King’s Lynn stuntmen double for Captain America stars

Unsung heroes taking the pain for big names of latest blockbuster

Today sees the opening of this summer's cinema blockbuster - Captain America:The First Avenger - but as the action hero takes to the screen, spare a thought for the unsung stuntmen who take all the knocks but none of the credits.

Two actors from Norfolk play a central part in the latest superhero movie, but you won't see them, and the names of Ben Wright and Dave Grant will not be up in lights.

The two stuntmen, originally from the King's Lynn area, are doubling for leading actor Chris Evans, who becomes the all-American hero, and Sebastian Stan, who plays his good friend James 'Bucky' Buchanan, in the new adaptation from the Marvel Comics stable.

Rolling with the punches and stepping in to take the pain for Hollywood stars is all part of a day's work for the pair who knew each other as childhood members of a Lynn gym club before treading the hard path to become registered stuntmen.

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'It was all a bit weird really. We were chatting about it on the filmset; two boys from Lynn working together on the same film as stuntmen,' said Mr Grant, 31, who is originally from West Winch where his family still live, but now lives in London.

'I started in acrobatics really and trained with Ben when we were much younger. I competed for Great Britain in juniors and later seniors and went to the world championships,' he added.

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Both men are currently filming Jack and the Giant Killer, starring Ewan McGregor, and have often worked together. They were also both pupils at Lynn's Springwood High School.

Mr Grant has already had roles in films including X-Men First Class. He also played London's West End with the stage version of Lord of the Rings for 18 months.

In order to join the British Stunt Register, the men had to achieve top-level skills in six disciplines - from martial arts to swimming. All the skills have to be presented on video and both men train hard continuously to keep in top shape.

Neither admit to any injuries during filming - a kind of stunt actor's taboo.

'You just get on with it,' said Mr Wright, who joined the stunt register a few years earlier than Mr Grant.

'It is hard work, but incredibly enjoyable,' he added.

Working on the latest film, including a spell in Los Angeles, was great fun and the cast were 'brilliant' to work with.

'Chris [Evans] is a really great guy and he was happy to let us just do it. We did the stunts he was not allowed to do,' said Mr Wright.

The recent rise of computer-generated imagery could be perceived as a threat to career potential for stuntmen and women as virtual images take the place of real people.

'Actually I think there is a shift back towards doing it properly again. Computers can't compete with the depth of movement, and people can spot the difference - specially in 3D. Even if the film is computer-generated, you stil need stuntmen to perform all the movements in reality so they can be transferred to the character,' he said.

Mr Wright, 33, is originally from South Wootton where his parents ran a gym club. He now lives in Buckinghamshire but frequently returns to Norfolk to see family.

His film credits include Clash of the Titans, Sherlock Holmes:A Game of Shadows, The Golden Compass and Robin Hood.

Captain America was premiered in Liverpool on Wednesday as part of the filming was carried there out when the city's Stanley Dock was transformed into 1940s New York.

But cast and crew, were treated to their own special premiere last Sunday morning in London's Leicester Square.

'It was a great screening and looked good. It has been going really well in America and should do well here too,' said Mr Grant.

Captain America: The First Avenger (12A), directed by Joe Johnston, opens in the present day before flashing back to 1942 when world domination is threatened by German officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). In America Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) is spearheading a top-secret programme to create the ultimate soldier.

He chooses weakling Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as the perfect candidate and he is transformed into the alter-ego who does his bit for the Allied effort.

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