The Rock's stuntman shares his training and motivation tips
Myles Humphus is a stuntman with years of blockbuster experience. Most recently, he was stuntman for The Rock in the monster movie Rampage.
Humphus, a former prize fighter and corporate office worker, has also performed stunts in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Fast & Furious and the upcoming Creed II.
He spoke to JOE, discussing his training tips. He's also brutally honest about coming off social media.
JOE: What made you pursue stunt work as a career?
Myles: I grew up watching stuntmen in the 1980s and they were rockstars. I couldn't sing for shit or afford a drum-kit and guitar so I jumped my BMX bike off cliffs, skateboarded and played every sport.
When I got the chance, many years later, I jumped on it and never looked back.
What attributes did you realise you had in your locker?
I was blessed with family and friends who took pride in hard work. So as a boy I trained hard and developed a lot of power and explosiveness. That carried over into my career.
Additionally, playing contact sports and fighting for so long conditioned my body to absorb impacts that most people can't handle. Growing up with a bowie knife on my hip, a .44 magnum in hand and a 30/30 slung over my shoulder made handling weapons on camera second nature.
How do you prepare for different kinds of stunts?
I am always training. Eat, train, work, sleep. Training isn’t confined to the gym. I am behind the wheel, on a field, climbing, swimming, fighting.
Sometimes you just have to take the hit and suck it up, but usually, there’s a way to hit the ground and not get hurt. The BMW M course is excellent and I suggest taking that as you learn how to intentionally lose traction and still control the vehicle.
What was different about your training for Rampage?
For Rampage, I ran sprints in the woods. I used variable conditions, unpredictable terrain; I figured fighting monsters was going to involve a lot of evading over rubble and treacherous debris fields.
I picked up a little tip from stuntman Gary Peebles that I like to incorporate as we get closer to shooting which is training in wardrobe.
Boots, tactical pants, belts, backpacks, etc are worn as they can be quite restrictive, making me adapt and giving me foresight into what suggestions I need to make for my on camera wardrobe. 'Action gussets' are my best friends.
Did you take anything from military school and football into training for a film?
Attention to detail, focus and mental toughness.
Both sports and military prepare you by pushing you past your limits. I learned I could survive a lot more than I thought I could which allowed me to manage the inherent fear and pain that comes with this type of work.
I learned how to compartmentalise pain and operate at a high level through it. Once that camera rolls, there is nothing but the scene. And that’s what this lifestyle is all about; on action you are free from everything in this world and alive in the scene.
Do fight scenes require MMA skill work as opposed to power training for explosive stunts?
Fight scenes demand knowledge of many fight modalities - depending on the style of fight. I found karate and taekwondo helped me to lengthen my strikes thus adding range, which always comes in handy on film.
Boxing has excellent footwork drills that help you maintain proper distance for your strikes to read as they are intended. Judo will give your body the toughness to hit the ground and keep moving take after take. MMA sparing is great for conditioning.
What have been your favourite roles and how have you approached them?
Being RockSteady in TMNT was one of my favourites. I had to learn how to run like a rhino. There’s not a lot of footage floating around of rhinos running!
Usually, once they charge, people tend to forget about filming and flee. But after getting some looks at how they move, I was able to incorporate that into the character.
You’re not on social media – what motivates this decision?
Think how much time you spend looking at that 4.5 inch screen, mindlessly scanning through memes, selfies and puppies. I was spending way too much time doing it.
I was sitting on a boat in Hawaii when I realised I had been staring at my phone for way too long. It had ruined relationships, alienated friends, falsely informed me and caused a shift in my world view.
I was taking pictures for likes instead of enjoying the view for myself. It was an addiction. It was unhealthy.
I reckon if you make a list of three things you want to accomplish this week, suspend your social media accounts and do something towards those things every time you want to check your phone, you’d have to make a new list the next day.
For any budding stunt pros out there, what would your advice be?
You have no idea what you’re getting into. You will struggle. You will be lonely. You will be hungry. You will face some of the fiercest competition you’ll ever face. And you will fail... over and over and over. All just trying to get a shot. Do something else. Anything else.
But if you do choose this path, I applaud you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Where do you source motivation?
Aw man... motivation. There have been solid, strong guys around at every stage of my life who showed me, through their examples, what it means to be a man.
From my father to my coaches, to Doug Crosby, to Brian Smyj to Tanoai Reed, to DJ (Dwayne Johnson). They’re my motivation. Honour, respect, loyalty, accountability, humility, empathy - these are the things they have shown me.
Rampage is released on 4K Ultra HD & Blu-Ray on 20 August.