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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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June 28 2006

Toughest Girls In Hollywood...SMG is #7. "All those years doing Buffy, and she's a black belt ... 'nuff said!"

A small description on the toughest chicks in Hollywood going from Sarah Michelle Gellar to...Lindsay Lohan?

Ok...I could take Lohan in a fight and I am 37, unless her security team counts. The rest of the list is pretty darn good.
Where the heck is Linda Hamilton or Sigourney Weaver, 2 of the tougher women in Hollywood?
Wow, I didn't know she was a black-belt! Fancy.
In a battle between Sydney Bristow and Buffy Summers, who would win?
Viewers win. We'd have a great battle to see :P
I never would have believed SMG was a black belt. Just look at the way she punches the punching bag in 'Once More With Feeling'. She was punching with bent wrists. which is a fighting no no... and an easy way to break your wrists.

How much of her action sequences were stunt doubles?
You are allowed to bend your wrists during a musical.
She took up karate very early in the series, didn't she?
Yeah, that always bothered me how she was punching in that episode.

You can pretty easily tell that it's mainly stunt doubles. Any action scene, any shot that isn't a close-up is pretty much guaranteed to be stunt people. There are quite a few parts where it's painfully obvious. Right now I'm thinking of the Buffy/Faith fight in Graduation Day, but there are others.
It would, of course, make perfect sense for someone who stands around 5'2" tall and weighs something in the region of 95-100lbs to perform her own stunts (especially those double back flips), thus constantly jeopardising the shooting schedule of a show that worked to an extremely tight schedule and on a relatively tiny budget. The cast on SMG's wrist in 'Homecoming' is evidence of an injury sustained when she performed one of her own stunts.

I am sure the producers were more than happy to make use of skilled stunt doubles rather than their leading actors, something that the insurers undoubtedly also welcomed. On the other hand, perhaps they should have employed a real vampire slayer!

Gellar does not, I believe, have a "black belt", although it is said she studied Tae Kwon Do to the level of brown belt prior to 'Buffy'. In the end, though, she is an actor not a martial arts expert.
Yeah ok, I gotta step in and say this. Punching a bag with bent wrists is a no no but if you straighten your wrists at the correct moment you can gain extra power that way. But you have to be experienced and know what your doing because if you miss, you will break your wrists. In that sense, I dont believe that SMG is that experienced but I COULD buy that Buffy is that experienced. Still, you really dont want to use that fighting style but you can if you want.

I guess I should make my post relevant too! Uh she has a brown belt from what ive heard, and I have no idea if she did all her stunts. There thats relevant right? LOL.
Of course she didn't do "all" her own stunts; no actor does all their own stunts. OK, maybe in a romantic comedy setting. Even there, you're liable to get hit in the face with a tray wielded by a comic waiter, or nearly fall under a bus while chasing your dream date.

SMG did do some stunts, and it's equally clear in many of the action sequences that she stepped in and kicked and punched where necessary for the close-ups. And of course, Sophia Crawford, to name the most prominent stunt double, performed the vast majority of the real fighting, leaping, and falling moments. There's a nice feature on the Chosen Collection about that.

Yep, SMG studied Tae Kwon Do, and reached brown belt. At least, that's what she said in various interviews, including the Howard Stern one.

That all said, I've always been annoyed by the slo-mo bent wrist punching in OMWF. There're plenty of other sequences that demonstrate SMG knows how to punch properly - but that one is always held up as "proof" that she doesn't.

Still, let's not talk about her running . . .
Oh god, the running...
Hate to compare apples to oranges, but can you recall Eliza Dushku in the pilot of 'Tru Calling'?
Loved her punching, loved her running, loved everything she ever did on Buffy. SMG rocks.
Ah, the running. Yeah, SMG's running was, err, different ;). I was amused a few years back while watching British 400m Olympic Gold Medallist Sally Gunnell on some variety show on TV. Clearly the woman can run (at one point she held the 400m world record) but, just as clearly, on this show she 'ran like a girl' complete with lower leg flapping out and everything (just like SMG). I've been told (by a woman, for whatever that's worth) it's related to women's hips and the relative position of their knees but i'm not entirely convinced (other things e.g. 'throwing like a girl' are just a matter of practice - for instance i'm a right-handed man but I exhibit all the signs when I throw with my left hand - so maybe running is too and Gunnell was just in relaxed, non-professional running mode on the show since she didn't seem to run like that when I watched her race).

Re: stunt doubles, clearly they can't use SMG for everything but I just wish that they'd had the time/money to cover the shots a bit better so that it was less obvious. Sometimes it's so blatant that it really takes me out of the action which is a bit of a shame (Angel had its moments too e.g. there's a bit where Jasmine jumps off an overpass, lands behind a car and stands up. Gina so clearly stands up yards behind where the stunt double landed that it reminded me of the Naked Gun spoofs. Which may or may not have been deliberate ;).
On the other hand, the ice skating was good. And I loved the way she kicked the knife out of the air in OMWF.
I read somewhere James Marsters said, for insurance purposes, if both feet come off the floor, it's a stunt double.

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