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Ryan Gosling and ‘The Fall Guy’ Director David Leitch Premiere Their “Love Letter” to Stunts at SXSW

Ryan Gosling and director David Leitch brought their ode to stunt performers, The Fall Guy, to the SXSW Film and TV Festival, where it was met with a very warm welcome.

“We hope that it is reflective of how much the crew gives to every single film,” said Gosling on the action rom-com, which had the audience in the Paramount theater constantly applauding.

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Gosling plays Colt, a stuntman who, after getting out of the business for a year, is called back into action when the star of a big studio movie suddenly disappears and that big studio movie happens to be directed by his ex (Emily Blunt). Colt gets wrapped up in a murder and cover-up that become much bigger than him or the film he is desperate to get made.

Ahead of the screening, Gosling called out his stunt performer Logan Holladay, who was in the audience. “There is a moment in the film where he buckles me in for a stunt that he is about to do. Then I get out of the car and he pats me on the back for a stunt that he just did. How fucked up is that?” said Gosling. “What I love about this movie is in any other film you would never know that but in this one you do. It’s an opportunity to finally acknowledge the stunt performers and the incredible contribution that they already make to movies.”

The Fall Guy‘s movie in a movie allowed Leitch, the stuntman turned filmmaker behind John Wick, to show off the skills of his stunt crew. The film is filled with incredibly choreographed action sequences, while offering an inside look at how those action sequences come together on the set of a massive action film. These included Gosling’s Colt getting set on fire (multiple times), rolling cars (multiple times), and fighting bad guys on the back of a dump truck while being backed by Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” (the one time, but it’s great).

As would be expected, but is difficult sometimes to believe, the stunt work in The Fall Guy is done practically. “It was a love letter to stunts. We knew we had to be authentic in that world,” said Leitch, who produced the film with his producing partner and wife Kelly McCormick. When asked how accurate The Fall Guy is to life on the set of a tentpole, Blunt said, “Incredibly accurate. There is always a bit of chaos.”

In addition to Blunt and Gosling, The Fall Guy stars Winston Duke, Hannah Waddingham and Stephanie Hsu were on hand at the premiere. Also in the audience was CAA head Bryan Lourd and Universal Pictures chairperson Donna Langley.

Gosling’s arrival in Austin came two days after he was on stage at the Dolby theater for the 2024 Academy Awards, where he was nominated in the supporting actor category and performed his song from the blockbuster Barbie, “I’m Just Ken.” (“Don’t worry, I’m not going to sing, I promise,” Gosling joked when he took the stage.)

Also at the Oscars, Gosling and Blunt did a presentation about the importance of stunt performers. When asked when he thinks stunt performers will be acknowledged with their own awards by the Academy, Leitch offered: “I do feel it’s changing. There is a group of stunt people working inside the Academy. I do think it’s gonna happen.”

In an interesting contrast, ahead of the film, SXSW showed a promo video that focused on the days prior’s speaker series that included multiple tech sessions focused on artificial intelligence. This video was loudly and emphatically boo-ed by the crowd in the Paramount Theater, something that happened throughout the day, at multiple film screenings.

“Artificial intelligence will make us more human,” said a conference speaker on the screen, which was met by shouts and expletives from The Fall Guy audience. “Fuck you,” yelled one man.

The Fall Guy hits theaters May 3.

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