Confessions of a retired Stunt Woman I
~~ Jean Coulter
This (above), was one of those stunts where everything went wrong! It was a picture called "Honky Talk Freeway" directed by John Schlesinger. And the stunt team read like a "Who's Who" of Hollywood Stunt people!
The first time, I flew out of the car, it slid over the hill with me. I rolled down the hill while the car was right next to me. As the tire was sliding within inches of my face, I wondered if it could flip while sliding so fast and I would end up underneath it.
So we put a barrier up so that the car would crash into the it as I was standing up and preparing to fly out of the car. The problem was we were going about 40 miles an hour, so when we hit the barrier and I jumped out of the car, my body was ALSO going 40 miles an hour, so that left me in the middle of the air dropping about 80 feet to the ground and hitting the side of the hill and rolling.
Thank goodness the only thing that happened to me was that I cracked a vertebrae in my neck! My whole body was shaking from my muscles being stretched out so far. It was quite an experience that taught me more lessons as a stuntwoman!!
One day I was working for Hal Needham on a TV movie he was coordinating. On one particular Car Stunt, I was to bring a car around a corner, spin it out, and slide it to a stop near the camera. The director came up to me and told me that wanted me to spin it in a certain direction. So after the director had spent all this time telling me how he wanted me to do it, he walked away and Hal, who had patiently been standing nearby, looked up and said: "Now you're going to do it the way I want you to do it" and it was basically (of course) the total opposite of what the director had told me to do.
The director yelled action and I drove the car as Hal had instructed, but when I slid it to a stop in the opposite direction of what the director had expected, I heard him yell "CUT" and then he came walking over to me yelling (because he was one of those 'yelling' kind directors) at the top of his lungs: "What are you doing?"! That's when Hal went right in front of his face and said: "Don't you yell at her, she's doing what I told her to do & I'm her boss".
Of course I was scared as heck sitting in the car not knowing what was going to happen but in the end he did print it and I guess it turned out great but that's what it was like to work with him. and make no mistake, Hal was your boss when he hired you..
On another job I was doing with Hal that he was coordinating, we did this chase scene in the mountains; chasing each other back and forth. In this one shot he wanted me to climb the side of the mountain with my car (and it was a small car) so as we got ready to start he said: "Honey (He always called me that, and I didn't mind because he always treated me with respect), when you do this, hug the side of the mountain and I'm going to take my car and put it right underneath you and don't worry, baby, I'll hold you on the side of the mountain", because the alternative was do a roll over his car and go off the cliff. So because I really was trusting in him & knowing that he would always do what he said he would do... well, of course it went off perfectly! but I will say that it was still quite an experience & scary at times but I always had a good time and he was awesome to work with!!
I really admire women who…
I really admire women who can be athletic and feminine at the same time.
Very glad you are sharing your stories here, Jean.
Congrats to Cort Hessler
Congrats to Cort Hessler on his 2018 Emmy Nom and his many other accomplishments!