Stunt Performer Spotlight: Antonio Cortes
Updated: Feb 16
Tell about yourself and stunts, Antonio!
My first (non union) stunt was when I was a baby. My mom exited the apartment to throw out the trash and I followed behind in my walker unknowing to her. She went right and I went left down a flight of stairs.
The sound of me wheeling down the stairs startled her and nearly gave her a heart attack. When she looked down the bottom of the stairs, there I was...smiling. I grew up as a hyperactive youth that couldn’t sit still for too long and that still holds true to this day.
My parents did all they could to exhaust me from enrolling me in a local gymnastics class at 5 years old to taking me Shotokan karate lessons. My father was a Pro-Wrestler and that’s what changed my life in setting me up for this path. When he opened up a Pro-Wrestling school I studied under him for over 10 years from the age of 12.
I’ve also trained for years in boxing, Goshin Ju-Jitsu and now the past 8 years traveling to Thailand to study Muay Thai. Though these arts are beneficial skills to have I will always attribute any success in this journey to my Pro-Wrestling background.
The theatrics, falls, choreo memorization, precision, intensity and pace were the perfect foundational skills that helped in my transition into training to become a stunt performer.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
It’s probably the same for most people but it was Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee that were my biggest inspirations. As that hyperactive kid I grew up watching and mimicking these movies.
I had no idea what a coordinator or choreography even meant at the time but I had this sketch book and would draw out entire scenes with notes, which to this day I still have. I’d conjure up elaborate fights sequences all over the apartment, going so far as to stealing my mothers make up and lipstick to paint bruises and “Enter The Dragon” claw marks on my face and body.
Actually I was pretty good at it. I’d rip up my white Fruit Of The Loom tanks and smear them with lipstick blood and fight off a plethora of imaginary bad guys all by my lonesome.
I’d tear things up to which I may or may not have accidentally shattered a large living room mirror with a great kick and punctured hundreds of holes into the wooden frame of my bed with ninja stars that got me grounded.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
I wouldn’t say I have any one particular great skill. If I had to pick any abilities that describe me as a performer id say my tired-less work ethic, meticulous obsession with the human anatomies movement, and masochistic regimen of repetition.
I love training and the entire process of preparing for this industry. Perhaps it’s genetic or instilled in me through my trainings but I can be on set or train for hours on end and enjoy every second of it.
As far any physical skill I do love me a lengthy, stylized martial arts sequence, big twisty wrecks and being tossed around on wires.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
The best part of being a stunt performer is being amongst like minded people.
Wether you’re a musician, painter or stunt performer I enjoy the company of others who share the same productive lifestyle, interests and passions.
You can nerd out discussing your favorite fight scenes and they get you.
On set it’s the excitement of never being in the same office doing the same mundane task. You’re constantly being challenged.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
I don’t know if I qualify to give any lifelong words of wisdom as I’ve only been in this space for a few years, but the advice I give myself is to never be complacent.
You’re dedicating your time to be proficient in various skills you may never use, and if you do it’s probably for a fraction of the time you spent training them.
It’s about being focused and ready for anything because this profession is just too high risk to lose sight of that.
Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story!
My all time favorite stunt story would have to be how I finally got into SAG. I was in London with 3 more days to my trip, I was sightseeing admiring the last British tea ship when I got a call for an amazing opportunity to do a full fire burn on a TV show.
I had been training for a year and a half to finally get to this point but the rehearsal was the very next day. I guess it’s true when they say “If you want to get booked go on a vacation”.
I accepted the job, hung up the phone and immediately booked the first flight available. I went to my Airbnb, packed my suitcase and at 10pm that night flew back to NYC and made the rehearsal the following morning. My round trip ticket was less than the cost of returning that night, but needless to say it was worth it.
I made that money back, got to be apart of something i’ve dreamt of as a kid, got into SAG and can honestly say that I was literally thrown into the fire to join this biz.