'Dangerous stunts saved my life'

Lewis Young

'Dangerous stunts saved my life'

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Features Writer

FROM sword-fighting in Pirates of the Caribbean to being blown up in a lair in The Dark Knight Rises, his CV isn’t like most others.

But then sword fighting, racing cars at speed, being abandoned in the middle of the ocean to tread water, getting punched in fights, kicked off balconies, dodging charging horses and chariots and dropped on to suspended wires isn’t listed in the average job description.

Forget a 9 to 5, meet Lewis Young, the dad-of-two turned Hollywood stuntman from Southampton who has built his career performing the scenes too dangerous for the actors – and he loves every minute of it.

Lewis, who recently returned from Los Angeles where he was nominated for a stunt award, has starred in more blockbusters than your average A-lister, but you’ve probably never noticed his face, until now.

But while you may think rubbing shoulders with Hollywood actors on locations all over the world could breed arrogance, this 32-year-old has his feet firmly on the ground after facing adversity, crime and even personal tragedy to end up on the big screen.

Daily Echo:

One of six children, Lewis spent his childhood around Bitterne and St Mary’s and admits he was a teenage tearaway.

He became involved in crime and found himself at Southampton Crown Court facing prison aged just 17.

“I got into loads of trouble, fighting all the time. If it wasn’t for gym, I don’t know where I’d be. It saved me.”

His dad Bruce Young, a martial arts instructor, took Lewis to gymnastics from the age of four to help improve his technique.

He competed until his late teens when he met former Southampton gymnast Karl Magee, who gave him his first break with the comedy show Acromaniacs.

“I remember my 18th birthday. Everyone got me all these gifts. My first thought was ‘what do you want from me?’ I just didn’t get it.

“I thought I was a rude boy from the streets of Southampton but something just clicked and I realised performing was who I was.”

Determined to forge a career out of his showmanship, Lewis went on to perform in pantomimes and live stunt shows.

It was meeting Rogelito Lopes De Souza at a live show in Germany, who taught him how to dive from a tiny platform more than 70ft high, that gave him the confidence to go to the home of cliff-diving in Acapulco, Mexico, to compete.

“I’d always been a bit of an exhibitionist but I realised this is what I absolutely loved doing and it got me away from home where I was smoking cannabis and roaming the streets.

“Suddenly I felt like I was flying. In Mexico I looked down and the tank looked like a pint glass, it was so high.

“I just remember taking in a deep breath and at the point of no return, I was flying through the air. My heart was in my mouth and my chest was pounding. That’s when I knew I could do anything.”

Back in England, Lewis was performing in up to five shows a day in productions such as Jumpers at the National Theatre in London.

But his time in the limelight was short-lived.

He gave it all up when he had his first son Rio and to support him, decided to become a tree surgeon and kickboxing instructor.

But a meeting with some fellow stuntmen got him back into the job he loved.

However tragedy then struck.

His younger brother was following in his footsteps and was tipped for a promising career until a back somersault went wrong before a show at Legoland in 2011.

It left Jay paralysed from the neck down.

Daily Echo:

Jay Young pictured with his partner Jess Smith

Lewis, who got Jay the job, was on the verge of giving up his career for the second time.

“It really hit me. I thought ‘I don’t want to do this now’.”

But for Lewis, being a stuntman was part of him and he used his little brother’s strength and determination to fuel him to succeed.

In 2012 it paid off. After months of gruelling training in disciplines including gym, trampolining, skydiving, scuba diving, rock climbing and martial arts, he earned his place on the stunt register.

Ever since, Lewis has appeared in a number of films on location as far as India for a Bollywood film, Budapest for the Brett Ratner film Hercules and Spain for Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Daily Echo:

Lewis, said: “I have to admit I’m lucky but sometimes you can get complacent. No two days are the same.

“I’ve chased Daniel Radcliffe freerunning through woods and the next minute I’ve been part of a battle scene at Hogwarts shooting people with imaginary spells.

“This year I’m doing a movie with Hugh Jackman, it’s just unbelievable.

“I’ve always loved an adrenaline kick, it’s just what I do.”

Today, although his job takes him across the world, Lewis, who would love to work on a Bond film, says his heart is always in Southampton with his family, his boys Rio, 6, and Devon, 4, and partner Skye.

“My dad always told me you can’t succeed on your own and it’s true.

“Jay is an inspiration and it has changed my perspective on life completely.

“He’s the loveliest guy in the world and I admire his positivity. He’s taught me not to waste time. 

“My family are a rock to me – I just don’t tend to tell them what I’ve done until after.

"Find what matters and run with it.”

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