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Daniel Radcliffe and David Holmes Talk “Potter” Stunts

As previously reported, Daniel Radcliffe and his former Harry Potter stunt double, David Holmes, have joined forces for a new podcast all about the world of stunt performing.

While promoting the podcast (the dangerously titled Cunning Stunts), Holmes and Radcliffe spoke to Deadline about the need for further recognition of the art of stunt performing and revealed some stories from the Potter sets.

Holmes was Radcliffe’s stunt double for the Potter series until he sustained a life-changing injury while filming the final movie. Through the podcast, Holmes is hoping to share some of the amazing stories from members of the stunt performing community.

It seems like there are more than a few stories to tell from the Potter set, including a not-so-promising start for a young Daniel Radcliffe. Holmes revealed that his first impressions of Radcliffe’s athletic ability left a lot to be desired:

We were at Alnwick Castle, and there’s a scene where Harry has to hit a ball with a bat. As soon as [Greg Powell, stunt coordinator, and I] saw Dan swing the bat, he just looked at me and went, ‘We’re going to have to do a bit of work with him, you know?’ It was just the way Dan was moving; you could tell he’d not come from any sort of athletic background.

Despite this shaky start, the pair worked together to get Radcliffe ready to perform stunts that involved Harry’s face to be on camera. Radcliffe’s big moment came in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Holmes felt he was able to undertake some of the stunts on his own. One of these was a sequence from the first task of the Triwizard Tournament, which involved Radcliffe sliding down the roof of one of the Hogwarts turrets:

He’s dropped from a static wire onto the roof, and then he starts his slide. The risk is the initial fall, which we padded him up for, and then the speed you build up as you slide down. Not only that, but he slid off the roof and pulled a broomstick over his shoulder to get it into his lap and then landed on a crash mat at the bottom. It was a lot of things to think about in four or five seconds. But he was pukka; really good.

It was through working with Holmes that Radcliffe developed an appreciation of stunt performing. He remains an advocate for the art form and encourages film fans to think more about the effort and skills that go into coordinating and performing great stunts:

When the public see something really painful or horrible, they think it was a visual effect or that there’s some clever, safe way of doing it. Often that’s not the case. There’s no way of faking, for example, falling down stairs. When you get hit by a car, you’re still getting hit by a car, even if it’s going slower than it would. They find the safest way of doing it, but it can still hurt.

Both Holmes and Radcliffe feel that performers are long overdue the recognition from Hollywood and are in favor of an Academy Award for stunt performing.

But when you go through what happened with Dave or Olivia [Jackson, a stunt performer who lost an arm on a Resident Evil production], or the many people we’ve talked to [who] have had severe things happen to them, you realize everyone has put their bodies on the line to make the things we love. It seems crazy not to acknowledge that.

For Holmes, the podcast is a chance to share his experiences as both an audience member and a former stunt performer.

I watch films all the time. Not only because I love them but [also] because I live in a wheelchair now; I can lose myself in them. A great stunt sequence in a film­—the way it flows[—]is brilliant to me. And I can see both sides, as an audience member and as someone who has been a participant and done it.

Episodes of Cunning Stunts are available to listen to now on Apple Podcasts and Podomatic.

Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!