Burning Questions for Jason “Jay” Bell of ARROW, THE FLASH and STAR TREK BEYOND (Part 1)

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No, your eyes are not fooling you in the photo.  The faces above are not exactly the same faces that you see on THE FLASH and ARROW.  Those are the stunt performers who do the “ballet to sound effects” performed so brilliantly each week.  To the far left is Jay Bell, doubling Robbie Amell’s Firestorm.

Jay is a stunt double, stunt performer, actor and motion capture performer who has worked on such stunt-intensive television shows as THE FLASH, ARROW, SUPERNATURAL and the upcoming LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, as well as feature films X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, STAR TREK BEYOND and THE A-TEAM.

Jay Bell Afghanistan

A former active duty soldier, Afghanistan veteran, musician, composer and father, Jay was kind enough to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer our burning questions about stunt work, broken bones and some of our favorite shows!

Related: Read part 2 and part 3 of our interview with Jay Bell

THE TV ADDICT: You have worked on some of the most stunt-packed shows on television and top-grossing films.  What is the hardest part about being a stunt performer?

JAY BELL That’s a good question.  The hardest thing about being a stuntman, in my opinion, is the physicality of the job. The longer you do it, the more it takes a toll on your body.

Jay Bell rock climbing copy

When you’re constantly being thrown through the ringer… physically…it definitely catches up faster than you think.  I’ve torn all of the ligaments in both ankles, broken my nose and separated my right shoulder multiple times.

In my mind, though, whatever injuries you incur over the span of your career are worth it because it’s one of the coolest jobs you can possibly have.

Jay Bell Firestorm

TVA: Do you do a lot of work with CGI and what is most interesting about it?

Now that TV and film have become so reliant on CGI to fill in the gaps, I’ve had plenty of opportunities.  In my experience, CGI has brought energy and life to the characters for the viewers to enjoy at home.

I doubled Robbie Amell last season on THE FLASH as “Firestorm.”  His character is a superhero on the show whose body lights up on fire.

I got to do a lot of the action for that character.  I got so excited every time I had an opportunity to “flame on” and pretend like I’m calling upon this awesome force and become this badass human fireball.

It was the same with Hawkman on LEGENDS OF TOMORROW.  I got to pretend I’m sprouting these huge angel-like wings from my back as if I were some demigod, whether I was on a wire flying around or sweeping a bad guy’s legs out with one wing.  CGI is very cool to work with and even cooler when you get to see the finished product.

TVA: What is the hardest part about keeping your face away from the camera?

That can be a tough one to pull off.   Sometimes, the camera is pointing directly at your face during your action, so you definitely have to be creative on how to sell a movement, whether its a simple punch or doing wire work.

If the director does not want your face seen, you have to be sure it’s not seen.  A lot of times, you would typically sell a hit away from camera.

TVA: Did you ever forget to duck (sorry, I had to ask, LOL)?

mmm…..yes….It sucked, and I was totally embarrassed.   But, it sold well to the camera!

TVA: How many parts can you double on one project?

As many as the Coordinator/Director wants.  One of my close friends who works on ARROW as a lead double has doubled 8-10 different characters on that single production.

It also depends if you’re a full-time double for one of the main characters or just for an actor for that particular episode.  If you’re unavailable or have too much on your plate, most of the time they’ll try and find another performer with your particulars and skillset to fill in for you.

TVA: As a stuntman, you are required to act as well as throw a punch.  Could you tell us a little more about that?

Almost every single one of my acting credits has been a Stunt/Actor Credit.

I still have to go through the audition process like any actor would, but in these cases they typically want a stunt performer who they know can throw out some lines with no problem as well as do the actual stunt.

It’s a lot of fun, as I tend to get really into character, even with one line.

TVA: What is your specialty, e.g. horses, fire, cars, hand-to-hand?

For me it’s definitely hand-to-hand and fighting.  I have a background in Muay Thai and Taekwondo so that style of stunts comes more naturally to me.

I’d love to get into more driving/motorcycle style of stunts but most of those guys have been in the business for 20+ years and have earned those coveted spots with skill and time in.  Someday, though!

TVA: Do you take acting and dance lessons in addition to strength training or boxing or have you learned how to act on set?

I’ve literally taken one acting class in my life.  Everything else I’ve learned regarding acting has been by watching other actors on set and how they portray their characters.  I think it’s better than any acting class you can take and you get to see an array of different styles.

You can also read part 2 and part 3 of our interview with Bell.