Behind the Scenes in Hollywood: Jessica Harbeck

 
 

AE: While we’ve been talking, I’ve been looking at headshots on your Stuntwomen’s Association website. You guys are all hot!

JH: Yeah, we like to think so! [laughs] No. It’s different for all of us. Some girls like to wake up in the morning and put on the makeup and get cute. For me, it’s like, “Shoot me.” It’s a chore. I’d rather die. The only time I put on makeup is when I go to work. I consider it being in drag. You even have to mimic the way the actress carries herself.

AE: What does that entail?

JH: They all walk differently, they all run differently, maybe stand with their hand on their hip in a certain way. We have to make it look like it’s them. 

AE: Are there an inordinate number of lesbians in the stunt business?

JH: The few that are, we all know each other. But there really aren’t many.

AE: I find that surprising. This is a job tailor-made for lesbians. I could just be talking about myself, mind you.

JH: I wish I had an answer for that. It is really tough. I mean, you have to be in top shape to do it.

On the set of CSI:NY

AE: OK, forget what I said about me. Do you get to do high falls?
JH: I do height falls, but I’m not a high fall expert. There are women in my group who do that. They do falls from over 90 feet.

AE: As computer-generated special effects become more sophisticated, will they eventually take the place of traditional stunt work?

JH: We work hand-in-hand with special effects. They complement each other. You know, Avatar was a huge stunt movie. Stunts are here, and you will always need stunt people. Nothing can replace a human body hitting the ground.

AE: I’ve always said that! What should the would-be stuntwoman know?

JH: I would say the first thing is do not take no for an answer. Move to LA and promise yourself that you will truly do whatever it takes because it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to be easy, people aren’t always going to be nice. But if you have that drive inside of you, you will start to meet the right people and things will start to go your way.

AE: I said advice for stuntwomen, not writers.

JH: Well, show business can be heartbreak.

AE: Do you have a girlfriend right now?

JH: No, I’m single.

AE: You have a nice headshot. Let’s see what happens. Maybe we can get you a date.

JH: [laughs] I’d love it.

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