Petra Sprecher is a stunt professional in Hollywood. She appeared with Charlize Theron in the 2005 science fiction film “Aeon Flux” and with Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report” in 2002. Or not. Because the job of a stuntwoman is to remain unrecognized. She wants to change that for herself.
Petra Sprecher earns up to $2,000 a day for her stunt jobs – normally. She is currently keeping herself afloat financially by dog sitting.
From July to November, the US actors union SAG-AFTRA went on strike for better conditions. During this time there were no film shoots – and therefore no work for stuntmen and stuntwomen. At least that will change soon.
Fall, fly, beat up
As a stuntwoman with 20 years of experience, Petra is not only an incorrigible optimist, but – logically – also tough. Countless men and significantly fewer women allow themselves to be pushed down stairs, flown over roofs, run over by cars or simply beaten professionally and on behalf of the stars.
Women mostly in the victim role
Stunt women are seen in pure victim roles much more often than men. The Swiss documentary filmmaker Elena Avdija demonstrated this impressively last year with “Cascadeuses” (the French word for stunt women). Her witnesses in front of the camera were Petra Sprecher and three French colleagues.
While stunt men take on the physical heroic role of the male stars, the stunt women in film and television crime films remain primarily victim roles: rape, being beaten, stabbed, strangled or even run over.
Beginnings in the circus
But Petra Sprecher wasn’t thinking about that when she gave up her trapeze job at Cirque du Soleil to embark on an adventure as a stuntwoman in Los Angeles. After giving her Swiss childhood in Aesch BL a little more adventure (and a lot of exercise), she made it to Cirque du Soleil via the Basel youth circus Basilisk, which is still very active today.
Petra Sprecher doesn’t like to sit still, neither actually nor biographically. So she prescribed the next metamorphosis for herself in Los Angeles. Your next goal is to be able to appear with your own face and show feelings instead of just elegantly covering up pain. That’s why she’s now taking acting lessons.
The show must go on
Getting older is also a challenge for stunt people. But for Petra Sprecher, karma is much more important than counting years. After all her years in LA, she remains fascinated by Hollywood’s glitz and glamor, even if she sometimes thinks it’s just the proverbial carrot in front of the donkey’s nose.
The show must go on. Petra Sprecher knows: she is part of it.
The documentary film “Cascadeuses – Stuntwomen” by Elena Avdija is available on Play Suisse.