Stunt Performer Spotlight: James Carr-Nelson

Featured Interview With Stunt Performer, James Carr-Nelson.

Tell about your background before stunts.

Born and raised in the bay area, I grew up training gymnastics and martial arts. Around the same time, my parents also got me started in acting, which I've continued professionally to this day.  I took a slight hiatus from acting to focus on school work, gaining my Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of California, at Berkeley.  Soon after, I rejoined the acting work force before finding Bay Area Stunts [] with Tony Vella a few years ago.

What inspired you to become a stunt person?

I believe it all started with a love for The Power Rangers and Spiderman, and me running around recreating scenes for my family (read: wreaking havoc).  At the age of 5, my parents put me in gymnastics and martial arts to tame my energy and learn some "real skills" instead of just copying the TV.  Fast forward 20 years and now I'm in a position to possibly inspire the next generation of kids with my stunts on screen!

What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?

My greatest skill as a performer is probably my ability to sell the stunt.  Alongside my years of gymnastics and martial arts, I also started professionally acting at a young age.  This combination of activities has led to a high level of body awareness and comfortability in the air, as well as a disciplined mind to understand and execute direction.

What is the best part about being a stunt performer?

There's something special about the group dynamics of a well-rehearsed stunt that seems to unload mass amounts of dopamine to my brain.  It's quite magical when all the pieces come together for a high speed, intense stunt.

Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story!

One of my most memorable stunt experiences was on set of 68 WHISKEY, but for something completely outside the control of the stunt team or anyone in production.

Most of us were at lunch when some started noticing huge clouds in the air, not too far from set.  Being that we're filming a military show based in Afghanistan, this didn't look too abnormal.  After all, maybe someone was practicing a practical effect.  Or maybe they were filming something with another team that didn't require certain cast or crew.

The scene began to look all too real as the sky filled more intensely with black smoke.  That's when we started to hear radios and catch word that giant fires had broken out dangerously close to where we were filming.  At that point, the production got completely shut down and evacuated for safety!

What advice would you give other stunt people?

Train, train, train the expecteds!  While specialty skills are fun and amazing to watch, nothing kills the look of a stunt scene quicker than a bad reaction or a poorly thrown punch.  We owe it to viewers to constantly stay on top of our craft.

Anything else you would like to tell the community about?

It's been awesome to see the stunt community coming together and creating great content and support for each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.  I've seen (and participated in) some great collaborative videos created remotely, Zoom workouts, and general support to help everyone stay healthy and sane!