Anna Lisa Raya is the editor of Awardsline
The life of a stunt person involves the kind of crashes, jumps and falls that make us mere mortals cringe. The irony for Cort Hessler, Emmy-nominated stunt coordinator on NBC’s action-packed The Blacklist, is that only after he switched from doing stunts to overseeing them did he start getting injured. “I’ve done some really big stuff that should’ve really hurt me,” Hessler says. “But I’ve gotten hurt more on set as a stunt coordinator than I ever have as a stunt man. Recently, I was walking in a field on a (location) scout, stepped in a hole I didn’t see, and blew my ankle out. It’s the small stuff that will bite you.” Forget bumps and bruises. Hessler says he gets a bigger adrenaline rush watching a stunt rather than doing one, hyper aware of the fact that one misstep could land a stunt person or, worse yet, an actor in the hospital. “We’ve done some pretty hard T-bone crashes and wrecks on the show, and my heart is in my throat every time.” So, Hessler’s literally more-grounded job has turned out to be worse for his health. Go figure.
Joking aside, advances in technology, particularly as they relate to special effects, allow Hessler’s stunt people to be safer on a set. “Before, we’d do fly work or wirework with really little cables so (the special effects team) could barely see them, in case they had to be painted out,” Hessler says. “Now, we can use bigger cables because they want to see them, so they can track them and take them out (in post-production).” The advantages come with a price. Adds Hessler: “Because stunt work is safer now, the action is bigger.”