'BEYOND' THE CALL: An Interview With Stuntman JASON BELL

Director Justin Lin's Star Trek: Beyond is having a terrific run at the box office and with all the hope for a fourth judging by some of the news making the rounds last month. Amid the hype, we were contacted by Ashley Buck of M Public Relations to get a few words in with former military serviceman-turned-stuntman Jason Bell who appears in the film, and has quite a few bits to share about his life upscaling in the stunt industry, as well as a few great updates you might be keen on. Enjoy, and don't forget to see the film in theaters this summer and lookout for Jason on screen!

Photo: Dan Rizzuto
Film Combat Syndicate: Greetings Jason and thanks for agreeing to share your story with my readership! How has the year been for you so far up until now?
Jason Bell: I should be thanking you! This year started off very busy actually. I had the chance to get out and play on WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES and work with Andy Serkis who is beyond humble and the nicest guy you could ever meet. 

FCSyndicate: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to go into film and television as a stuntman and performer? I understand your father was somewhat influential in that aspect.
JB: Growing up I was always active, playing hockey, soccer and doing karate. In my later years after my military contract ended, I knew I wanted to get into film but I wanted a good route to channel my energy and skill set. I had a couple buddies already in stunts and they told me about places I should train, where to meet local stunt performers and get a better grasp on how to get into the industry. 
My Dad always inspired me to keep active. He was a semi-pro rugby player, sailor, forestry worker and avid outdoors man for most of his life. He's 74 years old and still plays competitive tennis!

FCSyndicate: You've done numerous TV shows and films since you started. What are some of the biggest stunts you've done that you can remember? And what goes into preparing for those kinds of feats?
JB: The biggest stunts I've done are ratchets. These are the ones where you see a guy being thrown 20 feet back. I remember on the first season of The CW's "The Flash", I was doubling Robbie Amell's Firestorm and there's a scene where he pulls a lever and he's thrown back about 15 to 20 feet into a wall. Robbie acted the heck outta that scene, but the guy going into the wall was yours truly. We rehearsed that pull for about eight hours, as we need every based covered for safety and timing with the camera, the guy pulling the trigger on the ratchet and the performer.
FCSyndicate: What's been the most enjoyable aspect so far of being a stuntman for you?
JB: I love that my job and days are never the same. I'm always a different character and in a different location. I've also learned so much from working with veterans of the business, the do's and big don'ts. I have a lot of the local guys in Vancouver to thank for my success and for what they've passed onto me. Stunting is a job that requires you to keep learning, moving and progressing. Everyday is like attending the coolest school I could go to.
FCSyndicate: I haven't seen Star Trek: Beyond as of this write up but my plan is to see it at the end of the month if I can help it. How did you land the gig?
JB: Every stunt guy and actor in town knew the film was coming months before they even opened the office doors. The coordinator who was based out of LA I've never worked for before, so I just fired my resume off to his office. I got a call one day to ask if I was available for a bunch of dates and they were looking for someone to play Captain Kirk's #1 Security guy and the rest was history. I was beyond excited for this role and the chance to be in such a massive franchise movie.
FCSyndicate: What was it like working with Chris Pine and director Justin Lin?
JB: Sometimes shooting can get tense and the cast and/or crew can get stressed out, but I have never worked on a more relaxed and fun set before. Justin Lin was completely comfortable at the helm of STAR TREK BEYOND. He was the kind of director that trusted his actors and got the best work out of them. Chris Pine had an amazing sense of humor. 16 plus days on set and the guy was smiling and joking until the bitter end. Working with these two made the whole process fun and easy for everyone working such long days. 
FCSyndicate: Have you had a chance to see the film yet?
JB: I have seen the film and loved every minute of it. It's definitely more of a homage to the original series. I would advise watching it in 3D.
FCSyndicate: What are some other things you've picked up during your time in entertainment? Any interests in coordinating, writing or directing your own projects?
JB: I'd have to say just from working with such a diverse skilled and talented community, I've picked up and learned new skills and performance abilities. When you get your first stunt gig you're just bad guy #1 and your face is dead, but as time goes on you learn to get into these characters and perform the role which makes the work so much more rewarding and fun. As for coordinating I would love the opportunity to shadow and learn all aspects of it but I'd really love to get into writing and producing. In my own mind I think I have some great story ideas and I'd love to delve into that in the near future.
FCSyndicate: What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned so far while working in film?
JB: Have thick skin, learn from your mistakes, constantly progress and be confident. Those key factors help you set yourself up for success. It's a tough industry but persistence and tenacity pay off in the end.
FCSyndicate: How does your own 2016 TV and movie schedule look so far? Are there any titles you're looking forward to catching before the year is out?
JB: I've been fortunate enough to stay pretty constant. I'm pretty active in the DC world with The CW's "Arrow", "Flash" and "Legends of Tomorrow", but I know THE PREDATOR and DEADPOOL 2 are slated to start filming this year and I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't absolutely love to get on one of those productions. It's going to be a busy year.
FCSydicate: I also read that before you wanted to be an air force pilot after watching Fire Birds with Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones - that one was a fave growing up for me as well. Favorite scene, and go!
JB: It's been a while since I've seen it, but the scene that resonated with me is the training scene where Nicolas Cage, who plays a new sort of top gun pilot, is pitted against Tommy Lee Jones' veteran character. To this day I dabble with the idea of taking a helicopter pilot course.
FCSyndicate: What's next for Jason Bell?
JB: I started back on The CW's "Arrow" and "Legends of Tomorrow", so I'll be floating around those shows for most of the season. I'm also trying to find the time to sneak out of town and go work on Netflix's "Iron Fist" in New York.
Photo: Dan Rizzuto
Well now, seeing as how I live in NYC, I certainly hope to shake this man's hand and share a beer!

Special thanks to Ashley Buck for connecting all of us for this interview, and to James for partaking and contributing, as well as continuing to entertain viewers year round!

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