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Taking a bullet or a flying leap is all in a day's work

January 24, 2008|Margaret Wappler

FOR most of us, a rough day on the job might mean getting chewed out by the boss, but does it include falling off a horse? Or jumping off a building? Or taking a rubber bullet in the gut? Nope, didn't think so.

Those are just a few of the assignments stuntman Bobby Hoy endured over the 50-plus years he was in the business, working on Blake Edwards films and dozens of TV shows. On Tuesday, Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre will host Hoy and several other notable stuntmen, including Tom Morga, Erik Cord and Walt Robles, for a discussion and screening of the 1980 feature "The Stunt Man," directed by Richard Rush, who will also be there. Count on hearing some gnarly stories from the stuntmen's careers, such as when Hoy broke his ankle and leg on the "Magnum, P.I." set.

"I was hanging upside down on a harness," Hoy recalls. "I was supposed to be an FBI agent. I had to do a stunt off of a telephone poll and I didn't tug hard enough, so I got caught on something, and that was it. My leg and ankle broke right there."

Was he gunshy about his next stunt? "I recovered and got back to work," the former Marine remembers. "I didn't think twice about it. That's just part of the business."

"The thing you have to remember as a director is that stuntmen will kill themselves if you let them," Rush says. "Most of the time, it's your job as a director to push your actors, but with stuntmen, you've got to hold them back."

That daredevil energy fed into Rush's movie, Oscar-nominated for writing, direction and Peter O'Toole as best actor. The plot centers on Steve Railsback, a fugitive hiding from the law by serving as a stuntman for director O'Toole, who might also be his assassin.

As Rush explains it, "The Stunt Man" is a movie-within-a-movie that examines our tenuous, sometimes paranoid relationship with reality -- a heady concept to be sure, but leavened with plenty of jumps, crashing into buildings and even a Duesenberg spinning off a bridge, all pulled off by the 60 or so stuntmen, including Hoy, whom Rush had in his crew.

Although Hoy, now retired, says he gladly jeopardized his life plenty of times for his work, he didn't want to die on set, not if he could help it.

"I had one director ask me if I'd jump from a 12-story building," he says. "I thought about it for a moment and then I looked at him and said, 'You'll have to get all 500 members of your crew to push me off the roof, you son of a . . . !' "

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-- Margaret.Wappler@latimes.com

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STUNTMAN APPRECIATION

NIGHT

WHERE: Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday

PRICE: $10

INFO: (323) 655-2520, silentmovietheatre.com

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