Stunt Performer Spotlight: Krystle Martin

Featured Interview With Stunt Performer, Krystle Martin.

Tell about yourself, Krystle!

I’ve always been equal parts tomboy and girlie girl, I never wanted to take off my blue Cinderella dress as a kid but it ended up torn from climbing trees.  Flash forward to now… on a day off from shooting 911 in Mexico, I wore a new sundress to meet the guys at the beach, then ended up tying up the hem into makeshift shorts so I could join their impromptu game of football.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in a broken home with lots of love but not a lot of money or structure.  I didn’t have the benefit of gymnastics or martial arts training from a young age, so I try to make up for lost time now.

I was the oldest with a brother and sister to look after and always took being a role model for them (probably a little too) seriously.  I wanted to show them anything was possible, that we could break from the cycles we’d been born into.  We can steer away from addiction, we can go to school and get good grades, work and earn our own money, go to college, travel, and follow our dreams.

We are the architects of our own lives.  I’m still trying to set a good example for them, and myself.  I followed my dreams to LA; eleven years here and my heart still skips a beat when I turn a corner and see that iconic Hollywood sign.  I love the endless sunshine, beach, hiking, and Thai food and sushi!

I’m always striving to be the best person I can be and always learn new things, like how the heck to keep my houseplants alive.

What inspired you to become a stunt person?

While studying acting at both conservatory and university, I always had so much fun in the stage combat classes.  In fact, since I transferred in to UCLA, I had missed their combat class, usually taken Sophomore year, but I asked- begged really--Ed Monaghan, the instructor, to let me audit the class in addition to my full course load that quarter.

I’m so glad he said yes! I still didn’t plan on it becoming a career, but once I graduated, I stumbled upon the awesome playground that is Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, and suddenly had a whole bunch of stunt friends.  My friend Bob Chapin invited me to train in Bob Yerkes backyard, where I met even more stunties.

Stunt people were just COOL.  Playful, fearless, fun, outgoing, driven, and always seeking to better themselves.  I wanted to be like the cool kids!

After training for a couple years, I got cast in the touring stunt show, Marvel Universe Live. It was like stunt bootcamp!  Learning all variety of stunts, training every day, traveling the world, adapting to different environments, learning to work with all kinds of people… I grew so much as a performer and a human!

And I didn’t realize just how much I had learned until I came back to LA, and found auditions were much easier.  I soon got cast in more live shows and then TV and film.

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

Coming from acting has given me a huge leg up on how to collaborate with my actress and stay true to the character when I take over for a stunt.

It’s not just about fighting or falling, it’s about how does this character fight and fall? How does this character move?  Every fight scene tells a story and I think my acting background, understanding of character, and attention to detail help me to really sell those reactions in a believable way and tell that story.

Also, thanks to Action Horizons [] and my part in the Special Effects Show at Universal, I’ve now performed over 400 full-body fireburns.  It wasn't until I started getting calls from fellow stunties asking for advice that I realized I had quite a bit of knowledge I could share on the subject.  Especially for women. Don’t burn your hair off!  Not recommended.

What is the best part about being a stunt performer?

The people.  Now I get to be one of the cool kids too, haha!  And I’ve discovered that stunt people are also some of the most trustworthy, loyal, generous, and supportive friends you can have.  And we throw the best barbecues!

The thrill of it. The anticipation, adrenaline, and focus coursing through you right before “Go” and the pride and accomplishment you get to enjoy after they get the shot.

I also have an appreciation for the business side of it and it’s differences from the acting world.  While all performers face the difficulty and uncertainty of finding the next gig, it feels like stunt people have a degree more power and autonomy.

Whereas actors must depend on an agent to get them in a room for an audition, we stunties get to hustle and have a more direct line of contact with coordinators.

Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story!

While doubling Ronda Rousey on 911 for Greg Barnett, Brandon Melende, Matt Mullins and I were showing Ronda some potential choreo for a scene, the finale of which had me taking Brandon down with a flying armbar.

As we walked back to basecamp together, Ronda suggested I give her my contact information to keep on hand because, “people always ask me if I have someone, and now I can say I do.  And I like your fight stuff.”  It was a double whammy compliment!  I tried so hard to play it cool but inside I was jumping for joy and sing-yelling, “Ronda Rousey likes my fights! Holy Cow!  Did I just hear that?!  Am I dreaming?!  YES!!”

I think I managed to say something slightly more respectable like, “Well, coming from you that’s quite the compliment.  Thank you.”

What advice would you give other stunt people?

When you’re not working, be working.  Train skills, drill the basics - even as a veteran, stretch, take care of your body, you only have one.

Always be early, prepared, and ready at all times.  Help your friends, and the newbies—that was once you.  And BE KIND.  Be a good human AND a stunt professional.

Anything else you would like to tell the community about?

Amazon Games just released the video game I've been working on for the last couple years! It's called CRUCIBLE and it's a free-to-play team-based shooter for PC!  I did mocap for just about every female character in the game and I am so stoked to finally play it!