Clay Donahue Fontenot: One of the Most 'Sought-After' Stuntmen
Arts and Culture Career

Risk and Reward: Clay Donahue Fontenot, One of the Most ‘Sought-After’ Stuntmen in the Business

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Clay Donahue Fontenot is one of the most sought-after stuntmen in Hollywood (Image: Fontenot)
Fontenot, as a stuntman in "Ironman." (Image: Fontenot)

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“I didn’t know anyone in California, I didn’t know anyone in the business, and I didn’t know anything about the business. So, when I got there, I acclimated for about six months, read the trade papers trying to figure out how it worked and then went out and got an agent,” he says.

Eventually, he started doing work as an extra and then got his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card. (SAG is the union governing all on-screen performers in film and some television.) Not long after he earned his SAG membership, Fontenot met a group of motion picture stunt coordinators and stuntmen who took him under their wings and showed him the ropes.

“My first stunt job was pretty small, but then my second job sort of kicked off a wave of interest in myself and my skill set. At that point my career took off like a rocket ship and I’ve been working every day since,” he says.

Fontenot’s first legitimate SAG job was the “The Parent Hood.” After that, he went on to do the first “Men in Black” movie starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. It was his first big-budget, A-list job. “I had done some low-budget, non-union jobs before this, but this job placed me right in the middle of a group of stunt coordinators that were doing Hollywood’s biggest shows at that time and they kept me busy for my first few years.

It also helped that he was the right size and weight to double for a few of the leading actors. He also possessed a skill set which met Hollywood’s demands and soon began to work nonstop.

Most stuntmen will tell you not to classify them as daredevils. They calculate and are always looking to minimize risk as much as possible. Also, it’s not the industry norm to just walk off the street and onto a movie set demanding an audition. It takes time to develop a unique range of physical skills. The process involves careful planning, intense preparation, attention to detail and endless, inexhaustible reservoirs of courage.

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