In a recent article about stuntmen donning wigs and dresses to double for actresses – an age-old practice known as “wigging” – Stunts Unlimited president Pat Romano told Deadline that he’d never seen it in all his years in the industry.
“I have never seen a guy dress up as a girl, and I’ve been in the business 30 years,” he said. Deadline, however, has obtained photos of him wearing a woman’s wig for a stunt he performed on a Progressive auto insurance commercial in 2015.
When shown the photos, Romano said via email: “From what I can remember, the director added a last minute insert shot while the double was at another location or getting ready, something that prevented her from being there, so I jumped in. As you can see, I have a full beard, obviously I wasn’t trying to pass as a woman. The doubles I employed on this shoot were Annie Ellis and Melissa Barker.”
But if he “wasn’t trying to pass as a woman,” Deadline asked why he also wearing a woman’s crème-colored turtleneck sweater identical to the one worn by the actress driving the car in the ad, as can be seen here:
Romano, the head of one of the industry’s four largest men-only stuntmen’s organizations, did not respond to the follow-up question.
Wigging has been going on since the days of silent movies, but it became a point of contention recently when stuntwoman Deven MacNair filed a sex-discrimination complaint with the EEOC over a wigging incident on MGM’s The Domestics in November 2016. The film’s stunt coordinator said that the stunt was too dangerous for MacNair to do, so he did it himself in a woman’s wig and clothes.
SAG-AFTRA looked into the incident and, after closing its investigation, concluded that “wigging a male stunt performer to double for a female performer is not acceptable and that this should not happen again.” The union, however, did not fine the film’s production company for not doing more to find a qualified stuntwoman to do the job, though it says it “will remain committed to doing what it can to eliminate this practice.”
MacNair filed her EEOC against the film’s production company, Hollywood Gang, and against the union, which she has accused of “not helping me in this matter.”