"What is an Action Actor?" with Veronica Roy

Updated: Aug 30, 2020

What exactly is an action actor?

An Action Actor is someone who does all the work of an actor but also does a lot (if not all) of their own fight sequences and smaller stunts. Smaller stunts are those that even if done wrong, won’t kill you or damage you enough that they would have to put on a halt on production while you heal. 

Where did you get your training?

My interest in learning how to fight started at a young age. When your father is a retired Marine, you pick up a few things. Then in college I started taking Muy Thai Kickboxing at a Martial Arts Studio in my hometown. 

However, I really started pursuing Action roles as my craft when I began my training with the Academy of Theatrical Combat. They gave me a great introduction into what it means to fight on film and provided me with my first exposure to fighting with different European sword styles. Next, I began training with Terence Rotolo to help me level up in close combat fights. He’s also been teaching me new fight styles such as Kali and knife work - with a little bit of footwork and mixed martial arts thrown in for good measure. 

Next on the training horizons is work with MoCap and Wirework. This industry requires constant learning, growing, and training. I’m always looking to try a new thing or adding to my repertoire any tool that will help me tell a stronger story.  

What is the difference between an action actor and a stunt-person?

The simplistic breakdown I like to give is this: “After I’m done with this Shakespearean monologue I’m going to Black Widow kick the crap out of everyone in this room. And then I do. BUT if you want me to set myself on fire then jump off the roof of a 100 story building…. STUNT DOUBLE!! I’ll be in my trailer!”

What are some of your favorite action scenes you've worked on?

The first one that comes to mind would have to be from my most recent Star Wars Fan Film called Balance of the Force. I play a bounty hunter named Chanath Cha who is being interrogated at the beginning of the film. I was bound to a tree with a dude’s gun in my face. I manage to get myself free, stun the henchman with the dagger, use the rope I’m still tied up with to kill the dude with the gun then back to choke out the henchman. It’s probably one of my favorite fight scenes to date. 

Another fun one - I worked on a comedy sketch series called LaRoy Series on Youtube. The episode is about a couple struggling over control of the television. There’s some fun headbutts, punches, rolls and flips we had to navigate within a living room space. It was fun because it was so unexpected. 

What makes a good partner for a fight scene?

Ooo! Having no ego! Look, we are all here to work and play and make something really cool. Don’t tarnish the fun by being “that guy” who thinks he knows it, has seen it all, has done it all, and HAS to tell everyone about it all the time. I’ve worked with people like that, and as a producer myself, you remember that attitude and make a mental note not to recommend them for any future work or use them again. Burnt bridges are a great way to shorten the life of your career. This industry is just as much about relationships as it is about your talent. Be on time, show up to rehearsals, be a team player, do the work and be open to the collaboration process. The End.

What is the most useful advice you could give to someone looking to become an action actor?

Consistency. Whatever classes you pay to attend… attend them! Even if you "don’t feel like it" that day, attend anyway! Put in the work, put in the hours, learn from different people and train in different styles. Pay attention to both your craft as an actor and your action craft.

Be ready so you never have to get ready.” - Will Smith

What are your top 5 favorite action movie scenes?

  1. Black Widow’s Interrogation fight in The Avengers

  2. The killing spree in the Church in Kingsman: The Secret Service 

  3. Okoye and Nakia’s fight sequences in the Casino melee in Black Panther 

  4. Arya’s fight sequences in later seasons of Game of Thrones

  5. And of course “The Hallway Scene” from season 1 of Netflix’s Daredevil

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