EXCLUSIVE: Interview With THOR Stuntwoman, Ky Furneaux (Sif)
Giving CBM a fascinating insight into her career as a stuntwoman, Ky Furneaux talks to us about doubling for Jaimie Alexander as Sif in Thor, what it was like to work on the movie, don the armor and take direction from Kenneth Branagh as well as teasing what she’ll be doing in The Avengers and more...
After working as a stuntwoman on the likes of 2012, Hancock and Supernatural, Ky Furneaux has recently finished work on one of her biggest jobs yet – doubling for Jaimie Alexander’s Sif in upcoming Marvel Studios blockbuster, Thor. With the movie only weeks away, I got in touch with Ky to talk about her work on the movie and she was kind enough to go into great detail about not only her work on Thor, but also her career, past and future projects (including The Avengers) and much more.
What made you decide to become a stuntwoman?
I had been an outdoor guide for about 8 years which is a very active and interesting job but I was kind of getting tired of not coming home to a warm bed every night so I decided to change careers. A kid on one of my courses suggested stunts as we were playing some kind of rough game that involved tumbling down sand dunes. It seemed the logical choice as it appeared to be an active career that was very unpredictable and challenging and no two days would be the same but I'd get to go back to a warm bed at the end of a shift. A perfect fit.
How did you actually enter the industry?
I had heard that Vancouver, Canada, was called Hollywood North at the time I was thinking of getting in and I decided to try my luck there. I thought that Los Angeles would be very cutthroat and I am a country girl at heart so I was also a little nervous about such a huge city. I headed to Vancouver and wandered around telling anyone who would listen that I wanted to be a stunt woman until someone finally said they knew a stunt guy and pointed him out at the bar. I bought the guy a drink and he gave me a load of advice on how to get in the industry. He also gave me the number of a martial arts trainer and told me to start training. I worked my butt off for a year training everything I could from martial arts to weapons to wire work to driving and high falls. I also met more stunt people and began working as a background performer on set to understand the industry better. After a year of all this and handing out my headshot to stunt coordinators, eventually my headshot passed by a director's table and I was chosen to be a bride who dies on a show called Dead Like Me. I haven't stopped working since then. Eventually I even got the courage to tackle a big city and moved to LA to continue the dream.
Since then, you've appeared in some huge movies including the likes of Tron: Legacy and 2012. How do you find it working on such large scale projects?
I love working on large scale projects. Firstly, they tend to have the budget to put together some really cool action sequences and secondly, they are movies that I can get excited about seeing when they come out.
What can you tell us about your work in Thor?
Thor was one of my favorite movies I have ever worked on. The cast and crew were fantastic and everyone had a lot of fun making the movie. I got to do all kinds of exciting stunts and incorporate fighting and wire-work in some great action sequences. I was also doubling Jaimie Alexander who is a great friend of mine so that just made it all the better. I wish I could tell you more but until the actual movie comes out, I'm under strict contract.
After working with her on Kyle XY, did you enjoy working alongside Jaimie Alexander again?
Jaimie is a wonderful actress and a lovely person. We get along very well and always have a good laugh whenever we are working together. She is fearless and will do whatever she's allowed to do when it comes to stunt work. She was always up for weapons training and practicing her fight moves whenever she could. Even sometimes on the weekends she'd want to practice in a park somewhere. I'd be the one begging off cause I'd been fighting all week and was tired :)
How about the rest of the cast? What was your interaction with them like?
This was an amazing cast. They were all dedicated to making the best possible action movie. They would all attend the stunt rehearsals and give it their all to make their scenes come alive. There was always laughter on set and even on the long days, no one threw hissy fits. The cast truly came together like the companions that these gods were meant to be. Being a stunt heavy movie, we were quite often interacting with the cast and I've rarely worked with a cast that appreciated and thanked stunt performers like these guys did.
And Kenneth Branagh?
I love Kenneth. Maybe it's the English/Australian thing... He was a great director and having a strong acting background, he knew what he wanted to see in the performances of his cast. He drew a huge range of emotions from them which I believe, will make for a very rich movie. He had so many things going on, directing such a large scale movie, but he knew all the stunt performers names and would always thank us for the job we were doing. I always believe that the mood on set is dictated from above. How everyone is treated and respected comes from how they see the director behaving. The fact that this was such a wonderful set to work on, is a direct result of how Kenneth came to work every day. He never lost his sense of humor and his sense of awe with the world he was creating.
Did you find it difficult having to perform in the kind of costume a character like Sif wears?
Yes. :) Armor is never easy to work around. We choreograph these fights wearing gym clothes which allow for great freedom of movement and are very forgiving and then we are placed on uneven terrain in high heels wearing heavy restrictive armor and asked to perform those same moves. Let me tell you, dive rolling with a sword and shield on wearing a chest plate and shoulder armor is a wee bit tricky. Luckily I have done super hero movies before and I know that the women quite often wear heels so I had the costumers mock up some heels for me to rehearse in. This helped quite a bit with the transition from rehearsal to shooting. And then it gets easier over time. That armor felt like a second skin by the time we were done shooting.
Are there currently any plans for you to work with Marvel Studios again? The Avengers or future Thor movies for example?
I am currently contracted to work on Avengers but it won't be doubling Jaimie Alexander. I have another super hero to fall down for this time. I am hoping that Thor does so well that they make another one and if they do, I'm hoping I get to tag along with Jaimie. I'd love to don the Sif outfit again.
This isn't the first superhero movie you've worked on of course. How would you compare this experience to the others?
This is the first time I have been the lead double on a super hero movie and worked the entire shoot from start to finish. This is also the first time I got to do all the stunts for the lead female. Usually on movies this size, a second unit double is required to keep up with all the action. In the past, if I was on for the run of a movie, it was as the second unit double. I am so proud of this movie because for some reason, the shooting schedule allowed for me to do all the stunts.
We'll also see you at work in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides this year. Can you tell us about your work on that movie?
I am sure that everyone has seen the mermaids by now on the movie trailers. Well, let's just say that they aren't as pretty as they first appear... Enter the "stunt mermaids".
More and more female superheroes seem to now be making their way to the big screen. Any in particular you'd love the chance to double for?
I always wanted to be Wonder Woman but the girl that they cast for that in the series was way too tall for me. I was in the running to be the stunt double for her when Justice League was in production but that went away which I was sad about. Truth be told, although I know she's not technically a superhero, I'd love to double Lara Croft.That kind of earthy, using the environment to defeat the villains with cool machinery, seems like a lot of fun and let's face it, I'm never going to double Indiana Jones, so this is the next best thing...
Thanks again to Ky for taking the time to talk to me, and if you’d like to know more about her, you can find her official website by clicking HERE. If you’d like to follow Ky on Twitter (@aussieinaction) just click HERE.
With an all-star cast which includes Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Thor is set to be released in the UK on April 29 and shortly after in the US on May 6, later this year!
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