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Theo Kypri > A stuntman’s double act August 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.

Life as a stuntman can involve hours in makeup but also means putting your life on the line.

Johnny Depp rocked in Pirates of the Caribbean:Dead Man’s Chest, as he did in the first part of what is to become a trilogy. He stole the show portraying the roguish yet charming Jack Sparrow and mesmerised the audience with his three-way swordfights. Or did he? As much as everybody loves Johnny Depp and would like to believe he was brave enough to throw himself off ships, fight sea creatures and cannibals, the truth is, he wasn’t. So who was? Theo Kypri, the English-Cypriot stuntman, who will go to any length, including dangling from wires while on fire, in the name of showbiz.

“That was a close call,” Theo says. “The original plan was for me and another stunt double to be pulled over a camera, about 18 feet up in the air and let down but for some reason that didn’t happen. Meanwhile we were on fire, literally and the wire had to be cut. It was pretty surreal especially when I started to get hot but it worked out and I am here to tell the tale.”

As terrifying as that story is, it is all part of a normal day for stuntman Kypri, who has a number of A-List movies on his resume, including War of The Worlds, The Legend of Zorro, Mr and Mrs Smith, Alexander, Tomorrow Never Dies and Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. Waking up at 3:30 in the morning to get onto the set on time for procedures such as having prosthetics attached to his face is also “normal”, but it’s until 5:30 or 6 that the action really begins.

Kypri said his interest in death defying feats began at the age of four when he flung himself down the stairs. “I remember I wanted to be a superhero from a very young age. I wanted to defy the norm,” he explains. Unable to fulfil his dreams of flying, Theo decided his best bet would be to give the trampoline a go. “I was so attracted to being in the air, flipping and twisting that I knew I had found something that I loved to do.”

Kypri has won many awards, and after earning the title of London Junior Schools Diving Champion at the age of 10 and Islington Tennis Champion at 14, “I played tennis for many years”, he met his mentor, Johnny Tenn. It was Tenn who helped Kypri become the British Men’s Individual Champion in 1994 and eventually got him in the top ten at the World Trampoline Championships. He finished eighth.

“I ended that part of my life in 1995 because I did want to go higher,” he explains. “I had been training for the British Stunt Register, an organisation in England that declares you have to qualify in six sports before you are able to work as a stuntman.”

He was accepted and moved to California in 2001 hoping to use his sword fighting, high falls, wire work and acrobatic skills, in Hollywood.

Hope became a reality and although it has been a long ride, nowadays he is happy spending his days off with his wife and son at the park or swimming pool.

“When I’m working sometimes it feels that you have no life apart from the movie you’re involved in,” he says. “I don’t have a working schedule,” he adds, “it could be six hours, it could be a straight eight hour day and it could be 14. It’s gruelling but anyone that is there loves the work.” So, is there time to eat? “Oh yeah! They have catering trucks on set so getting a good breakfast is pretty easy and the spread at breakfast and lunch tends to be quite good.”

Stuntmen are part classified as part of the crew on a film set rather than part of the case. Kypri admits his job can be dangerous, from falling off a chair to being run over with a 50ton tank, and his life has been in danger more times than he would care to count.

“In Band of Brothers, we had dug a stunt pit, so when extreme pressure came from above I would be pushed down into this pit. If it had gone wrong, I would have been in a lot of trouble.”

Right now, he is filming Pirates of The Caribbean 3, which should be finished by the end of this year. “Doubling for Johnny Depp means spending a good hour in the chair for wardrobe, hair and make-up but that’s not really a problem when you’ve got stunts to rig.” So who is his favourite star? “I am a keen backgammon player and I promised myself if I ever worked with Omar Sharif, I would ask him for a game. It happened on Hidalgo and we ended up playing in his trailer for an hour. A very good player and a lovely man.” Just an ordinary day for an extraordinary man who has defied the laws of nature and gravity!

Related Links > http://www.stuntaction.com/article.php?id=1

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