Tell about yourself and stunts, Alfred!
I grew up in the bay area in California. When I was a kid, my dad would rent Jackie Chan and Jet Li films for my brother and I to watch. We fell in love with action cinema and ultimately got into stunts.
I eventually moved down to West LA when I got accepted into UCLA. After college, I had a brief stint in the corporate life working at KPMG, but decided to quit to pursue my passion. In 2009 I made the US National Wushu Team and went to the World Championships representing the US. I was the first American male to win a gold medal at the World Wushu Championships.
Through a friend I was given the opportunity to interview to work for Jet Li. I was very surprised when I heard back and ultimately ended up with an offer letter. I had to pack my bags and move to Beijing on a moment's notice. I got to act, produce, double, and action design for Jet Li.
In 2014 I received an opportunity to be part of Jackie Chan’s team on the movie DRAGON BLADE. Working with Jackie Chan reignited my passion for action, stunts, and filmmaking in a whole new way! After that when I got back to LA I wanted nothing more than to put my all into my stunt work and create great memorable action scenes.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
Jackie Chan would be my greatest inspiration when it comes to stunt work and action cinema, but at the time he was so far away and so out of reach I never really considered stunt work as a profession when I was young. It wasn’t until college when I was competing at some local tournaments I met a fellow martial artist and competitor, Robbie Alexander, who one day asked me if I wanted to help out on a show.
That show turned out to be CSI: NY where I worked for stunt coordinator Norman Howell. We had a scene with Gary Sinise who was a cool guy. I discovered the world of crafty that day. I also found you could do what you love and get paid.
I was still in college at the time so it would be many years later before I went full-time into stunts, but that was the first experience that truly got the gears going thinking that this could be a real thing. There were other events that stacked on top of each other, but that one definitely was impactful.
A few years after the CSI: NY gig, Robbie also called me in to help with the Spy Next Door demo at the Grove where I got to meet Jackie Chan for the first time.
It was brief, but an absolute dream come true… so I want to take a moment and thank Robbie for both those great opportunities! A few years after that it would be Jackie Chan himself that ignited a flame under me to give it my all in stunts.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
When I worked on DRAGON BLADE, Jackie’s stunt double told me, a huge part of his job is just acting. Sometimes in a long take with a lot of action beats you have to know what to do in-between the choreography. That’s where the acting comes in.
Some of the JC stunt team jokingly say he moves more like Jackie than Jackie! As a stunt double you have to become the character and embody the role as well.
I’ve always been a fan of performance as a whole.
When I was taking after school martial arts classes in elementary school I was equally involved in school plays. When I signed up for my first wushu school, I was also in my high school drama club. When I was choreographing for Jet Li in China I also found time to enroll in the Beijing Film Academy. Those two areas have supported and complemented each other.
Now when I double someone or if I am asked to play stunt roles with dialogue I feel very comfortable. I think it also carries through when I am designing choreography because the more you can get in the character’s head the more the choreography almost reveals itself through the character’s choices.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
I love the camaraderie you build on set. I think being with great people and having an awesome team is one of the best feelings.
I love that it feels like you’re all part of a tight community all working with a common goal in mind. After you finish a project you all have the finished product to serve as a memory of your time spent together.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
I don’t think there’s one piece of universal advice I could give that applies to all stunt people because everyone’s goals and situation might differ. I’ll just share what I've learned and has helped me.
1) Find a group of people you really connect with and train with them. Train in terms of working out, but also film together because then you’ll be applying your training on camera.
2) Do your best to learn in all areas of the stunt industry, but hone in and become very strong in at least one area.
3) Always be honest with yourself and others. Always be honest with what you can and can’t do. You should be able to replicate a move take after take in order to consider it camera ready in a professional setting.
Anything else you would like to tell the community about?
Thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had. Thankful for all the great people I’ve met along the way.
There’s only so much we can do as individuals, so let’s continue to support one another and continue to grow.
Stunt Players: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/alfred-hsing/ Stunts Unlimited: https://directory.stuntsunlimited.com/profile/alfred-hsing/