Last week we brought you what was technically the second half of our exclusive interview with Act of Valor Stunt Coordinator Chad Randall. Well, now that many of you have gotten a chance to see the film, we wanted to give you the first half of the interview. You’ll get to know Chad a little bit more and learn what his vision for stunt work and on screen action really is. ActionFest is all about the real men and women of action who work behind the scenes to present audiences with the thrills and chills of action cinema. And Chad Randall is one of the good guys!
So, enjoy Chad’s story!
Ed Travis: ActionFest is simultaneously trying to promote the awesome work of stunt professionals like yourself and action cinema as a whole. So I’ll ask some questions about your own career and experience and we can talk about Act of Valor as well. After talking with several members of Stunts Unlimited, I’ve learned that to be a part of that group you have to be multi-talented. But lots of stunt people got in to the industry by starting out with one major skill and then grew and expanded. What was your first major stunt skill that got you noticed?
Chad Randall: Well I am second generation. My father was involved with Stunts Unlimited from the beginning. So the sons of Stunts Unlimited grew up around peers who were training. We had an early initiation on being a well rounded athelete. So in order to work in the stunt business, you had to be proficient in several different disciplines, whether it be fight work, cars, bikes, gymnastics. So a lot of us watched our fathers, and this is kind of a lost art. Lots of folks from my generation would get together in order to train in a discipline to keep tuned up for new projects. But we had a unique experience growing up around Buddy Joe Hooker and Ronnie Rondell and Hal Needham. People like Buddy Joe passed on the secrets of the trade to us. There are just a lot of different elements to be prepared for in our business. It was like they were preparing us for the Olympics or the X Games or something. When it was our time to shine they had opened up a big avenue for us.
ET: What was your fathers name?
CR: Jerry Randall. He passed away at an early age and I was pretty much raised by Buddy Joe and grew up around (Act of Valor Director) Scott Waugh’s father, Freddie Waugh. I really grew up around intrepid individuals that paved a road for us to have a career. When I started, stunt work was really starting to break away from extra work and becoming a real avenue for stuntmen. So now what you see is the product of the work of those guys who founded Stunts Unlimited. This is a personal thing for me because today it is a different world. It is hard to find a place and time for everyone to train together. Today you have people who do have specialties, like in high falls, or fires, or car driving. Today there are folks who can make a career in just one discipline and really focus on that and perfect it. But that is what distinguishes us at Stunts Unlimited. We are passionate about keeping the well rounded athlete alive in our profession.
ET: So, was there ever an option for you, or were you always going to be a stunt man?
CR: Sons often follow in their fathers’ footsteps. I mean, in 5th grade I was writing about wanting to be a stunt man. So it is all I ever wanted to do. It was my passion. And it was an outlet to do a lot of different sports. But it was more about the passion and love for the action. I grew up with Reid Rondell, who passed away shooting Airwolf in 1985, and us growing up around our fathers drove us to want to impress them. You had David Ellis and R.A. Rondell and they were training to be the best of the next generation, so we were just trying to get noticed. That drove us to perfect our skills. Competition kept the group alive with passion.
ET: You have worked on tons of projects. What was an early film that really stands out as something that really launched your career?
CR: That is kind of a hard question. Well, my passion for my work is really what has kept me going. But any job I’ve done with Buddy Joe Hooker has been majorly influential for me. I did The Hunted with him a while back with Billy Friedkin. Shows with Buddy Joe had a huge impact on me. I did second unit coordinate on Waterworld. Water is my passion. I grew up in the ocean surfing. So that was one of my favorite movies as far as having my own team all there. To work with your brothers and have all your team there is a rare opportunity. It doesn’t happen much these days. It is hard to keep the team of brothers that you rely on together because everyone spreads out on different projects. So Waterworld stands out. The team aspect reminds me of Act of Valor. Having an organized team that knows one another; it is a well oiled machine. So whenever I can surround myself with my people it is that much better.
On Waterworld we did some things that had never been done before on water. Like underwater cables, jet skis underwater, and so forth.
But getting back to Act of Valor, my passion lies in reality based action, and getting that on film. It is a rare opportunity to get realistic action up on the screen. A lot of times the editor will cut it out or Hollywood gets its hands on it and embellishes it, making it unbelievable. There are a lot of secrets to our business that still haven’t really ever made it to film. So when you get a chance to do something like Act of Valor and get some of those classic secrets of our trade up on screen, it is great. And I am glad I can feel good about it. It is refreshing to put some of my skills to use that I learned from my old man and Buddy Joe and Stunts Unlimited.
Thanks for reading everybody. Check out Act of Valor in theaters if you haven’t already. And check out the other half of our Chad Randall interview here.