Tell about life before stunts.
My name is Christian Brunetti, I am a single father of two and US Army veteran. I spent 9 years in the military, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division as an airborne infantryman before transitioning to Psychological Operations, where I worked for 7 years.
While in the military, I began training in various martial arts, and competed in both jiu jitsu tournaments and mixed martial arts, winning championships in both.
Following my time in the Army, I was fortunate enough to get work on ARMY WIVES as an assistant to the military adviser, Chad Gleaton, for season 6. I took over as the full time military adviser on season 7.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
My work on ARMY WIVES was my first exposure to the world of tv and film, and by extension to stunts. During season 7, there was a huge battle scene that involved a firebase being overrun. I had trained the actors extensively in weapons handling and the Army hand-to-hand system known as combatives, and got to see them work with Cal Johnson, the stunt coordinator for the show, and his team of performers in bringing this massive battle to life.
It was a scene of controlled chaos, with every department working in coordination to create this living, breathing battle. The key moment when Jesse Mccartney’s character snaps and has to fight hand to hand with insurgents could not have been done with the intensity necessary without the oversight and work of the stunt coordinator and stunt double.
As some one who grew up in the eighties and nineties, and in love with movies ranging from ROBOCOP to BLACK HAWK DOWN and ROCKY, the chance to blend my real life skills with the ability to make movies was a dream come true. In that moment, I knew I had found a direction for the next chapter of my life.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
My greatest skill as a stunt performer isn’t necessarily a physical attribute. Anything I can do physically, there are dozens of others who can do it just as well if not better. The truth is we are in an industry filled with incredibly talented people, from Olympic athletes to professional fighters, to former tier one military assets. Even when I was fighting, I didn’t have one particular skill that I was excellent at.
Where I did excel, and is one of my greatest assets, is my special operations background. In special operations, everyone has their specific specialty, but we are also cross trained in everyone else’s job so that we can be an asset to the team whenever needed.
I carry that methodology over into my new career. I don’t need to be an expert in every field, I have my four or five main strengths, but I make sure I am familiar with other performers skill sets that I can be an asset no matter what the situation.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
One of the best part about being a stunt performer is the ability to tell stories that resonate with people. There is something unique about action sequences that people connect with different than anything else.
We connect with the hero’s struggle, we identify with their pain and suffering, we mourn their loses and cheer their victories in a way that I don’t think is possible with narratives that don’t involve physical conflict or danger. If anyone wonders whether or not this is true - the top 100 grossing movies of all times either heavily involve stunts or are animated features.
The other best part about being a stunt performer? The community. Hands down. I've been fortunate enough to be mentored and befriended by some of the best human beings imaginable.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
To borrow a quote from ROCKY, this career isn’t “all sunshine and rainbows”, though. If you find yourself wanting to pursue stunts, know that it will be humbling, challenging, and at times, seemingly impossible. The times on set, the work I get paid for, is the reward for the days and weeks and months grinding away from the camera. Be prepared for a journey that will push you and test you at every turn.
It requires dedication and discipline and hard work, and the ability to stay focused no matter what goes wrong or how long it takes to succeed. The moment I started truly enjoying my down times, and embraced them as opportunities to better myself and have fun trying new skills and get better at my existing skill set, is the moment I really started to see myself grow professionally.
Have fun, train hard, and stunt safe!