As SAG-AFTRA enters its third week on strike alongside the WGA (which has been on strike since May 2), some performers are doing everything they can to make the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers pay attention. One such actor, Mike Massa—who is also a prolific stunt double and stunt coordinator—literally set himself on fire in order to make a statement. Massa most recently performed in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny as one of Harrison Ford’s stunt doubles.
Wearing prothetic gloves and with firefighting backup just off to the side, Massa marched along the stage. He later told the Washington Post that he went on stage “to make a point,” which was to “look at the risk an individual took just to stand onstage and go, ‘Hey, look, we’re fighting for our rights, and we want you to pay attention to us and believe in us.’”
The post reports that he slathered protective gel on his body and layered up in clothing before gasoline was poured over his back. The stunt, originally meant to last 10 seconds, went for nearly 18 as he turned amid cheers to show the very real flames cascading down his body.
Stunt actors are particularly vulnerable to severe harm on set, and their rate of pay is not nearly equal to the risk of life and limb that they bring to productions. Every year there are reports of stunt actors dying or getting severely wounded while performing.
When Massa got the mic after he had been extinguished he yelled out, “We’re all in this together!”
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