THE DEFENDERS: A Word With Chris Brewster On The Usung Heroes Behind The Heroes
So, as many of you know, The Defenders has premiered on Netflix and from what I can gather on social media, it has been well received. Of course people will find issues with the show as they do most shows, but I have to be honest, I truly enjoyed it. So much in fact I decided to do a follow up interview with Daredevil stunt double Chris Brewster.
Chris Brewster: Oh man! My wife and I have been given the most amazing gift in the world. Our daughter, Cayden, is absolutely amazing. Talk about a life-changer! She was born right in the middle of shooting The Defenders. She was actually due the week that we filmed the huge episode-three action sequence, but decided to wait until the first day of the Holiday break. I was able to spend the first 3 or 4 weeks with Isabelle and Cayden. It was perfect! I could literally write a book on how amazing parenthood has been for us. We are so happy.
CB: Having a family definitely puts everything into perspective. Especially in the light of all the accidents happening on set lately. There are way too many things going wrong, because people rush and bad choices are made. This is a game of calculated risk. We all like to push it, and welcome the bumps and bruises along the way; but the goal is to leave work every day, and go home to our families. Now, that I have a family, I try to surround myself with people that I like and trust. A good stunt team looks out for each other every step of the way.
CB: Working long hours, makes me appreciate every single minute that I get with my wife and our daughter. I've really grown to embrace the tiniest things, like watching TV and ordering takeout, or just hiking around the neighborhood. I try to never bring work home, so that I can be completely present when I'm with the people that matter the most!
CB: [laughs] Glad you’re still using your imagination. I’m sure it helps when you’re on set also.
CB: Ha! I am a very healthy eater, but I believe that balance and treating yourself are parts of a healthy diet. I eat pizza, and sweets, but I try to fill myself up with a lot of good fuel. I think most people suffer from two big mistakes; lack of hydration and not consuming enough vegetables. I try to drink 1-2 gallons of water a day, and eat vegetables with every meal and every snack.
CB: It doesn’t.
CB: Me too! I'm a little biased, but I've been looking forward to The Defenders since the first season of Daredevil. I get some amazing opportunities to work on these shows, but I am a big fan of each show and all of the actors. Defenders brought together some of the coolest heroes, and villains I've ever seen.
CB: You would not believe how much Charlie actually does. He's incredibly athletic, and gifted at picking up choreography. He has learned entire fight scenes a day or two before filming, then gone in and crushed it on camera. There were a few times, where out of nowhere, he threw a move that most of the stunt team couldn't throw.
CB: All the actors on The Defenders were game to do a lot of the action. They were all in the stunt warehouse with the rest of us, kicking and punching. They rode wires, and did some really good stunts. It was very impressive.
CB: Our team has always been very adamant about bringing the actors into the action design. Choreography is just the skeleton of the fight scene. Each actor adds their own "body" to it. When we are able to join the two together, it creates something really amazing. Since the first episode of Daredevil, Charlie has brought me into his world. He has taught me so much about Matt Murdock, Daredevil, every scene that we work on, and acting as a whole. That's why on Daredevil, a punch is never just a punch. Every move tells a story.
CB: Are you kidding? Sigourney is a legend. It was such an honor just being on the same set as her. And she is such a sweet and wonderful person.
CB: Matt and I have been very good friends for over a decade. We grew up training martial arts together; we toured the world doing live shows and events. We are pretty much brothers. I knew pretty early on, that Matt was our new coordinator; and I was stoked. I knew Matt would push the limits, create some amazing stuff, and keep all of us safe.
[SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen the show yet, which makes no sense to me, but if you haven’t watched it, take caution because we are going to talk about the show now.]
CB: One of my favorite things about my job, is I get paid to play around. Some days, I feel like a kid at recess. Most parkour days are like that. We scout a location, and basically run around jumping and flipping from one object to another. When we find something cool, we film it and show it to the director. The art department always helps enhance a scene, by adding objects to propel off, or flip over.
ESW: What is a typically day of training for you and the actors for the action per week? Did you guys just work on the choreography or did you have full on training sessions?
CB: We start every day with full on training. We warm up, run some basic techniques, hit the heavy bag, do some crossfit style high intensity interval training... then we get into the choreography, and rehearsals. As stunt performers, we challenge our bodies and put them to the test quite often. We all believe that part of our job is staying as strong, sharp, and resilient as possible.
CB: When there isn't time to rest in bed, you learn to work through most injuries. I don't believe that rest is even good for most injuries. Mobility and range of motion are so important. We try to be smart, by bracing any area that is weakened, and avoiding things that could agitate an injury. The key is preventative maintenance. Stretching, mobility, and staying fit will help avoid a lot of injuries.
CB: Honestly, there were no injuries all season! That is incredible, considering the amounts of fights and stunts that we did. Matt Mullins and James Hutchison deserve some serious credit, because they kept us all safe.
CB: Tell me about it. He’s a great guy.
CB: Absolutely. I love coordinating, but I still love performing. I take some coordinating gigs, but my focus is still on the fun stuff. I am trying to learn as much as I can along the way, so that when I decide to pull the trigger and become a full time coordinator, I will be ready. I have had some incredible stunt coordinators who took me under their wings and guided me along the way. I want to follow in all of their footsteps and make them all proud.
CB: It's hard to pick a favorite fight, but I really enjoyed the DD/Iron Fist fight. It was a nice change of pace, because there was no good guy and bad guy. This was more like two brothers arguing through punches. I loved the energy and character that Charlie and Finn brought into it.
CB: There was no pressure on The Defenders, because we didn't have to compete against ourselves. We had the best parts of all of the shows, all together. That being said, we always want to go bigger and bigger. Every show is a new chance to raise the bar and do something better.
CB: [laughs] I absolutely agree. That song was perfect.
CB: This is different on any show. Sometimes doubles are picked because they look very similar to an actor, or they have the same sizes. Sometimes, the actor needs to do a very specific stunt, so they need a double that is an expert in that category. Each coordinator has their own style. Some coordinators pick the person they think is the closest match for what they need. Others will make a list of all the potential doubles, and let the director chose. There are even stunt auditions for some shows, so that the coordinator can line everybody up next to the actor and see who works.
ESW: Well, I know you’re super busy. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to interview with me again.
CB: Thanks for having me again.
Lead photo: Terence Patrick (Variety)