Former Suffolk student’s explosive big screen career as stunt performer
- Credit: Archant
He’s appeared in some of the biggest movies and TV shows of the last few years – but when former Suffolk student Anthony Skrimshire is doing his job well, you won’t even notice him on screen.
The 26-year-old stunt performer, who grew up in Woodbridge, recently stood in to take the hits (and dole them out) for Mark Strong in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new action/comedy, Grimsby.
But what seems like a dream job – and became Mr Skrimshire’s career after leaving Farlingaye High School – isn’t always filled with glamour and excitement.
“It’s all about safety,” he said. “Of course, it’s not uncommon to do some stunts that are big and fantastical, but our bread and butter is taking hits and doing falls.
“If people can’t tell it’s me, I’ve done my job properly. It can be a bit thankless in terms of credit, but that’s OK – I’m not really after that kind of attention.”
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To become a stunt performer, Mr Skrimshire had to get a place on the stunt register by mastering numerous skills and completing a series of tough tests.
He now lives in Clapham, London, having moved from Suffolk following completion of his training.
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“I really did it all of my own volition,” he said. “It’s difficult to get into, but it can be done if you really want it.
“I got into karate at 13 but never thought about being in TV or film. I first dared to think of it as a career at about 16. Until then, I hadn’t really been exposed to the idea, despite watching lots of kung fu movies.
“I was all set to do engineering at university when I decided to give it a shot. I thought that investing too much time in a ‘plan b’ would be like contemplating failure.”
Mr Skrimshire’s latest film, Grimsby, sees Cohen play Nobby Butcher, a simple-minded football fan who goes on the run with his long-lost secret agent brother, Sebastian (Strong).
But even after securing such a big film credit, the competitive nature of the industry means he isn’t tempted to sit back and rest on his laurels.
“I was lucky enough to get a big job doubling for a main actor,” he said.
“At times, I’ve been months without work – that’s the hardest bit. I just have to be constructive with my time and keep training.
“Some people are unfortunate and have to stop performing – others keep going into their 60s and 70s. By that stage I would hope to be coordinating the stunts.”
As well as Grimsby, Anthony Skrimshire has performed stunts in films including The Theory Of Everything (doubling for Eddie Redmayne), The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Hercules, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Patient Zero.
His television credits include Game Of Thrones, Jamaica Inn, The Game, Casualty and 24: Live Another Day.
Most of the action for Grimsby was shot on location in South Africa.
Mr Skrimshire can be seen doubling for Mark Strong’s character, Sebastian, in an underwater car escape, jumping from an exploding building and in one breathtaking set-piece in which he clambered beneath a moving lorry.
“That was challenging,” he said. “I had to get from on top of the lorry to the cabin, then onto the bumper and underneath, before being dragged along for a bit.
“I hit myself on a metal bar on the way down. I was attached to ropes so it wasn’t a huge risk, but I was a bit spooked.”