Stunt Performer Spotlight: Austin Countryman
Tell about yourself and your story, Austin!
My name is Austin Countryman. I was born in Woodland Hills CA. I was always a rambunctious kid even from a very young age. I always loved sports and was always trying to find ways to be active outside. Even a simple game of tag or capture the flag could keep me going for hours.
As a result, my parents enrolled me in little league and martial arts from the age of five. With school, however, I could really only do one so I decided to play baseball. I played for six years until I got to Junior High. It was then however that I decided to go back to martial arts. I had been teased for a few years in elementary school and Junior High was even worse so I thought it would be a good idea to learn to defend myself. This is when I met Master Simon Rhee. I fell in love with training again and it was great to have a real master in my life. Over the next few years, I kept training and achieved my black belt status. I was now quite a bit older and looking to move on to the next frontier.
I had always loved cars and racing but could never afford to do them competitively. Throughout my childhood, my dad had always collected cars and loved working on them. He would spend hours in the garage whenever he could get away from work to polish, wire, sand, or forge something. The first time he took me out to race track and let me ride shotgun in his race car I was 3 years old. I fell in love with racing immediately.
My parents' marriage had been rocky since I was a kid and they seemed to always be in an on-again-off-again kind of relationship. Working on cars was his escape from the stress in a way. It was now for my sixteenth birthday that my parents surprised me by taking me to racing school. I did so well that my dad decided to buy me my first go-kart. I immediately started training and was super excited. Getting up to speed was difficult but I enjoyed the challenge so I kept at it. After my first season, I was competitive and was really doing quite well. I have many good finishes in several different series as well as winning a championship. I still wasn't satisfied, however, and I wanted to learn everything I could about driving in general.
It was at this point unfortunately that the team I was racing for dismantled. With no other options, I decided to go to college. After several years and some very tough times I graduated but was having trouble finding a job. It was then out of nowhere that I met Tom Harper; an accomplished stunt driver in Hollywood. He said he could help me.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
Even as a kid driving has always been a dream of mine so any chance I could get to be a racing or stunt driver I wanted to do it.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
Driving for sure. And yes, racing and cars were a big part of my life ever since I was a kid. It was one of the main things that my dad and I bonded over when I was growing up.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
Being able to do what I love and also being able to depend on my own skills.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
Just keep at it. You never know what is going to happen.