Pull a stunt like that

Autumn 2016

Grant Koo rushes through door, gun blazing, behind Bruce Willis

Stuntman Grant Koo ’93 (left) in the movie Vice. Bruce Willis (center) comes out in the opening scene, stops the footage, and explains the premise of the movie.

Grant Koo ’93

When Grant Koo ’93 heads to work, he knows that he’ll probably take a punch, get tossed off of a 10-foot ledge, or get hurled out of a speeding car.

But that’s just on good days.

As a stunt actor who’s smashed through walls as the Kool-Aid Man and put himself in the path of 10-ton buses in Michael Bay movies, Koo helps make on-screen action scenes more gasp-worthy. “It’s fun and cool,” he said of his adrenaline-spiked profession. “But you could also die.”

Becoming a stunt performer wasn’t on Koo’s radar early on. At Colgate, he was an art and art history major, and he went on to do consulting for private art collectors and corporations.

But in 2002, he moved to Florida where he met his soon-to-be wife, Shawn, who had done modeling and encouraged him to get in the entertainment business. She introduced him to some of her agents, and he started landing commercials.

Over time, directors began sussing out some of his other talents, which include martial arts. He’d been honing his skills since childhood, and that opened up new opportunities. “I knew the basics of grappling, getting thrown, and taking a fall correctly,” he said. “That translated into stunts.”

Koo has done commercial work for Disney and MTV, landed gigs for television shows including Ballers and Blindspot, and snared jobs on films including Transformers: Age of Extinction and Vice.

He’s probably been in television and movie scenes you’ve watched through parted fingers. And although Koo may seem to have adventure-enhanced DNA, he admits he’s sometimes terrified, too.

In his work for a dramatic scene in the Transformers movie, for example, Koo and his colleagues had to leap out of cars, sprint under buses that were falling from the sky, and evade vast tsunamis of water that gushed out of 500,000-gallon tanks. “You have to know you’re prepared, and you can’t ever tense up,” he said. “That’s when you or somebody else gets hurt.”

— Erin Peterson