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Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be stuntmen

Under the Dome‘s Peter King performs Hollywood-size stunts in Wilmington, North Carolina


It’s not every day you get to hang out with a stunt performer (and by “hang out,” I mean blow up buildings, flip cars, the usual), unless you work in the industry. It’s definitely one of the coolest jobs in film. Everyone wants to talk to that guy or girl. You want to hear the stories and live vicariously through his or her adventures. Growing up, I admit I was a stunt junkie, always doing something dangerous. I’m surprised my mother is still alive to tell the tales of raising me. Yup, mothers of stuntmen and stuntwomen should definitely get an award for raising “our kind.”

One such son is Wilmywood’s (aka Wilmington, North Carolina, for any newbies) own stunt coordinator, Peter King. With more than 100 films under his belt, his mama had it worse. King grew up on a farm and, with his brothers, created a makeshift zip-line out of an old barn sheave, a rope and a lawn chair.

“We had one incident where the barn sheave fell down on my brother’s head and split him right down the top,” King said. “He came home with a reverse mohawk and several stitches. After that, they let me tie all the knots; I was much better at it than they were. I had a little more control after that incident, regardless of being the little brother. Thankfully, we are all still alive.”

Kids, don’t try this at home — rather, visit Wilmington and watch King in action! He’s been a regular around town ever since he moved here three years ago and worked on local projects including We’re the MillersTammy and Under the Dome. Before 2011, he had never been to Wilmington. He moved here for three reasons: EUE/Screen Gems (a local film studio), the family environment and the beaches.

His first gig in Wilmywood was the Colin Firth/Emily Blunt flick Arthur Newman, but his L.A. street cred didn’t earn him any favors in this film town. “I had to interview for every job just like everyone else,” King admitted. Being new to North Carolina, this movie gave King the lay of the land, as they shot not just in Wilmington, but also traveled to other parts of the state.

Jennifer AnistonNot long after, We’re the Millers arrived. King was elated to work with that cast, including Jennifer Aniston (with King and her stunt double, Michele Waitman, at right) and Jason Sudeikis. Waiting in the wings was the Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy. It wasn’t luck that got King that position.

“Peter had just come off We’re the Millers, which was a Warner/NewLine show, as was Tammy,” said unit production manager Chris Bromley. “He had a solid cast recommendation, so the studio execs and I met with Peter, and they liked his instincts and ideas. Like myself, Peter has strong safety mandates … He did a great job.”

Speaking of safety, is that McCarthy or a stunt double careening across the water on that Jet Ski in Tammy? King said it’s really McCarthy: “I was trying to teach [Melissa] since she had never been on one … She did fall off, but she was a trooper about it. Got right back on the horse, so to speak, like it was nothing. She was a lot of fun to be with. Very strong-willed, in a good way.”

Watch her in action here: 

Currently, King is busy working on season 2 of Under the Dome. He’s so busy that he did something very unconventional: King held stunt auditions. “I think the reason why stunt auditions aren’t held as often is because it’s difficult to do,” he said. “You have to have proper insurance and a venue to hold it in. You have to have the time and the equipment. It’s not something you can just throw together.”


Under the Dome stuntmen Jimmie Lee Sessoms, Peter King and Ben Jensen

As unconventional as it was, it paid off. King found quite a few local talents to draw from. Jack Bender, Stephen King and the rest of the producers “want a lot more action,” according to King. “We have been really busy getting stunt doubles for the cast. Just about everyone has a stunt double. If they haven’t had one, there soon will be.”

One guy who works well with the stunt team is Under the Dome‘s Mike Vogel, who plays Dale “Barbie” Barbara: “Mike Vogel is very athletic and always has great ideas to spice up the action,” King said.

What do these stunt doubles get to do? King’s favorite scene in season 2, for one. “We just blew up a building on Fourth Street. We got to be in really close proximity to all the pyrotechnics, and you know, flying through the air and getting toasty. It was a good shot,” he said, grinning.

Mothers everywhere are cringing.