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Full of drive on the comeback trail

Stuntman Jake Chambers, now recovered from a harrowing crash, is back following Dad's footsteps.

June 15, 2003|Lynn Smith | Times Staff Writer

Strangely enough, Jake said the accident turned out to be "the best agent I ever had. Everybody knew I was hurt. People to this day ask, 'How are you? How's your leg?' "

With a new titanium rod in his leg, a new girlfriend and a new perspective on life, he's back to his regular routine, playing hockey in a league once a week and working as much as he can. Last July, stunt coordinator John Medlen hired him to play a zombie on "Buffy the Vampire Slay- er," his first job after the crash. "I almost wanted to break down and cry, I was so grateful. It was amazing to be on the set working again," he said.

On the relatively low-budget production for the stunt awards, Chambers blended in with the other drivers as they repeated the toy car exercise and various stunts until 1 or 2 the next morning.

With a motorcycle camera following the action, Jake drove through the intersection for the fourth take. After a few nail-biting seconds of burning rubber and squealing tires, director David Ellis, a former stuntman himself, hollered, "That was beautiful. I can't thank you enough."


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Stunt performers

How many: 6,000 registered with the Screen Actors Guild.

Professional organizations: Stuntmen's Assn. of Motion Pictures, Brand X, Stunts Unlimited, International Stunt Assn., V10 (for women), among others.

Age range: 7 to 75

Estimated number of women: 25%.

Salary range: $40,000 annually for beginners; $300,000 with residuals; $700,000 for top stunt coordinators and second unit directors.

Estimated serious injuries: Two per year.

Estimated deaths: One every two years.

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