Stunt Performer Spotlight: Josh Fried

Tell about yourself, Josh!

My name is Josh Fried, I am from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.  I grew up playing and competing in Soccer, Tennis, Baseball, Gymnastics, Diving and Kenpo Karate.

I followed gymnastics through 4 years of Division 1 NCAA competition at The College of William and Mary where I majored in Kinesiology and Health Sciences.

After graduation I performed for 4 years in Las Vegas at an acrobatic, aerial, water show called Le Reve, a privately owned “Cirque Du Soleil-style” show at The Wynn hotel.  Following Le Reve, I moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue a career in stunts.

What inspired you to become a stunt person?

I have always loved film, television and story telling.  As I got older, and achieved a level of success as a performer, I became aware of stunt work as a full time career.

I learned that stunt performers, coordinators, choreographers, riggers, etc., played an integral role in bringing a script and story to life.  I quickly became interested in performing on camera, but even more so, learning to be part of the creative process of bringing content to life.

Stunt work is a great stepping stone to work and learn the entire industry, and hopefully will open creative doors in the future.

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

I have always been a physical performer, from a handful of sports growing up, to specifically excelling in gymnastics.  I also spent many years training a variety of martial arts styles, starting in Chinese Kenpo at a young age, and ultimately earning a black belt in an integrated style which combines techniques from JKD, Taekwondo, Boxing and Wing Chun.

On top of my martial arts and gymnastics training, 4 years of circus work allowed me to spend hundreds of hours flying in harnesses, partnering with other performers in the air and on the ground.  At this point in my career, I consider myself a fight/acrobatic/wire work specialist.

My passion for these areas of performance have also led me to choreograph, shoot and edit.  I hope to work more creatively in the coming years, specifically designing, choreographing and shooting physical action sequences.  

What is the best part about being a stunt performer?

Stunt performers are kind of like the professional athletes of Film/Television.  It is our job to stay healthy and in shape, take the hard hits, and because of this, we get to be a part of some the most exciting scenes.

We aren’t famous by any means, but we often get to interact with some of the biggest names in the industry.

Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story!

I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one all time favorite, but this little story definitely makes me smile and appreciate what we do.

I was working on American Horror Story, dressed as a possessed ghost, painted black, fake finger nails, torn up clothing, barefoot.  During a rehearsal, I dropped down on a descender about 25-30 feet in the middle of a spiraled stair case, landing in the middle of smashed up wood and glass from a chandelier that had fallen in the previous shot.

Cuba Gooding Jr., the lead on the season, was standing about 3 feet from my landing mark.  He looks at me, up at where I started, back down at my bare feet surrounded by broken glass, “hell of a way you guys make a living!”  I happily replied, “wouldn’t have it any other way!”

What advice would you give other stunt people?

Patience, honesty, find your specialties, and long-term vision.

Stunt Players Directory:

Instagram: @joshfriedstunts

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