Behind the Scenes in Hollywood: Jessica Harbeck

AE: Do you specialize in any particular kind of stunt? Like, some people do hand-to-hand fighting, or wire work, or pyrotechnics or jumps? Listen, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

JH: No, you do! I’m like, “Hey wait. She knows what she’s saying!” [laughs] You know, I’m more of an all-around athlete kind of stuntwoman. I am not a specialist, like some people in our business.

[There are] incredible ex-Cirque du Soleil people, martial artists who were national or world champions, and people who are exceptionally good at specific things. I’m more of an all-around athlete girl who’s pretty good at a lot of stunts, but not awesome at that one thing.

AE: What’s the coolest stunt you’ve ever done?

JH: Hmm. What about my favorite day at work? How about that?

AE: OK. Either way, I’m already jealous.

JH: I got to work on an episode of CSI: NY and double for the actress who was playing lingerie football. That was an excellent day. I was the quarterback, in full lingerie with 30 other girls, playing full-contact football. That was a dream come true.

AE: I hate you.
JH: It was so fun!

AE: You used to play rugby. That must have prepared you for it.
JH: Nobody hits like a rugby girl. They’re wild and crazy and tough and passionate.

AE: Stuntwomen need to look like the actress they’re doubling for. Who do you most resemble?

I’ve probably doubled Bridget Moynahan most convincingly. She’s an athlete , so that was an easy job. I doubled for Jane Lynch on the VH1 “Do Something” awards show, which was sweet. In the beginning of the show, they had seven stuntwomen coming out of the ceiling, live. We had wigs and track suits on. It was sweet.

AE: Many actresses are tiny.They’re short and weigh next to nothing. How do you remotely resemble them and still maintain a body that has the strength you need to do your job?

JH: I’m 5′ 8″ and weigh 120 pounds. I work pretty hard to stay lean and fit, and stay ready for this job. I do a lot of yoga and take martial arts. I also surf and stand-up paddle board. My week revolves around work things, staying in shape and staying ready.

AE: What was your most recent film?

JH: I worked on a movie called Shark Night 3D down in Louisiana, with Katharine McPhee.

Jessica and her abs on the set of Shark Night 3D

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