept saying to me, yeah, yeah, it'll be fine, and usually when they say that, it's not fine. I was expecting him only to be able to hold his breath for 30 seconds, but it turns out, he did it for almost two minutes. And then Corin had to finish and stand up, and he was actually under water trying to hold himself straight without floating up, just long enough for them to flash the light. Then they could cut, and then the visual effects could take over. I remember that was difficult, too, because after he was finished, he had to swim all the way over, when you're losing your breath, and then find your mark, and then try and pretend like you're standing up, because water wants to lift you up. But from then on we were totally relaxed, the scuba guys, the safety guys, everyone relaxed, because we knew this guy was like Aqua Man, so it didn't matter. That was the one thing of this year that blew me away, that he could do that, that he held his breath forever.

"We did have a double there, but you couldn't do it, because we had to use his face. We brought in a double for the last shot of the day just for a couple hand inserts of the crystals. That was just because we wanted to get Corin out of there so they wouldn't have to be into a turnaround situation for the next day. But we did have a double there, just for safety, in case something happened, and we had all the scuba divers there, but he did it all himself. And we had a double for Amanda and a double for Rick. We had that shot where the water's coming up to the ceiling. And that's freaky, because you can't cheat not having a ceiling. They were trapped. Now, granted, ten feet away, they could have swum to freedom, but there's a certain weirdness and freakiness about water coming up. They just had this much of an air hole in there, but they had to find it. I remember Amanda had to reach with her hand, and the first take she had trouble finding where it was. When you do this with your head, your nose is four inches from the top of your head, so you're not getting any air. They had to come right up into it so they immediately got the air. But they were hitting their head on the roof, and their nose was still under water. We had scuba divers down there with regulators, but even still, once you start to panic, then you start flailing around trying to get out of there. Like I said, the two or three days before that when I was doing locations, I got out of breath, and I just wanted to get out of there. I just blew up, and I hit my head on this girder. So then we had to put rubber on it in case anyone else was stupid enough to do the same thing, and no one ever was. We had all the safety things there, but the thing is, with water, if you freak out it's not a nice situation. And you couldn't use doubles because you had to see their faces, because the camera was right on them. That was kind of a creepy little episode. It was exciting!"

It's the stunts of the running and jumping variety that Dan Shea enjoys the most. "I remember on a show called Hawkeye, we were always running and jumping off of cliffs into water. To me, that's what I like, just jumping off stuff, into stuff. No one likes what they call air rams, these things that catapult you through the air, because you can wreck your knees. But on our show we do a lot of ratchets, for the hand device. I've done a ton of those, where you have a harness, wire up to pick point, and the ratchet will have so many pounds per square inch, and it pulls you back. We do a lot of those, and those are kind of cool. They really jerk your neck, but as long as you can fly out of camera and onto a pad, it's good. It's when you have to do it and land on the ground, that's when it kills you.

"One this year, which was difficult, was the episode where O'Neill had to fall backwards," he recalls, describing his experiences doubling for O'Neill in the gravity chambers of Abyss. "It was the one where he was being tortured with the knives. From a stunt standpoint, what they decided to do was take the set and go this way with it," he says, indicating the shift of the vertical to the horizontal. "So in reality, the character O'Neill was supposed to be going back, but in fact, they were hanging me about 40 feet up in the rafters in the gateroom, and dropping me. But the part I didn't like was, I had to start facing up, and then on 'action' they released one of the cables, and I turned and flew away from camera. Now, the hard part was lifting me up those forty feet, because I had a harness on. But in order to flip me over, we had to bring a wire down and then pull me around, and hook that up to the ceiling. So basically I had a wire going across the lower part of my back, and they were lifting me up forty feet, so it was almost like I was being cut in half. And it's just taking my breath away. So then I had to contort my body, because we had already shot Rick against green screen, being a certain way. So I had to match where his body was. And they're yelling from down below, 'Lower your one leg! Raise up your one arm!' I just remember thinking I wish they'd say 'action.' And then when they did, it flipped. They were concerned the flipping would hurt my back, but that was not my concern. That was great. I just didn't want to have this thing digging into my back anymore. And the other thing was, they had to hang me up six feet and drop me, because he's in this gravity prison. So originally it was, 'Can you hang up six feet and be dropped forward onto a pad?' I said, 'Yeah, no problem.' And then it became, 'Can you hang up six feet and drop forward onto the actual grate?' And I said, 'Well, okay.' But then on the day it became, 'Can you hang upside down and be dropped onto your back onto a grate?' Well, if they would have told me that two weeks ago, I may have said, 'Well, maybe not.' But now you're just kind of hooked into it. If you say no, what's going to happen? What are they going to do? So I said, 'Uh... sure.' And so that was kind of ugly. That was all on the same day, so my neck was kind of wonky for a couple weeks after. So that was my worst one of this year. But that's the one I want to see, because there's a lot of cool effects, and I'm just wondering how it all worked. I'll bet you it looks pretty cool, but I haven't seen it yet."

In fact, he rarely has the opportunity to catch the episodes as they air, and the delay in the Canadian broadcast schedule can be as much as two years. "I never watch TV, because I'm always working," he admits. "You know, you work 12 and a half hours a day. I could probably get tapes and watch them, but I'm too busy working, and then you lose track of when they air. Now, there are specific episodes, if I'm acting as Siler, I'll try and get so I can have little pieces for my reel. Or specific O'Neill stunts that I'm interested in putting on my reel, I'll make a point of getting, so I have them. But just sitting down and watching full episodes, my kids really like the show, but it's always two years later. In fact, we saw two on the weekend, but it was from two years ago. It was the one Peter DeLuise did where they were underground, the workers were working, and the people on top were under a dome, and it was supposed to be an ice age. That aired again for the millionth time, and we watched that one and another one. But that's two years later." And it's not just seeing the finished product that he enjoys, but the personal memories that each episode sparks. "For me, watching it, my thing was, that was when all the muscle guys were at the Port Mann Power Station. All my references are personal, so it's odd. Even when you think back to MacGyver, too, I'll look at it and I'll say, that was the day that we got lost because the locations guy didn't put in that extra right turn. Or that was the day so-and-so got kicked out of GVRD because they got caught going to the bathroom behind a tree, because you can't pee at the GRVD because it's a watershed. Or I'll say, I remember that stunt guy was 30 pounds heavier than he said he was, so he was spilling out of the costume, and I remember the costume guys were mad because he tore the zipper on the first take because he was too big. So it's a much fuller, funnier appreciation of watching it as opposed to just watching the actors act and watching the actual show."

Those memories of MacGyver go back nearly 15 years. Shea had joined the production shortly after it had moved north to Vancouver in 1987. "I came maybe halfway through the first season. I was doing a show called Unsub. I was standing in at the time for David Soul. Bill Nikolai, who's standing in for Rick now, was his stand-in then, but he quit, or whatever, and so I took over for him. So I stood in for Rick for four years, and then I had the odd stunt. His stunt double was named Steve Blalock from Los Angeles. And so since, I've become Rick's stunt double, but then I was the stand-in and got the odd stunt, and the odd little acting thing. Yeah, in fact, it was right over there, ten feet away," he smiles, pointing out the window toward the building across the drive inside the Bridge Studio lot. "It's funny, it's 12 years later, but Shelly's still at the front gate, and it's all just the same," he adds, remembering how many members of the current Stargate production had been a part of MacGyver all those years ago. "Greenburg, and Jan Newman, she was in make-up, and Candice, the script supervisor, Mizel was the 1st AD. It's just like a time warp."

His career has broadened considerably since then, too. Not only a stunt double and stunt coordinator, his parallel acting career is taking off as well. For six years he has been a fan favorite as Sergeant Siler. "There was this part of this Siler guy, and there was a rumor that it may be recurring, and they said I could read for it. And I remember being downstairs and going over my lines. I was also working, so I was trying to prep, and I was trying to shoot, but I was also trying to read the lines for this. And I went up into the room, and it was Martin Wood and it was Brad, and all these guys, and Carol Kelsey was doing the off-screen lines. And I just started making them laugh. I was just joking around, and I thought I was doing great because they were just cracking up. But it turns out, they didn't want that. Brad said later to Michael Greenburg, he has a chance to get this part, why is he blowing it by trying to be funny? So then Greenburg told me, okay, go back in and do it again. So I went back in, and I tried to read it right. Martin Wood really helped because he said yeah, I think we can work with him, I think we can get enough of a performance out of him. And that's how it started. And then it did become recurring.

"And then someone started this website in England, this Siler website," he continues in amazement. "And it became kind of a joke, why does this Siler dope have his own website? They thought I was making it up. I don't know anything about computers, but my wife dialed it up for me. And there it was, his own website, and all this stuff from every little acting part I've ever had for 15 years. Whoa! So I showed the producers, and they thought it was hilarious. And then it had like 3000 hits on it, but I think it was mostly just from guys here just joking around looking at it. And so then by drawing more attention to it, maybe it got more on the minds of the writers, so they wrote him a bit more. And they sort of added a stunt option, because you've got this fool who can fall down, why not let him fall down? There's one episode, too, where we had this situation where Siler and O'Neill were in the same scene, and it was kind of stunt-y. And so I thought, how am I going to be me as Siler, and how am I going to double Rick? But then they wound up just saying let's have Siler get blown up, because then it would be simpler. And so then I had to get thrown against the lockers, and get blown up, so that's how they did it. And then we had the one where I had to flip over the railing. Once you have a character who can do stuff like that, why not take advantage of it? But it started off just as an acting thing."

The resilient Siler has become a popular figure. "Huge! Huge!" he jokes. He's even developing a bit of a background. Although his first name has never been spoken on the show, he's had two of them. "For a while it was Dan Siler, because my name's Dan Shea. I think Wardrobe just thought we'll call him Dan Siler. But I had this whole character profile worked out, and we called him Sylvester Siler, so it's actually Sly Siler. One time when I got blown up, Rick went by and said, 'Hey, Sparky,' just joking around. So no one's actually said the name Sly. But it is official because now it's actually on a nametag." His appearance has undergone some changes too. "The first shot was no glasses and dry hair. That was a scene with General Hammond. And then they thought you've got this same guy who's acting and he's doubling for Rick, let's make this guy look as little like Rick as possible. So then we got the glasses put on, and then they thought let's do the hair, so they really get into this thing for a couple of years where the hair was just greased down. It really looked bad. I just wanted not to look as much like Rick as possible so I could get more work. But now the last year and a half we've gone away from that greasy stuff, and now the guy can look normal. He just has glasses, so now my hair is kind of dry again."

He's getting more lines, too, although he laughs at some of the bloopers. "In fact, the first one of the season, it was a tricky shot because we had the Jonas character walking down the hallway, there's no cut, and then had to say something to Siler. And these words were hard, it had something to do with we can't use the Russian gate, and then walk up the thing. And it got to be hard because on take one, I did my line, but something got messed up, the dolly got messed up. And then take two the focus got messed up. And then take three somebody didn't hit their mark. And so I said my line five times, but now I'm starting to feel nervous. I can't keep spitting this thing out perfectly. So now on take seven, I said 'to' the planet instead of 'on' the planet, which changed the whole concept of the whole thing. I did that twice in a row, so two takes that were screwed up were mine. And then finally after seven takes, I'm starting to get a little bit nervous now, because it was a couple of sentences that I didn't feel comfortable saying. I screwed up the last two, so I really had to suck it up, because they were dollying down. I kept saying my line over and over under my breath, because you can't talk because it will overlap on the guy's lines while my mouth was moving. And then finally I got it, but it almost looked like I was screwing up. So a couple of them were my mistake, but it wound up being eleven takes. The producers kept joking that it was Siler who caused eleven takes. It wasn't for the first five or six or something. I was responsible for a couple. But that was the first episode of the year and I was kind of rusty. I was afraid they might write me out or something, but I've been back a few times since.

"I'm used to watching everybody else. When you're coordinating, you're watching the actors. But when you're on camera, there's forty people looking at you, and already that changes it. And then the camera's here, and then they're doing this, and then you can't lean, and you've got to hit your mark, and then they're fidgeting, and they're getting the hair, and all of a sudden you feel like you're right in the center of attention. All of a sudden something you've watched for twelve hours a day, five days a week, for ten months a year, for six years, all of a sudden you start to feel that everyone's looking at you. But that goes if you just concentrate."

The combination of stunt work and acting is the direction he foresees for his career, and he insists he enjoys both areas equally. "For me, I like both. I remember there's one where Siler had to walk up the steps and say something, and then Rick pushed him over. It was that episode where they had superhuman power. And I think I did my grunt or my groan or whatever at the wrong time. And then Shankster said, 'Well, it's kind of tough to do the stunt and the acting, right?' No, that's what I want to do. There was no excuse. That's what I'm supposedly priding myself on being able to do. I messed that up, because they had to loop that, or take out the noise, because I did it at the inappropriate time, because I was maybe anticipating going over the railing. But no, I'd like to think I can do both. Which do you prefer? Neither. I like both. I like this new thing, the stunt/actor thing, where you're acting, talking, and getting beat up, and getting thrown off. Usually they separate it. Actors talk, and the stunt guys fall down. But now there's a new group of people who do both, and I like to think I'm one of those guys."

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Ritter, Kate. "Fall Guy." July 16, 2002.


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