Debbie Evans is one of Hollywood’s top stunt women. Debbie has been Michelle Rodriguez’s lead stunt driver for the Fast & Furious franchise, featuring in 6 of the 8 films.
Thanks to Universal Sony, we had the chance to get in touch with Debbie, in order to find out more about her involvement in the latest installment of the Fast & Furious saga, her work in previous blockbusters like Terminator 2 and Batman & Robin, and much more.
SR. You have been part of tons of films as a stunt double!
I have. This September this year I will have been in the industry for 40 years and have worked in over 200 films.
SR. How did this passion begin and how hard was to get into the Hollywood industry? What was your first big job as stunt actor?
At the time it was really hard to get into, you had to have a Screen Actors Guild Card or had to know someone who could give you a break. I got my break riding motorcycles for Yamaha – someone needed a female rider who could jump a 30ft ravine. So my first job was doing just that, I jumped a motorcycle over a 30ft ravine on Death Sport in 1977. The bike was a Yamaha DT 400 which had lots of heavy metal with lots of futuristic looking props on it.
SR. You were in Terminator 2, The Matrix, Batman and the Fast and the furious saga. What can you share with us about those particular experiences?
In Fate of the Furious, I really enjoyed the cars I got to drive. The rally driver in Iceland was way cool – driving through the ice with studded tyres and driving through fire.
Also, the mid 60s Corvette Stingray model was just an iconic car to get to drive – the engine just sounded amazing and was music to my ears – such a classic car from that era.
Driving the Dodge Challenger and jumping through a wall before sliding the corners and avoiding the wrecking ball – which was real! The ball was on a guide so it took the same trajectory each time (we were hoping), and luckily everything worked out great and the sequence looked amazing!
In T2 I doubled Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) doing physical stunts. I had to master limping and cocking the shot gun with one hand as well as many other physical stunts. Linda was very athletic and strong so I also taught her how to perform certain stunts she was capable of performing. My stunt coordinator told me I had to get realty buff for the film and while Linda had a trainer for three months, I only had one month to get extremely cut.
In Batman and Robin, I rode the motorcycle in the race sequence doubling Alicia Silverstone. We did some really nice jumps, one was head on with a trash truck and the other sliding in front of the truck, throwing it sideways and going off on a 90 degree angle.
SR. What has been the most challenging stunt you have done so far?
Driving the Black Honda Civic under the semi-truck and flipping the car doubling Michelle Rodriguez in the first Fast and the Furious. I was dancing with the swerving semi and had to dart under when I thought the timing was right then hit the tractor wheels which propelled me off the road flipping the car off the embankment, doing a pirouette on its nose.
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I have people ask me if that was CG and I assure them I was really in the car and performed the stunt.
SR. Have you had any scare after things didn’t go according to plan during your time as stunt woman?
I had to ride against four lanes of traffic with four cars making lane changes and my last move was splitting two oncoming semi-trucks. It was a very intense scene and everything went well the first 4 times we did it, on the fifth time one of the cars didn’t move and clear the lane I was mean to take and we had a collision which sent me and the man on the back of the bike to the hospital.
Nothing was broken, my ankle and foot was swollen so that night I took the trashcan in the hotel and filled it with ice and water and dunked it until I couldn’t stand it anymore and limped to work the next day. I completed my action scenes because as long as I wasn’t walking I was ok.
SR. Speaking about the latest fast and furious film. How was working again with the cast and especially closely with Michelle Rodriguez? How is your relation with her?
Michelle is a great action star and she really appreciates what we do and the world of stunts. She wishes she could do it too but unfortunately she is too valuable as the actress to risk getting hurt in any way, but she’s always been game. I have a good relationship with Michelle, she’s fun to be around and we respect each other’s work.
SR. Is it true you doubled Lynda Carter as Wonder woman back in the day?
Yes I did Lynda’s motorcycle stunts on the TV show. I did lots of jumps and wheelies and just some really fun riding sequences. It was a great showcase for me when I was young.
SR. What’s your favourite type of stunts to do?
Cars, like those in Fate of the Furious, would be the first because you’re more protected in a car and motorcycles second because of the exposure. The reason is because those are my specialties.
SR. What’s next for you?
Hopefully Fast 9 & 10!