Stuntwoman Jessica Harbeck dives into “Shark Night 3D”


Just when you thought it was safe to put away your tankini and stop sucking in your belly while girl-watching from behind your Ray Bans, Shark Night 3D slips into theaters today like a Great White into a seal pup convention.

Brought to you by the same gentle souls who gave us Hostel and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Shark Night 3D will probably scare the bejeezus out of you. You may not even know where your bejeezus are, but prepare to lose them anyway.

Anywho. A while back, we interviewed professional stuntwoman Jessica Harbeck, who had recently finished shooting Shark Night in Louisiana. With the film opening today, we thought it would be fun to follow up on all things sharky.

AfterEllen: The last time we talked, you mentioned working on Shark Night 3D. What stunts did you do for the film?

Jessica Harbeck: I doubled Katharine McPhee for the greater part of the film. Katharine did most of her own stunts while I did a lot of underwater setup, a few falls, and some water safety.  I also doubled the character “Maya” (played by Alyssa Diaz) when she is dragged behind the boat while holding onto a life preserver in order to escape a shark which is stalking her.

Harbeck with McPhee on location in Louisiana

AE: Which stunt was the most difficult?

JH: One day we were shooting in the lake and my actress had just climbed into the water to start a death scene. We all looked up because 50 yards away, a 10-foot alligator caught our eye as it entered the water.

AE: Yipes. What happened?

JH: The gator swam out to the middle and slowly slid under, leaving a trail of bubbles. The actress looked at all of us, silently swam to the boat and got right out. After we finished laughing, we moved away from the spot where we saw the gator and began to shoot stunts.

Regardless of how hard it became to hold onto the life preserver during each take, the hardest part was being in the water with visual confirmation I was not alone.

AE: Did you get to work with real sharks? Mechanical sharks? Dolphins in shark costumes? How does that work?

JH: Thankfully, they did not bring in real sharks. They used the most realistic looking mechanical sharks I have ever seen, combined with very good post production work.

Shark Night star, Sara Paxton, and friend

AE: That’s cool. Why do lesbians like sharks so much, Jessica?

JH: Lesbians like anything they can conquer. Sharks are the final frontier.

AE: I thought space was the final frontier. Oh well. Wrong again. Aside from the bikini-clad stars, what will lesbians like most about Shark Night 3D?

JH: There is a golden retriever involved. Don’t lesbians love dogs?

AE: Good point. I believe that’s in the handbook. What have you been doing since I last talked to you?

I had a great year working on True Blood doubling Pam (Kristin Bauer). The summer was beautiful here in LA, so I tried to spend as much time in the ocean as possible. I also grew a ton of tomatoes and grapes, so we canned our own tomato sauce and homemade grape jelly. Did I mention I am a 78-year-old woman?

Harbeck, the old soul, working on CSI: New York

AE: Well, you look fantastic for your age. Are you still single? Because after our first interview, a bunch of readers wanted to ask you out.

JH: I am no longer single and your readers are too nice.

Sorry, girls, she taken. But you can still try to get a glimpse of Jessica in action because Shark Night 3D opens today in the US and Canada, and internationally later this month.

Watch the trailer for Shark Night 3D below:

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