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Women of Action: Meet the Stunt Performers Who Help Scarlett Johansson, Evangeline Lilly and More Stars Kick Ass

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When Scarlett Johansson was first cast in 2009 as ballet dancer turned fistfighting superspy Black Widow in Marvel’s Iron Man 2, she wasn’t exactly prepared for the part. “I’d never stepped foot in a gym,” she confesses. “I had no experience with any sort of martial arts or anything like that.

She turned out to be a quick learner, especially after being paired with stuntwoman Heidi Moneymaker, who’s been training with and doubling for the actress in Marvel movies ever since. So far she’s had appearances in six of Johansson’s films, with a soon-to-be-seventh gig in the Avengers sequel being directed by the Russo brothers. And there could be an eighth: a stand-alone Black Widow movie is reportedly in development. “[Heidi and I] got to create this side of the character and expand on it over this past decade,” says Johansson, 34. “I don’t know how many actors have the opportunity to play the same character over 10 years.

A UCLA-trained gymnast, Moneymaker, 40, started her career with minor stunt work on such TV shows as Angel and The O.C., working her way up the food chain and into features (doubling for Drew Barrymore in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and for Michelle Rodriguez in 2009’s Fast and Furious). But she says no matter how big the job, she relies on her gymnastics discipline to help her get through the day in one piece. “The athlete mentality is definitely good to have,” she says. “I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘I’m crazy, I’ll do anything! I could be a stuntman or a stuntwoman.’ Those are the kind of people that you don’t want around.

Over her 15-year career, Moneymaker has learned that being a stuntwoman is in some ways even more hazardous than being a stuntman. “Wardrobe for women is tighter and skimpier,” she explains. “When you get slammed into walls or hit by a car, it’s harder to pad up. If a guy is wearing fatigues or something a little baggier, they have the opportunity to put more padding on.” Finding work is also more challenging since action films traditionally have fewer female onscreen roles. “It’s a lot of bros,” she says of stunt-heavy sets. “Sometimes I just want to be around women. I’ll go somewhere and there’s women there, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, thank God!’

Recently, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand, Moneymaker’s and Johansson’s work has had to accommodate an increasingly crowded screen. “As the films grew larger in scale, it became less hands-on for most of the actors,” says Johansson, noting that shooting is now an intricate ballet of scheduling. “We have three to four units going at the same time.

For the actress, the trick to working with her longtime stuntwoman is simple: “I tell myself, ‘Do whatever Heidi does. Just listen to whatever she says and she’ll keep me safe.’

Source: hollywoodreporter.com

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Scarlett Johansson reportedly turned down film funding from Saudi prince

Scarlett Johansson reportedly vetoed funding from the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for her next film.

The actor is set to play the Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario in a biopic directed by Ridley Scott, but when she found out the initial set of funders included Bin Salman, she rejected his involvement.

Scarlett Johansson said absolutely not,” Addario said in an interview with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. “She said: ‘This guy is perpetuating the war in Yemen. He has women in prison.’

She also added: “This was before the killing of Khashoggi, when he became one of the main people who wanted to fund the movie.

Bin Salman has recently been implicated in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who died in the Saudi embassy in Turkey after writing critically about Bin Salman’s rule.

I didn’t meet with him personally,” Addario said. “But my sense is that he probably – my movie got folded into this huge charm campaign. And that fact that he wanted to show the west that he was into Hollywood, he was into all the great things of the west … Do I want him associated with this movie? Obviously not. And thank God he’s not.

In April, Bin Salman headed to Hollywood to meet with studio heads and stars including Dwayne Johnson. It was a visit that led to protests and last week the CNN reporter Oliver Darcy tweeted a screen grab of an Instagram post from Johnson at the time stating it was a “pleasure” to meet him.

Such a silly, clickbait post, Oliver,” Johnson fired back. “I’m surprised you’d post this. Go back and really read my words. I listened and learned then. As I listen and learn now. C’mon man.

Addario’s work has focused on global conflicts and particularly the effect they have had on women. During her career, she has been kidnapped twice and sexually assaulted while detained in Libya. The upcoming film, originally set to be directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jennifer Lawrence, is based on Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do.

Johansson was recently embroiled in controversy after signing on to play a transgender character in fact-based crime drama Rub & Tug, a decision that led to upset and caused her to abandon the project. “Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive,” a statement read.

Source: theguardian.com