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Body Doubles Are Asking for a Leg Up, Creditwise

April 11, 1993|KEN ELLINGWOOD

Shawn Lusader has bared it all on the movie screen--all except her face. That would be going too far.

The 32-year-old actress is one of a small corps of Hollywood body doubles--sculpted movie extras hired to flash a little on-camera flesh in place of modest stars. It was Lusader, not Anne Archer, prancing nude during a pivotal bedroom scene in "Body of Evidence." But you'd never know it from the screen credits or the talk-show circuit.

She's out to change that.

"They give credit to the dog by the fire hydrant," Lusader said. "But there's nothing for the body double whatsoever."

Body doubles are among Hollywood's least-publicized bits of fakery, used anonymously since the silent-film era. Besides baring completely for love scenes, doubles lend body parts--legs are a favorite--for limited shots and movie posters, or when it's cheaper than bringing in the star for shots that don't need a face.

Now Lusader and colleagues have launched a public campaign to get recognition and better working terms for body doubles.

Anne Bancroft's bedroom scenes in "The Graduate"? Sorry, that was a body double. Another double filled in for Jane Fonda during lovemaking scenes with Jon Voight in "Coming Home." Ditto for Angie Dickinson's shower scene in "Dressed to Kill." More recently, body doubles have stood in for Demi Moore, Kim Basinger, Kevin Costner and Julia Roberts.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday April 13, 1993 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 4 Column 6 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Body double-- Model Amy Rochelle says she never claimed to appear in the bedroom scenes of the movie "Indecent Proposal," contrary to a story in Sunday's Calendar ("Body Doubles Are Asking for a Leg Up"). As a body double for Demi Moore, Rochelle appears in the movie's still photography.

"The industry uses body doubles because they get away with paying them a measly buyout, while the stars get to build entire careers and bank accounts on the nude and provocative scenes they supposedly do. . . . We're protecting them, but who's protecting us?" asked Lusader, who made $700 for three days' work in "Body of Evidence."

Lusader, a former gymnast who body doubles to pay the bills while hunting bigger roles, started organizing the Body of Doubles group last year.

The last straw came in January when Archer led television viewers to believe she did the nude scene in "Body of Evidence," starring Madonna. ( She didn't use a double.) When asked about the nudity during an interview on the "Today" show, Archer laughed and replied: "I hit 40, and boy, the last three movies--sex scenes, sex scenes, sex. I don't know. Life's changing. What can I tell you? Forty is wonderful."

Lusader was taken aback: "Watching Anne take the credit for what I did--I didn't think it would bother me as much as it did. I was like, I don't believe this. Here she is advancing her career with my work."

Archer's publicist flatly refused to say a word on the matter. But "Body of Evidence" producer Stephen Deutsch acknowledged that a double was used in the scene--at Archer's request.

Most recently body double Amy Rochelle has said that it was her body in the bedroom footage with Woody Harrelson in "Indecent Proposal." But Demi Moore says it was all her, and that she worked out five hours a day to be in shape for the steamy scenes.

Body doubles argue that they are treated only as glorified extras--paid as low as $90 a day--when they say their work is more like that of specialists such as stunt performers, who are classified as principal performers. Doubling can pay well, though. Shelley Michelle said she made about $2,000 to slip on stockings while dangling from a hoist as Kim Basinger's double in "My Stepmother Is an Alien."

Principal performers, anyone with a speaking part or other distinguishing role, earn a minimum of $466 a day and are paid residuals as the movie is resold, according to Screen Actors Guild spokesman Mark Locher.

Body of Doubles, which has sought SAG's backing for the nascent campaign, wants those benefits, health and safety protections--and credits.

Deutsch considers the whole issue a tempest in a teapot. "It's silliness," he said. "Movies are an illusion."

Even some body doubles are skeptical.

"To me it was just a way to get in the back door," said Jeff Rector, who said he has snagged a few small speaking roles in the course of his work as a body double and off-camera stand-in for Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Richard Gere and Tom Cruise.

"There's no way Hollywood's going to give body doubles a credit," Rector said. "It's a day's work. Be happy you're working."

It's work with unique perils. Auditions to match body types often mean stripping in front of perfect strangers, posing for snapshots that end up who knows where. Ellyn Dawn Humphreys says she deserved stunt pay for a scene in which she rode in a speeding car as Linda Hamilton's film double in "Terminator 2."

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