Culture

Meet Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's rock

Need to fall off a tall building or cling on to a speeding car? Stunt performer Myles Humphus is the man to call

Myles Humphus

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is the biggest movie star in the world; paid more and seemingly making more films than any other actor. In the last 18 months he has headlined Fast & Furious 8, Baywatch, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Rampage and Skyscraper. All made truckloads of cash in the US and UK but even more in the crucial emerging Asian markets.

“I can kick ass better than anyone on the planet… and I have a decent smile,” Johnson once said, and that’s basically the secret of his success. But with a workload that could buckle even his bulging biceps (10 films are currently filming or in production) credit should go to the unsung and unseen stars of his films.

Myles Humphus is Johnson’s stunt double, performing the daredevil deeds that The Rock’s insurance premiums won’t cover. Whether it’s jumping from cranes onto burning buildings in Skyscraper, being chased by giant wolves and alligators in Rampage or hanging off a truck driving Fast and Furious across icy tundra at 70mph, Humphus has been there and done some crazy stuff.

Myles Humphus
Myles-Humphus
Myles Humphus has filmed stunts for The Rock in Fast & Furious 8, Baywatch, Rampage and more

“I don’t see them as being crazy,” he tells The Big Issue from the set of Jungle Cruise, currently filming in Atlanta (which Disney hopes will launch a Pirates of the Caribbean-style franchise).

“Anytime you’re underwater, on fire, falling five storeys onto a car – that’s the safest you’ll ever be doing that particular thing,” he continues. “Driving home at the end of the day won’t be as safe because on set everyone’s looking to protect you. On the way home nobody cares about you.”

Humphus has doubled for Johnson for five years and is now part of what’s known as ‘Team DJ’.

“If there’s an American Dream – if that’s still a thing – you can look at him and he’s it,” Humphus says. “He had $7 in his pocket and now he’s the highest paid actor in the world. In this business you get a lot of egos who think their character on camera is who they really are; around him you just see hard work, hard work, hard work. And he’s always smiling. He has a good attitude, treats people with respect. He has a great life-work balance. Work is for his family; family comes before work.”

Like The Rock, Humphus has a background in athletics, which he believes is the perfect preparation for a stunt performer.

“My major sports were [American] football, track and MMA,” he explains. “With those you have to be able to perform at a high level every time. You either win or you lose. You have to constantly perform at your highest level or you might as well not show up.”

Dwayne Johnson
The-Rock-Dwayne-Johnson
The Rock's athletic frame required another sportsmen to act has is body double – Myles has a background in athletics

Having featured in around 70 films and TV shows, the skills of a stuntman are in demand despite improvements in computer generated effects.

“It’s the same reason actors are still needed,” Humphus says. “You can watch films like Shrek but cartoon figures don’t show the same emotion a human would. Just as minor notes on someone’s face tell a huge story, it’s the same with a person falling down stairs or out a window. Their body tells a story better than a computer.”

Although Humphus’ work focuses on specific moments in a film, it’s key to understand how it fits into the wider story. “I need to know what DJ’s doing, how he’s interpreting it,” Humphus says. “I can’t just do it however I feel because it’s his character. I need to know exactly what he’s thinking when that thing happens, what his plan is going into it, what his reaction is – whether it’s fight or flight. If I don’t do that, I’m doing a disservice to the movie and the viewer.”

His aim is always to be invisible to the audience.

“After five years of doubling, I can walk like him and almost talk like him – but they don’t ask me to talk much,” Humphus says.

“I don’t care if anyone knows I exist, because if they don’t know I exist then I’ve done my job properly.”

Although you won’t notice him, Myles Humphus worked on Rampage, out on digital download and on DVD, 4K Ultra HD & Blu-Ray on 20 August

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