Female stunt driver reveals Hollywood's biggest secrets from 'challenge' of being lit on fire to 'high stakes' of stunts | The Sun
CRAZY car chases, being set on fire and jumping off buildings.
Zandara Kennedy certainly leads a life less ordinary as one of Hollywood's most prominent stuntwomen.
And the Canadian daredevil has given The U.S. Sun a fascinating, and terrifying, insight into the dangers and excitement of her crazy, adrenaline fueled day job.
Zandara specializes in stunt driving and later this year will compete in Formula Drift, the world championships of drifting – a driving style which the driver uses the throttle, brakes, clutch, gear shifting and steering to keep the car in a state of oversteer while spectacularly sliding around the corners.
She calls it the 'figure skating' of motorsport. Fire stunts are also a specialty.
Drifting is her focus right now – but her resume is bursting with film and TV appearances on the likes of X-Men, Deadpool and Fear The Walking Dead.
She has also stunt doubled for stars like Anne Heche, Uma Thurman and Gillian Anderson to name but a few.
After breaking her arm as a 14 year-old performing circus stunts, Zandara set her sights on the entertainment industry.
At 19, she attended the Motion Picture Driving Clinic founded by legendary stuntman Rick Seaman and got her first big break working on a Stephen Segal movie being filmed in her native Canada.
It's not easy to get a break, especially with the stakes so high – but Zandara aced it.
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"It's a big leap of faith for a stunt coordinator to hire someone to do something," she said.
Not all productions have massive budgets so the pressure is on to get it right first time around. There's only so many cars someone can smash up in a day.
"It's one thing to know how to do something technically and maybe be able to do it with a couple of tries, but we don't really have that luxury on a film set," she continued.
"And then of course, you're hiring a person. You want to know that they're going to do the job immediately , get it in the first take, because time is money.
"A lot of times we only build one or or two of an item as well. If you're supposed to crash into a florist or something, you only have so many resets and each one costs money."
Zandara has no problem with hurling herself of a roof or building, either.
But surely, even a professional stuntwoman must get scared?
The key, she says, is not to overthink anything.
"Obviously we think about the details when we're planning how to make it safe, but any amount of kind of rumination beyond that kind of can really easily turn towards anxiety," said Zandara.
"For me and for many of the performance that I know, we sort of manage that stress by just existing adjacent to it, but not repeatedly focusing on what we're gonna have to do until we can actually do it and have something to do."
Cars are her strong suit – Zandara is also a mechanic who works on her own rides – and has perfected how to crash safely.
It may all be part of the job – but it still hurts.
"You know it's coming, but you have to pretend it isn't," she said of the mental approach taken.
"Being T-boned are definitely the worst. It's just not a way your body likes to move. Those have always been the least pleasant for me."
Funnily enough, setting yourself on fire also requires incredible mental strength and focus.
"The first one is definitely shocking," she recalls.
"There's something very primal about how your brain reacts to fire. My first fire burn was in training, so it wasn't as big of a deal.
"But you are moving a lot faster than you think. I find the biggest challenge with fire is slowing your brain down enough to extend it because often you'll finish the action before you actually get hot."
Zandara's friend and fellow fire stunt person Colin Decker is the world record holder for the longest ever full-body burn – a quite incredible three minutes and 27 burning from head to toe.
She's not ready to follow his lead but will never shy away from anything.
"I have always loved pushing my own physical limits,"she said.
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