#NewsBytesExplainer: Who is a body double? Here's everything to know
A cinematic venture is the labor of love of numerous people, and while we only see the actors on screen, there are several people who work collaboratively for several days to ensure that the project sees the light of day. Body doubles are among the several people who work in the background and are the backbone of every film. Here's everything about them.
Who exactly is a body double?
Nashville Film Institute defines a body double as, "[An actor] utilized in certain precise scenes to substitute the credited actor's character." "[Their] face is disguised to keep the illusion that they are the same character by shooting their body at an angle that leaves their face out or superimposing the original actor's face over the body double." This face-swapping takes place during post-production.
Do we ever see them on camera?
To put it simply, we usually don't see them on camera, barring any continuity errors or goof-ups. We do, however, see their backs often. Per experts, "The double's face is rarely seen on camera, especially if they do not have the same facial features as the leading actor; if the double's hair color differs from the leading actor's, a wig is usually used."
What do they exactly do? Role and functions
Body doubles are an essential constituent of the filmmaking process, and several films, particularly large-scale action ventures can fall flat if body doubles aren't available. They can be roped in to perform stunts, play a musical instrument flawlessly, perform scenes involving physical intimacy, etc. In case the actor is unavailable or unwell, body doubles, more often than not, fill in for them.
Body doubles must have strong resemblance with the actor
Much of body doubles' work emanates from their strong physical resemblance with the actor: physical features, height, hair, and sometimes, voice. "A body double must be able to recite his or her lines with the exact timing as the actor and replicate the same physical actions in coordination with the other principal actors." They are also frequently employed in scenes demanding double roles.
Different types: What do stunt doubles do?
Stunt doubles are trained professionals who have the onus of performing several nerve-racking stunts. Some of these, unfortunately, may also put their lives at risk. Their role in action films, thus, cannot be overstated. Marvel and DC's cinematic offerings are known for leveraging their talents quite often. Frank Hanaway, who had a part in The Great Train Robbery, is considered the first-ever stuntman.
In 2011, a controversy broke out about dance doubles' credits
Dance doubles are called upon on occasions when an actor is occupied with another schedule and cannot make it to a dance sequence, or doesn't have professional prowess. They are often trained in several dance forms. In 2011, their role caught attention when Natalie Portman won an Oscar for Black Swan, and a section objected that her dance double Sarah Lane, deserved credit, too.
Most actors, naturally, don't perform intimacy scenes themselves
Remember THAT scene from Game of Thrones where Cersei Lannister had to undergo the walk of shame in King's Landing? Naturally, Lena Headey didn't do it, her body double did. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson for Fifty Shades of Grey, Isla Fisher in Wedding Crashers, Kit Harrington in Game of Thrones are some examples of actors who relied on their doubles for intimate/nude scenes.
Do you know about these famous Indian body doubles?
Just like international cinema, Indian movies, too, employ body doubles in a wide range of films. For instance, Katrina Kaif's stunt double performed some action scenes in Bang Bang, while Greek God Hrithik Roshan, too, sought the help of a professional for the film Mohenjo Daro. Were you awed by Shah Rukh Khan's gravity-defying scenes from Brahmastra? Also a body double's magic!
Tom Cruise is known for doing his own stunts
Noted Hollywood actor Tom Cruise mostly insists on performing all his high-octane action sequences himself, which is what sets him apart from everyone and makes him the best in the business! "The first time of any stunt is nerve-wracking but it is also exhilarating."