Guy Clayton, the special effects coordinator on MGM’s The Domestics, says he feels responsible for the “wigging” incident that led to a sex discrimination complaint filed with the EEOC by stuntwoman Deven MacNair, because he told “the powers that be” that he could get the special effects ready on short notice.
MacNair, however, isn’t having any of it. “How many excuses are we going to hear?” she asked. “They said I was too big to double the actress, that I’m a horrible driver, that the car had no brakes, that the car caught on fire the day before. They say there was no time to get a stuntwoman there and that she got paid anyway. They have got to stick with a story, for God’s sake. This is straight up gas-lighting. This is the epitome of gas-lighting.”
Her complaint alleges that the film’s stunt coordinator, Nick Gillard, wouldn’t let her do a driving stunt because he felt it was too dangerous for her, and donned a wig and woman’s clothes and did it himself.
Clayton told Deadline in a written statement that he shares the blame because he’s the one who sold “the powers that be” on the shot, which involved a stunt car rigged with squibs – small explosives to simulate gunshot hits – with a special effects man in the back seat firing them off from a nail board, a rudimentary switch panel that set off the explosive charges.
“I feel responsible for this whole mess,” he wrote. “We had a scene where an old Chevy was driving down a road while being fired upon. The car back window and trunk were loaded with over 20 squibs. A stuntwoman was hired to drive the car and was awesome, but during the take only a few of the squibs fired due to a failure in the electronic firing system I had selected. The company moved on to another scene because of the amount of time they had. It was a very ambitious schedule for that location and it didn’t allow time for me to regroup and go again.
“The next day I approached the powers that be and asked to have a second chance to do the scene again because of my pride and failure, or I was just going to fire the squibs and get rid of them. I was told they did not know if they had enough time and I also believe that was the last day of that location, so just in case I wired the car. I went old school and put a nail board in the back seat. The only thing missing was the driver from the day before and I think you know the end of the story. I do know I was thankful to have a skilled driver behind the wheel of that old Chevy. I don’t see the stunt coordinator having a choice in this situation other than telling the director he can’t have his shot the effects guy sold him on. In retrospect, if I knew what all this was going to cause, I would have never asked for take two. So as you see this whole mess is on me and I am sorry. I now understand the wigging thing and I will think through how it affects every department before I ask for something unscheduled in the future.”
Clayton said he only recently found out about the situation, and that wigging “is a new phrase to me. I have been in the industry for just over 38 years, and I did not realize the boundaries of how stunt players were chosen, I always thought it was dictated by skillset and size and look, I have complete admiration for our stuntwomen and stuntmen, their skillset and professionalism.”
He says he’s also seen “many women playing young men and vice versa. In my opinion, I have worked with the best of the best over the years and I’m always in awe of their capabilities.”
MacNair filed her complaint against the film’s production company, Hollywood Gang, and against SAG-AFTRA, which she accused of “not helping me in this matter.” The union’s investigation into the incident concluded that “wigging a male stunt performer to double for a female performer is not acceptable and that this should not happen again,” and that it “remains committed” to ending the practice of men doubling for women.