Hollywood Stunt Work with Brett Smrz

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. Today's guest is actually someone who I raised go karts with but admittedly haven't talked with in a very long time except for the occasional social media DM. And Brett Smrz not only has overcome some substantial adversity as a teenager, but he's taken his roots in racing and developed a super interesting and really impressive career as a stunt performer. So for a little of his background, Brett Smrz began racing go karts at the age of 12 and was competing nationally and winning championships, and he graduated to the Mazda MX five cup series when he was 16. And one week after qualifying poll and finishing third in his first professional race, he suffered a serious leg injury which he will get into in this episode. Within three months of that he got back into racing cars, albeit with some adjustments, and he continued racing for quite a few years before transitioning to becoming a full time stunt performer. So away from the track, Brett has established himself as an elite stunt driver with drivers Inc. In the film, commercial and television industries including doing stunt work for six underground transformers Rise of the Beasts glee Mission Impossible Captain Marvel Ford versus Ferrari Don't worry, darling Ferrari and most recently Griselda. This was such an engaging and interesting conversation and I hardcore nerded out over a lot of technical questions about what it's like to be a stunt performer, get things done performing and I think was keynote speaking in other industries, where there's not a set way to get into it and do it. I think a lot of the details go unknown to the general population. So we talked about everything from our racing backgrounds, to his accident to how he mentally pushed through that, and how it impacted his future racing career, why he switched to stunt driving, and we go into a lot of detail. And he very generously impatiently shares a whole lot of information that I thought was super, super interesting. And I hope that you enjoyed this episode. Brett, thank you for joining me on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. Brett Smrz 2:06 Thank you so much for having me, Julia, it's good to see you. Julia Landauer 2:09 It's good to see you. We were talking before we started recording that it's probably been close to 20 years since we've seen each other in person either at a go kart track or a car racing track. That's how we know each other. But it's pretty wild that we're old enough to really clearly remember, you know, 15 to 20 years ago. Brett Smrz 2:26 I know it's been a long time. And yeah, I'm glad to see we're still racing and going along with your career and all that and it's it's pretty fun to watch. And yeah, I'm glad to see you again and glad to see you're doing good. Julia Landauer 2:38 And you obviously have such an interesting and diverse career. And I mentioned a lot of what you do in the introduction, but I want to take it back to our karting roots for a hot second. So how old were you when you got into kart racing? Brett Smrz 2:50 So I was 11 years old. My dad bought a go kart for me for Christmas. I was really I really wanted to get a dirt bike and he got me this go kart and I was like I was I was really stoked for it. But I was also like, Yeah, I wish I had a dirt bike. And then but when I got to the track and started riding, driving, I was it was a lot of fun. And I just got hooked and so I was about 11 years old started racing at 12. Yeah, Julia Landauer 3:14 okay, cool. Yeah, I was similar 10 and started racing, like closer to 11. And I had started on doing the local go kart track. And then I think we met at like w k stuff, or maybe stars of Karting stuff. So did you also do like local racing regional and then move up to the national stuff? Brett Smrz 3:28 Yeah. So we started we started off with WkA and IKF and like the local Willow Springs karting series, and that was like the first year. And after the first year, my dad was just like, you're going you're getting thrown to the wolves. And that's when we just entered stars of karting and just, we were doing actually kind of a lot at that point. We were doing stars. We were doing local WKA. And then we eventually got over to the Florida winter tour. So we're kind of bouncing all over the place, you know, couldn't really pick a series we were in Rotax we kind of didn't at all. Okay, Julia Landauer 4:04 so for any listeners who aren't familiar with the early 2000s karting scene, there are a lot of different series that raced in different parts of the country. I think stars of Karting attracted more of an international audience in terms of drivers and everything. And you had many more people coming over from South America coming over from Europe, world karting association with a little more national, I think and these national series would have five or six races a year. And so like all of us kids, we just kind of hang out with each other race with each other and then see each other only a few times a year. But it was really cool. And so I had kind of stopped racing go karts, by the time I was 15 or so with a couple years of overlap with cars. At what point did you have your accident that we will talk about that kind of paused your racing career. Brett Smrz 4:52 So it was a it was actually like right after I exited karting and got into cars. I just turned 16 And that's when I had my accident. So it was like really I did one race in Formula Ford 1600. And that was at Infineon or Sears point and Julia Landauer 5:09 to throw back name Infineon, I haven't done one in a minute. I Brett Smrz 5:12 know that's what it was called then so I figured I'd you know, have nostalgia. But yeah, that Well, I did one race and then I had my accident. So it was very, it was like right in the beginning of my sports car and open wheel career. So it was it was fresh. Julia Landauer 5:26 That is tough. So can you talk us through what happened with your accident? Yeah. Brett Smrz 5:30 So I was actually at a race, I was doing an MX five cup race in Atlanta, and I flew straight home from there, got home, I went to my girlfriend's house at the time, and I jumped on a trampoline. And we were screwing around on that. And we decided to go to the second story balcony and kind of take the heights up a little bit. And my friend jumped first. And I was I was very competitive when I was younger. And I just decided that I'm going to outdo them. So I did a flip off the off the balcony, I did this big, spectacular front flip with a twist. And I landed it on my feet. But it was very it was it was a very high, you know, height. And I was still kind of twisting a little bit when I landed and it just broke my leg and cut the artery had some internal problems had got compartment syndrome, I damaged my nerve. And it was just really like a complicated situation with the brake and they couldn't close the leg and all this stuff. So I had nine surgeries lost like 50 pounds almost almost passed away from it, because it was it was starting to poison me and all that. So which is which is why they had to take it off. Yeah. Oh, Julia Landauer 6:41 my goodness. And I remember and this is gonna be another throwback name. But I remember I got a text from Zack Skolnick, who was another hardware guy who was like to trigger about Brett. And I remember for me, and like, you know, we were never besties at the track, but I feel like that was kind of the first accident of a peer that I had heard of, and I felt really bad for you. But can you walk through a little bit of kind of your emotions of you, you just get into racing cars, you're like looking to this, this cool career. And then obviously, there's a lot of trauma that you didn't have to work through what was that? Like? Brett Smrz 7:15 It was it was tough. When I first heard that it was gonna get amputated. It was it was a you know, it was mentally hard for the first day honestly, like I just I but I had a lot of time to just sit and think I was in the hospital. I was kind of on a lot of drugs at the time, honestly, when they. But um, but I really did, it didn't bother me like most people get really bothered by it. And I just decided that I'm 16 I have a lot of time ahead of me. And it just didn't bother me. So I I actually what helped me with that was that I had just finished reading Alex Zinardi's my sweetest victory his book. And he lost both of his legs and an accident, got back to racing was proved that he was you know, still able to race and be fast. So that was fresh in my brain. And then there's this stunt guy, Casey piretti. And he does all this spectacular stunt work with his prosthetic leg. He designs like these break legs and like they he can run on it and blow it off in midair and make it look like it blew up and stuff. So he's really like talented. And I've known him since I was a little kid. And so I watched him one time just sprint down the street with his prosthetic. And I was like so these visions like I it kind of helped me like mentally. And it really just set me straight for when they told me that I just decided, well, if those guys can do it, then I'm going to be one of those guys. So that's Julia Landauer 8:38 so great to see that almost like representation from such a young age. Like to your point I hadn't thought about that. So what am I correct that you come from a stunt family like was your your parents were already involved in that. And that's kind of how you knew of this stunt guy who was doing all his stuff with his prosthetic? Brett Smrz 8:55 Yeah, so my dad and my uncle are in the stunt world. And they've been doing it for almost 40 years now. So they've been around and that's my dad is the one who got me into stunts. It was I kind of had like the choice growing up like if I want to race or do stunts and I was really really trying to do the racing and that was it was pretty difficult as as you know to keep going so I saw the doors open for stunts, and I just decided to go full full bore with that. Julia Landauer 9:22 So had you done any stunt work while you're recording like before your accident or was it all after the fact? Brett Smrz 9:29 I did but it was It wasn't very much like I was I did artificial intelligence. I drowned in a pool in that movie. Same with the animal I drowned in the lake. I was like my my thing I guess I was like the drowning kid but I just did a few like small things. Bad News Bears. I did like jumped into a stage to this stage die. That was actually a lot of fun. So Julia Landauer 9:51 how what was when did you like what was the youngest you were when you did some of the stunt work? Brett Smrz 9:56 I was nine so I started at nine years old. Okay, cool. So Julia Landauer 9:59 we're Are you also going to school full time? Like What? What? When you're nine years old and you're a stunt person, stunt actor, what's the proper term? Brett Smrz 10:06 A stunt performer, stunt Julia Landauer 10:08 performer? So you're nine years old, you're a stunt performer? What does that mean? Like practically for the day, or two or three, or however long you're filming that? Brett Smrz 10:16 It was, it was fun. So you're when I was that, that young, we had to do schooling and stuff. So we'd have a set teacher and you're on it's honestly very strict rules like where you have to go into a trailer and get teached by the teacher and do your schoolwork. And when you're actually when you finish your work that you've been given, they'll give you more. And it's like, so it's, it's actually very strict. And they're always the teachers always on set, they always watch the kid, make sure that it's safe, make sure you know that they're not going to be mistreated or doing anything like that actually have a big role on the teachers do. Julia Landauer 10:54 So was were you full time, I guess, like set school or homeschool? Or would you also go to physical school when you weren't performing? Brett Smrz 11:02 Yeah, I was doing physical school until we started racing. So I was only doing a few days here and there for the stunt work. When I was really that young, they actually made a rule of law for when I was 15. They changed it's where you have to be 18 years old to do stunts. So kids actually aren't allowed to do stunts anymore. So they'll hire you know, a little person to double kids. And there's a lot of really talented people out there. So it's very easily they can find it. It's just, you know, harder match, but Julia Landauer 11:35 Right, right. And I have so many questions about that, that we will get into in a second. But taking a quick step back to the racing. So after you have your accident, how long was the rehab before you actually able to get back into racing cars? It Brett Smrz 11:49 was pretty quick. It honestly could have been faster. I just had some complications for for a few months after my leg was all said and done. I had my bone my fibula was dislocated and inside of my you know, after it had healed and set it dislocated, so they had to go back in and fix it. And that was a whole nother reset. So it took me three months. Three months later, I got back in the car. It was actually a big race weekend. It was a tripleheader race at Laguna Seca. And at that went, it went very well. So I was very, you know, I just went out there to go have fun. I didn't care how I was doing. And I just doing that alone. I think I did better. You know, I wasn't I didn't focus on it too much. I was I was just going out to have fun. So yes, I was enjoying myself. So that's Julia Landauer 12:39 awesome. Were there any adjustments that had to be made to the car with your prosthetic? Or how did that work? Brett Smrz 12:46 So there, I learned very quickly, on the first weekend that the clutch was very hard to push, you know, as you know, the racing clutches are pretty stiff. And that in that car was already like a reach, you know, the Formula Fords were, you know, very narrow and tight. And so it was a little difficult, I had to like drop the clutch every time I left, they just spin the wheels. And if I stopped I wasn't in a lot of trouble. Like if we were if we were to have to stop for the you know, the parade lap for any reason, I would have stalled and it would have been game over. So Julia Landauer 13:21 you didn't have to use the clutch to shift in the cars once you are going No Brett Smrz 13:26 I was I was just kind of for the first couple of races, I was just letting it you know, just getting out of the pits and just you know, driving with my real leg and just timing the shifts so that it worked out, which is not always the best, but it worked. It worked fine for the weekend. So and then I eventually when I got into sports cars, I was I was finding the issue of when I go through the corner, my leg, I would have to hold it on the clutch pedal like the whole time, which I still do today. I can't put it on the rest pedal because the time it takes me to find my foot to the pedal. And as you know things happen very quickly in cars and things come up, you know very fast, you have to react. And that split second that it takes me is too long. So I just keep my foot on the clutch pedal. And in the beginning I my foot would fall off mid corner because he's and I just didn't have the strength or the feel for it. And so I ended up making this bracket that goes around the clutch pedal and it was just we just zip tied it on there. And it kept my foot from falling out. Which it was actually very funny because I used it one time in an endurance race with a bunch of other drivers and they all loved it. They were cool. They were like loving it because they could just rest their foot instead of moving it to the dead pedal. They were just you know, just lazily resting it there and yeah, so it was it was fun. It was it was a good challenge. That is so Julia Landauer 14:50 interesting. Especially like yeah, if even you know even if you're you have full sensation, you're able to move your leg really quickly from the dead pedal to the clutch like it Imagine how much more seamless it could be if you didn't have to do that. So that's, that's really interesting. Can you dive into a little bit of that sensation that you were talking about? About how, like, you know, you had to find the pedal? Can you explain what that's like in terms of what you do feel? Or how you gauge that? Like, do you? Did you have to kind of look down at your foot bed? I don't know if that's possible, or did you know kind of where the pedal was? What was that was that like, no. Brett Smrz 15:24 So even still, today, if I have to just know that my leg is twisted in a certain way. And that's what I like, because I have a big foot, I have a size 12. And I still wear a size 12 shoe. And that causes problems and cars sometimes when it's tight, and all that, so I have to twist my leg perfectly. And if I don't get it there, then I'll hit the dead pedal or the break even or so that was a that was like the toughest part was just figuring it out. But after I've got it down, it just I don't have to look. But that split second, you know, it makes a big difference when you're going you know, full speed, but I can feel the sensation in my knee. So basically, it's, it's almost like if you were to tap your finger you can feel it on like your forearm is that's the best way I could describe it. Just like a vibration. It's like it goes all the way up to my knee. Julia Landauer 16:18 Okay, so you do have that. So then were there other things and please tell me if I'm being obnoxious. And you don't want to answer that this but like, were there other things in your day to day life that you also kind of had to recalibrate for in terms of what I think people with you know, the two legs were born with, like probably take for granted. Brett Smrz 16:35 Yeah, I mean, there's a lot I there's sometimes if I'm on a long walk, I have to stop for like 30 seconds. And that 30 seconds will set me straight for like 10 more minutes, and then I'll keep walking. So it's, it's kind of weird. Like, I have to ask people like, can you stop for like just a second, and then we'll keep going. So that that I've learned like I used to just push through it and I would just wreck my leg. And I don't know why it's something with a blood circulation. But that was one another one was the shower a shower is like a huge, a huge deal for an amputee leg amputee because like we travel a lot, and the shower is always different. Yes, either. It's a tub or a hoppin shower, and showers are slippery. Yeah. When you're when you're on one foot, it is pretty dangerous. So I've learned all the safe ways of getting in showers and all that. That was another one. Especially Julia Landauer 17:29 when you like wash your foot after what like Can you wash your feet? And then they're really slippery and yeah, Brett Smrz 17:35 yeah, yeah, it's, it's a challenge. But there's yeah, there's some things. Like for instance, like when I try and do like, if I wanted to ride a motorcycle, I have to make a specific shifter for that bike. Like every bike is different. I can't have a universal shifter. So if I want to ride a specific bike, I have to get a modified shifter for it. I'm Julia Landauer 17:58 most of this, which which leg? Is it? Brett Smrz 18:00 It's my left leg below the knee. Okay, so so Julia Landauer 18:03 I'm not familiar with motorcycles. So most motorcycles are your bike is the shifter on that left side. Brett Smrz 18:08 Most of them are on the left. Yeah, and so but the way that the way that they are is like if the peg is here, the shifter is down below. So I can't tilt my foot to get it. So I have to just make it go up here. And then I can I can slip my foot in and shifts and then just bring it out and downshift put it back. And so once it's set up, right, I don't even notice it. But just things like that. Like Like I just have to adapt to some things. But for the most part, life's been pretty, you know, normal, I got really good at walking again. So most people can't even tell that I if I wear pants, people don't even know that I have a leg which is it's kind of fun. Sometimes I'll work like a whole job. And people don't know. And then the last day I'll just wear shorts for fun. And just to be like, Okay, it's pretty fun. So, Oh, Julia Landauer 18:57 that's awesome. Well, Brad, thank you so much for going into that detail with us. We're gonna take a quick break, but we'll be right back with Brett on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. We are back with Brett Smrz on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. So you come from a stunt family and we were talking a little bit about them so far, but I want to learn more because I find it so fascinating. And for our listeners it was funny because my parents went to go watch Ferrari which is in theaters now. And my dad emailed us being like Julia Do you remember Brett he he's the stunt man for this this movie. I was like yes I do. Amazing. So I kind of went on a little a little dive into what you've been working on and you've done things like Rise of the Beast Mission Impossible. Captain Marvel Ford vs Ferrari. Don't worry, darling. Talk to me about what's the career like what's the industry like? Brett Smrz 19:55 It? I gotta be honest, it's a pretty rough it's a hard industry like It's fun, and it's, it's great. But it's hard to keep busy. And it's hard to, you know, to get going and get the ball rolling. So for a lot of new people, it's just it's, it's a, it's a battle, like it's one, it's something you really want, you have to you have to want it, you have to be committed to the to the business. Like if you get if you get a phone call to do a job, you have to drop everything yet you have to go. It's just one of those industries. So it was it was pretty tough for me to make that choice to to go into network because I really, I mean, my dream was to be a racecar driver, I wanted to race IndyCar, I understood what I wanted to do. So when I had the option to for one night, when I turned 18, my dad was helping me, you know, pay for some racing and do that. And when I turned 18, he said, You're on your own kid, right. So I was like, Okay, that's fair. Fair enough. So I tried, you know, getting sponsorship. And that's really hard. I learned a lot about marketing and sponsorship. And I was really studying it. And when I realized how difficult it was going to be, versus the door that I had open for stunts. And the opportunity that I had for the stunt work, I just decided, you know, I would be smarter for me to go do stunts. So I dropped racing, I said, I'm not done with it. I'm going to come back someday I swear I'm going to come back and do something with racing someday. So it's not over yet. I'll come back. Julia Landauer 21:30 Oh, totally, I hear you. And I think that's a really, especially at 18. That's a very, I think smart thing to recognize. Because some of us over here definitely, like kept trying to go for a long time, I didn't have the you know, the opportunity in the same way that you did with stunts. by it. I mean, it is so challenging is so like, even with differentiation, or you know, everything, it's so hard to just get the capital needed. But yeah, so So with with some performing, so it's freelancing, um, are you part of a union or? Yeah, Brett Smrz 22:04 so we're in the Screen Actors Guild. And it's it the way that stunt work works is it's word of mouth. So it's like who you meet, it's who you know, it's who trust you. What jobs you've done, like what you've what you've accomplished in the stunt world, that's really what gets you hired. There's some you know, it's there's a lot of people trying to do stunts. Now, though, you know, there's, it's the gates have kind of opened and it's, it's pretty busy and populated at this point. So it really just comes down to your talent, and who, you know, so Julia Landauer 22:38 with you specifically, do you specialize in a certain area stunts, besides being a child drowning in pools? Brett Smrz 22:45 Yeah, so I tried to stick away, you know, stay away from that kind of stuff. Now, I'm really just focused on driving. And because of the racing background, I'd, that's pretty much what I've very fortunately been, you know, successful in the drive stunt driving. And that's kind of what I've just stuck with. And when I started, I was in the beginning, I was trying to do everything, I was trying to do all kinds of stunts. After I lost my leg, I was going back to the gym and doing flips and training mat. And after like four or five years, I just decided like, I won't be able to do this for like, forever. Like with my leg, it was really hard. So I just decided that my my skill is driving, you know, it always has been from, you know, from my childhood up. So that's what I'm doing. If anyone calls and asks, I'm a stunt driver. So that's what I really just started pushing that pushing that and it just works. I just and also the right place at the right time. And yeah, Julia Landauer 23:44 so yeah, I had auditioned for Monster Jam trucks a couple years ago, and one of the women who was auditioning with me, she is a stunt double, but her specialty was more just like, you know, she filled in when the character had to get shoved off the side of the street or something like that. And so she was like specializing and falling authentically and that's what she was doing. But you had mentioned that that some of the stunts were a little too aggressive physically. Do you find that the driving also take some toll on your body like that? Or is it a lot easier? Yeah. Brett Smrz 24:18 Oh, yeah. I mean, this we do our best to keep everything as safe as possible. Like we you know, all the safety measures, we test everything. We've got roll cages, helmets, fire safety, neck gear, all this stuff, but as you know, accidents do happen and all that and sometimes people get knocked out sometimes. You know, people get cuts and bruises and I haven't really seen too many massive injuries. I've seen a pretty deep cut from someone with a door that kind of ripped open and and a few people have been knocked out from doing cannon rolls or pipe ramps and stuff but for the most part, it's pretty calculated and safe. And that's that's the goal is to you know, keep it as safe as possible. but make it look cool and do it. So Julia Landauer 25:01 yeah. So am I correct in assuming that there are some roles where like maybe in Ferrari, let's say where? And I haven't seen the movie yet, but like, are there some stunts where you're just taking the car on track and showing the high speed scenes versus like, stunts that require roles or flips or crashes? Brett Smrz 25:20 Yeah. So in Ferrari specifically, there was a lot of like, racing sequences for like, on the track, so that for that movie, there was a lot of go to the track and just drive and go and go quick. And we'll film you and, and there was some racing scenes. Exactly. Yeah, it was fun. But for the most part, it's usually like for car chase sequences, it's, it's usually just out on the streets, they'll lock the streets off, and hire some stunt people to be you know, the background cars. And then there's, you know, sometimes two, or however many cars are doing the lead Chase. And usually we don't get any practice or any, like, we sometimes we don't even get to see the road, just show up and or have never driven the car. Here's your car, here's the road, go do this. And they just, you know, they expected of you. And so sometimes it's really, it's difficult, it gets hard. It's difficult. And it's how you have to be on top of your game. Really? Julia Landauer 26:16 Yeah. How quickly are you expected to like, if you say, like, say you didn't see the road that you'll be driving on? Haven't been in the car? How quickly? Do they expect you to master the shot? Brett Smrz 26:27 So there's some tricks, you can either ask the coordinator like, Hey, do you mind if I go drive around and just look at it one time. And if they're helpful and trying to be on your side, they'll say yes, and they'll get they'll get it done. The other way is you take, take one, and you take 50% off, and you just come in slower and just do it. And it won't look great. But the problem with that is sometimes they'll just say moving on. And it's like, well, I could make it look so much better. But that's one way to see it. You know, you've done the take, they have it on camera, but you're you also now know, like what you're in for, and then you can just build up from there. But yeah, but a lot of times, it's really just, you know, it's it's kind of, you know, Yahoo, here's the road and you'd go do Julia Landauer 27:14 wild, like your seat of the pants feel obviously has to be so incredible, which was never my strong suit as a driver, like I do really well with feedback and off of data. But a seat of the pants, just make it work is a table. Brett Smrz 27:29 It's something I had to work on for sure. One of my things for when I was racing, I was never really good at qualifying, I would always qualify like 10th or 12th, or somewhere just outside of the top 10 are like right in there. And so I really after I stopped racing and got into stunts, I bought a Time Attack car, or I built one. And I was trying to teach myself to go fast as fast as I could, like, I'd go out I would do two laps. And that was it. I'd come in and stop. And so I was trying to train myself with that. And I was going to the track a lot training, stunt driving, because it's a lot different from racing. Like you can take the skills from racing, and they're very helpful from road racing, to go into stunt driving. But it's a lot different. And it's just a different feel for a lot of things. There's just a lot of different techniques and tricks and stuff that I picked up on over over this time. But yeah, it was it was just a lot of practice and in training. Yeah, Julia Landauer 28:30 we'll ask technical question that we can move on. But did you have to learn how to crash because like drivers racers do not intentionally crash and I wouldn't say there's like, Oh, let me precisely crash into the wall at this angle. Like do you have to learn that for any of your students? I Brett Smrz 28:46 you know what I did? It was it was kind of funny because my as my dad was the in the stunt business for a long time. And when I decided to go into stunts, he hired me on his movie that he was doing so I was doing stunt driving and he taught me how to build up this distant bag to do crashes and this and that. So I I had this bag and he hired me on to this, this job. And I wasn't supposed to do anything. And then he walked up to me one day and he said you have your stock bag with you? And I said yeah. And he pointed to a truck and he goes okay go put it all in that truck Russell's gonna help you get your belts in and stuff you're gonna get in there and crash into this car. No, and I I had no idea that I was doing that or anything like that. I think he was testing me because I said I want to do stunts. I think that was his test for me to see if I was willing to do crashes if I was you know, actually, what I had, you know, had what it took to be a stunt guy. And so it works because I was like, okay, and you know, I did it and I had to do it three times because they it was a parked car in the intersection and it was supposed to be driving in and T bone but to get the shot of the car with the glassblowing they did Just parked it and I hit it. And they blew the glass too early. So we had to reset. And I had to do it again. And then they did it with a camera car. And it was it was a good one. So I Julia Landauer 30:11 was wild to think about and so counterintuitive to like survive whole that like I feel like mentally it'd be really weird the first time. It Brett Smrz 30:19 was weird. Luckily, I was in a big like Chevy Avalanche truck. So I felt you know, somewhat safe in the in the big truck, but I was also T boning for the third one. I was T boned in a bigger truck. So it was like, All right, like it wasn't too bad. Like, it was it was fun. It was it was jolting. It was but I was like I loved it. Ever since that day. I was like, that's just what I want to do. So yeah. Julia Landauer 30:44 Oh, that's really exciting. So I forget Do you have siblings? I have a sister. Yeah, Kelly. Is she That's right. That's right. She also instant orc. Brett Smrz 30:53 No, she's not she was she tried. She did a little bit when she was growing up. She did, what dreams may come she was one of the angels like floating in the background. But no, she she started doing. She was trying to sing for a little bit. And then she's actually now she's a stay at home mom, she's got six kids and big family. So Julia Landauer 31:12 cool. That's awesome. But it's cool. That still like originated as a family kind of career that you guys all did, in terms of the lifestyle and like the scheduling for most of the types of work that you do. What does that look like? Are you on site for a few days? Is it a longer ordeal? I'm very curious, not only in the schedule, but like the frequency that you're working right now. Brett Smrz 31:35 Yeah, it's so it's a lot it's depends on what you're doing. So if you're working in town on television, you'll a lot of times go in for one day, two days, and then you're you know, that's it, we're like, if you're doubling someone, then you're working, you know all the time, but you're at home. If you're doing like a car commercial, you'll go in for most of the time, like a day, sometimes they'll last like a week. That's that's usually a pretty long one. The longest one I did was like three weeks. And that's like, really long for a commercial. But I've been in more in like the movie world lately. And it's a whole all different parts of the industry. And I've been doing movies, and that takes you out of the country a lot of times, and you'll be I'll be gone for sometimes six months. Oh, wow. or longer. Sometimes it's six weeks, it's really dependent on the job and, and how long you know, or what you're doing on the job. But yeah, it's fun. We get to travel a lot and go all over the world and see a lot of cool stuff. And that's what I love about it the most. Julia Landauer 32:38 Yeah, it's super cool. And like, I don't go to super cool places for my keynote speaking. But it's a similar thing that you get to up in see a new part and work with people. When you're on on location for many months. Is it something where you get to come home at all? Are you just living there for a bit? It Brett Smrz 32:54 kind of depends on where I'm at. If I'm in the United States, then I will fly home every few weeks. If I'm out of the country, it's really hard because you got to deal with customs and all that stuff. And it's a long flight. So I try and bring my family out wherever I'm going. If it's safe, you know, safe neighborhood, then they'll they'll always come so they were actually we were just out in Paris for I was there for six months. And they were out there for I think three of those so Julia Landauer 33:26 nice. Okay, cool. Yeah. Yeah, I'm I'm learning French since my husband's French and Oh, wow. Yeah, it's difficult. It's challenging. Yep. I don't recommend if you don't have to, but Okay, so for context for listeners, we're recording this in late February, it's gonna come out in March. So you were just in Paris for six months, how long do you get to be at home before your next project. Brett Smrz 33:49 So right now the business is actually very slow right now. There's not really much work going around there's because there's been a lot of strikes like sag went on strike for six months. And that I just finished up the job that we were trying to finish in Paris. And I was out there for six weeks for this go about. But now they're talking about another strike like in Yahtzee strike which is like the the grips and all that they might strike so a lot of productions are really afraid to start production like start movies and stuff. So it's kind of like in a limbo right now. So there's not much work going around. So I have some time off at the moment just kind of hanging out and waiting for the next phone call. Julia Landauer 34:31 Nice any anything that you focus on when you have this time off? Brett Smrz 34:35 Yes, I'm trying to get my house in order and just get it you know, you know, sorted and get stuff fixed and all that because it's an older house and things just you know, break one day at a time and I'm just trying to keep up with that. So I Julia Landauer 34:49 hear you we are not at homeownership and don't do stuff on our house and it feels seems like it's a never ending process anyway, is never Brett Smrz 34:57 ending and the ball just rolls bigger and bigger as it gets the keeps going. So Julia Landauer 35:02 hopefully we'll we're gonna take another quick break but we'll come right back with Brett we're back on if I'm honest with you and our with our guest Brett Smrz. So we've been talking a lot about kind of the logistics of stunt work. And I'd like to jump into some of the projects that you've worked on some that have been your favorite if you've gotten to drive really cool cars or things that were bucket list items. So could you share what some of your favorite projects were? Yeah, Brett Smrz 35:40 so I did six underground and that was my favorite project that I've done to date. I was in Italy for in Florence, Italy for six weeks. It was a very stressful and fun job. But we got I got to do a lot of cool stuff on that. And a fun car was in an Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio. And it was tuned and made to wear there was no electronics on it for the most part. And so it was just a fun, a fun car. We got it set up nice. And I did a lot of fun stuff on that one. So that was definitely a bucket list and hope to do another one of those soon. That so that was fun. I just did the Transformers movie in a 911 Porsche. And that was also a lot of fun because I've never really driven one that to that extent. And learning that car was really like a it was a challenge. It took me a couple of days to pick it up because it was rear engine and but once I figured it out, it was it was a lot of fun. We were up in the Andes mountains we were 14,000 feet up the cliffs were like 1000 feet drop. So if we went off we were goners. So it was it was a very challenging and adrenaline pumping day for those and yeah, those were probably my favorite jobs that I've done so far. I'd say the coolest. My uncle was doing Ghostbusters, and I got the test. I didn't get to work on the movie, but I got the test the Ghostbusters car. And that was that was pretty cool that I got the iconic right there. Yeah, it was fun. It was a good good, very powerful car, actually. Julia Landauer 37:19 Yeah. Interesting. So I got hooked on that safety comment that you just made about how if you'd go off the cliff, you're gone or so what for that kind of scene that you have to shoot? What kind of safety measures are in place. Brett Smrz 37:36 So usually there's like, you know, there's helicopters and Halifax and all that stuff. There's ambulance. If there's an accident, you like that. You know that if you were to go off the cliff, you're pretty much yeah, you're just in deep trouble because you're going because there's no Julia Landauer 37:52 net or anything like there's nothing. No Oh my god, you guys are so talented. So terrifying. Brett Smrz 37:59 So yeah, use it. But the problem was in the Andes mountains was the elevation is so high, and the helicopter really couldn't get there like they could but it was it was difficult with the elevation so that it was that was another reason why just don't go off. Don't go off the side of a cliff. Just don't mess up, guys. But yeah, there was some there was some hairy moments on it, for sure. But it was it was all it went well. And we're still here to talk about it. So amazing. Julia Landauer 38:26 We love to hear that. So then do you have anyone in your year when you're doing these sounds like drivers, we race and we have radio communication with our team? So is it similar? Brett Smrz 38:37 It depends on you know, the shot. Sometimes if we're doing things with timing, or if there needs to be cues in the middle of the shot, someone will get on the radio and say like, you know, action cars, and then give a cue like action Brett, and then I'll do something. So that would really be the only reason someone would talk in the shot. So for the most part, it's, you know, go do this, and then you go and film it. You still you have a radio the whole time. So it's basically if you usually if you hear like a board, that's that's like the worst and you say everyone stops. Red flag. Exactly. Yeah. But that's about it. It's not usually like too much chatter in your ear Julia Landauer 39:20 and not live feedback or like, Brett Smrz 39:23 turns Yes. Well, sometimes. I mean, it depends. It really depends. Like sometimes I've had the director on the walkie talkie in the middle of shot just telling, like first like giving cues the whole time. So and I don't I don't like that. I would rather get what like tell me what you want. I'll do it and then tell me what you want different like that's because otherwise I'm just like, my brain is just like what like what I'm trying to do this but now you're telling me it you know, so it gets difficult but Julia Landauer 39:51 yeah. And is that typically the director that's talking to you or is it a coordinator? I don't know the roles on sets. Brett Smrz 39:59 Yeah, so it's Usually it would usually be the stunt coordinator, it's sometimes you'll get the director talking to you. And that's usually just them kind of overstepping their bounds. And, you know, they're the director. So it's hard to tell them no. But yeah, very rarely does that happen. It's usually the stunt coordinator. That's, that's giving cues and stuff. Julia Landauer 40:18 Yeah. And then do you get to mingle with the actors that you are stunt doubling for very much? Brett Smrz 40:26 Not, I mean, it depends how long you're on the show for as as the like driver, not really, like for instance, like we'll come in, and we'll do the stunt driving stuff. And they'll be you know, they'll either be on a process trailer doing their acting stuff, or if they're actually doing a drive up shot, then I might tell them, you know how to how to look good doing it. But for the most part, as as the driver, we don't really get to spend too much time like we'll get to meet each other and, and all that. And like I said, if it's a big run of the show, then you'll see them a lot and you might get to know them. But it's it's like the fight the fight team. Like the fight movie, or the fights in the movies, they get to know the actors really well, because it's they have to train with them. And it's, you're coaching them, like one on one with fights and this and that. So it's a little different world, which I just learned, really, on this last project, I was doing a lot more of the fight stuff. And yeah, I got to know the actors and stuff pretty well. And so yeah, it's it's different sides of the industry. It's always it's kind of interesting, like being in it and seeing how different things are in like, all different areas of the industry. Yeah, Julia Landauer 41:34 for sure. And like I, you know, to your point, I would assume some stunt doubles, they have to kind of mimic body language a little more if they're not like, you know, in a car strapped in and everything where the body language is a little less important. Brett Smrz 41:47 Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah. Because sometimes the actors will, they should honestly, they should do it first sometimes, because then it's the stunt person mimicking the actor versus the opposite. Because sometimes the stunt guy will do it, and looks so good. And then the actor tries to do it, and it's like, and he knows it, and then it'll get they'll get upset about it. So a lot of times it it gets a little touchy sometimes with that. Yeah. Julia Landauer 42:14 Wait, egos might get involved, or like some type of acting and stunt work. You don't say? So are you also starting to do some, like, camera facing acting? I don't know the proper way to do that. But like beyond stunts, Brett Smrz 42:31 I to be honest with you. No, I'm not. Okay, that was on Ferrari. That was a very unique deal for me. So it was I, I went there as a stunt driver. And then when I landed, I was told the next day, hey, you're playing all version Debian and for in the movie, and I'm like, Okay. And then it turned out to be I get the script. And I'm looking at the script. And it's got, like, I'm just there a few times, you know, doing some acting stuff. And I was like, oh, like, this is an acting role. But it was all it was like an acting and driving roles. So I got the drive, you know, that old Ferrari. And it was a lot of fun. It was a it was a Kitt car with the real engine in it. But it was, it was a fun car. And so I got to do some driving shots, got to do some acting. And the acting bit was actually the most interesting to me, because I got it was working with Michael Mann, and I've never worked with him before. So I love to study people like Dre, especially directors with how they do things and like, what they just how they run the set. And Michael Mann was very unique in the sense of he, he knows what he wants. And he the way he goes about it is just different. Like he'll, he'll have the scene setup, you'll do it. And then after each take, he changes something and like adds to it. So then you he adds to it. And then the next day, he adds something else. And it builds into this whole like thing, were just you know, gets bigger and bigger. And eventually it just becomes everyone, it just becomes natural. So that was interesting to watch. He's very good at like, setting emotions, I would say Yeah. Was that so that was I learned something there. Julia Landauer 44:08 That's really cool. Yeah. And I would assume, I guess I wouldn't necessarily have that kind of interface with the director if you were solely doing the stunt work. Brett Smrz 44:18 Not necessarily. Yeah, it depends. It's it's really just a whole different vibe, a whole different feel for the so Julia Landauer 44:23 did it make you want to do more acting in like with lines and character roles? Brett Smrz 44:29 I'm not against it, but it's not really what I want to do. I would rather I would rather do stunts and do driving and just stick with the driving stuff or do stunt coordinating. That's really what I'm, I'm trying to build into that right now and do more of that. So I would I'd like to stick there. If I do acting. I'm totally happy with it. And I'll do it all day, but it's not really what I want to do. Julia Landauer 44:49 Yeah. So building on that a little bit. What Yeah, what is the career trajectory look like for you or could look like obviously you could keep doing stunts for a long time, but It probably gets a little tired eventually. But yeah, what does that look like? So Brett Smrz 45:03 basically, you start off doing stunts, you do that for a while you learn as much as you can you gain the knowledge. And after a while, you might get a stunt coordinating job or an assistant stunt coordinating job where you're learning to be the stunt coordinator. And then after you start coordinating, you'll start you know, working more and more as the coordinator. And after that comes second unit directing. And second unit directing is when they split units. So they'll have a first unit with the main director of the movie, and he's doing all the acting, and then second unit will do stunts. And that director will direct the stunts with a stunt coordinator. And so that's kind of the route that it goes, you do second unit directing, and then from there, if you're really good, and you meet the right people, you might get a directing role. So it's really, I've only it's only happened a few times, but it's starting to happen more and more. So like, for instance, Chad Stahelski was a stunt guy, and he did all the John wicks. Another one was Sam Hargrave. He did extraction. And now that's gonna do a whole series. So it it's happening more and more. And so yeah, so that route, it's, it's, it's kind of working out for the stunts. Yeah. Julia Landauer 46:21 Super cool. And so when your second unit director, does that role have a lot of creative freedom to design? Or is it kind of working within what the director has in mind? Brett Smrz 46:35 So you'll have conversations with the director, you know, just to make sure that you're on the same page. But as far as when you're shooting it on the day, the second unit director has final say, you know, he can do whatever he wants, because on that set, he is the director, unless the other director was to come to set and be there at the same time, then he Trumps you. And then, you know, you have to kind of listen to everything he's, you know, for the most part, what he's saying. But, yeah, so it's a bit it's a lot of freedom, a lot of creativity and stuff as the second unit director, you get to do a lot of design work, which is pretty cool. Julia Landauer 47:14 That's really cool. And is that what your dad does? Yeah, so Brett Smrz 47:17 he does a lot of second unit directing. He's done a few of the mission impossibles and a bunch of other stuff. And that's, that's what he wants to do more of his second unit directing. He kind of dabbles in both second unit directing and stunt coordinating. But I know he's that he's leaning way more towards second unit directing at this point. Julia Landauer 47:34 Yeah. So this is a total stab in the dark. And I'll be honest, I haven't seen the Mission Impossible movies. But I feel like on social media, I've seen clips of like the behind the scenes of Tom Cruise doing that motorcycle thing off the cliff. Is that something that you or your dad was involved in? Brett Smrz 47:49 Not on that one? No, that was that was later on my dad, my dad and I did the Burj Khalifa Mission Impossible four where he was hanging on the side of the building. And that was real. That was all on the building. And he was actually doing it. I was he does most of his own stuff. Right. I was pretty impressed. I was mind blown. He, if he wasn't an actor, he would be one of the best men in the world. Like hands down. He's a very talented man. He's very nice. He has a lot of respect for some people. But I gotta say like he he got hooked up to the cables. Were half a mile in the air on a building. So when you look down, people look like tiny little speckles. And he just, he goes, am I hooked up? Am I good? And they go, yep. And he just walked out. Like, no, no problem. No questions asked. And he was not scared. He was just full trust in his team. And I was just, it's like, man, guy's talented. But yeah, so yeah, so my dad and my uncle did Mission Impossible two together. That was John Woo. And that one they were pretty involved in and then as well, they did. My dad did Mission Impossible five Ghost Protocol that did that whole motorcycle chase and that. So yeah, then some done some cool stuff with it. And his second unit direct and careers going well. So Julia Landauer 49:11 we'll go for him. Good for him. Tell him I say hi. I will. So are there types of stunts or types of performances that you have not yet been able to do that you would really like to? Brett Smrz 49:25 Yeah, I mean, there's a lot I would love to do some more like jumps and crashes. That's really what I wanted to do. But really just I like, you know, car chase scenes. And so I've been able to do it twice. Now I've done the six underground and transformers and those were really like, you know, just the I was in the lead car, running through the streets doing really fun stuff. That's what I love to do. That's really what I just I want to have more of that. And that's yeah, that's my Julia Landauer 49:51 goal. Do you exclusively do that on four wheels? Or do you also do two wheels? Only Brett Smrz 49:55 on four wheels? I ride two wheels just for fun just on the street? Yeah. Julia Landauer 49:59 Um, I when I was 12, I wrote a dirt bike and I was my sister was driving our little goat like our yard or yard go kart and my, my brother who was probably like, five or six at the time on the back, and I stuck and then the dirt bike, I pushed my brother off as it was falling down, but then it fell on my inside leg. And my parents have let me get on this dirt bike was short song, which was so stupid, and I will never do that. But yeah, I got this nasty burn. And that was kind of the end of my two week two wheel career because I think that's as ballsy as I am. Brett Smrz 50:30 Yeah, those burns do not feel good. I've gotten one myself. Yeah, Julia Landauer 50:34 no, it's not fun. Were there any types of cars that you had to drive that were just so challenging to figure out? Like you mentioned some that were like, a little tough, but were there ones where you're like, oh, my god, how am I gonna get this, Brett Smrz 50:47 to be honest with you, most of the time, it's challenging, okay, the cars just aren't set up properly, that the a lot of times productions will try and do things as cheap as possible. And that's just their goal, they don't save, save money versus spending the money and make it look really, really good. They just want to have it cheap, and say, Just do it. And so just makes things really challenging. A lot of times the brake barely works, or so when you have to slide the car and you just have to work with it and just make it work. Or sometimes they just won't like they won't change the suspension in the cars to be you know, new like on on transformers, the car had all stocks, suspension, and it was 100,000 Miles blown shocks. And so I'm drifting it and it's hopping and I'm like, okay, you know, it's, it's hard. Yeah, it makes things hard. So or, like for instance, when we are up on the mountain for transformers, it's 14,000 feet up in the carburetor needs to be tuned to run at that altitude. And it wasn't and I you know, I was trying to get it tuned and stuff. And it was that was creating a you know, another because it was the power was, you know, fluttering power and just wasn't running amazing. But it worked out. And we had we had one car that was running. Okay, so it you know, it all worked out. But it's just like, it makes things challenging juggling all that. Julia Landauer 52:17 No, totally. And so do they bring engineers on to the set? Or is it just kind of the car shows up? And y'all gotta make it work? Brett Smrz 52:23 Yeah, no, they had no, they had a Porsche engineers out there for that. It depends if it's on a big film, like a big movie. And it's a car like that they're showcasing like Alfa Romeo was showcasing on six underground or Porsche, then they'll bring out their like a factory rep. And they'll have an engineer, just in case something needs to be like tuned out of the computer, if there's electronics and a newer car, or if or if it's like something that just needs to be like, that was an old Porsche, and the engine was very specific. So there was like a specialist for that. So yeah, so it's all mostly on films. They do that? Julia Landauer 53:02 Yeah. Yeah. Well, Brett, thank you for humoring me and letting me just totally nerd out on all these questions that I have of course about stump performing. I want to end on our if you're honest to segment have a little bit of rapid fire. So what is your favorite car that you've ever driven on set? Brett Smrz 53:21 The Alfa Romeo the Quadrifoglio was really cool. Julia Landauer 53:24 Amazing. Which musical artists are you listening to a lot right now? Brett Smrz 53:30 Oof. That's a hard one. I actually I listened to him on like shuffle all the time. So I don't have like a specific artist. It's always someone different. Julia Landauer 53:40 I hear you I'm exactly the same way. And like I like that question. Because I mean, Taylor Swift was always my answer. But like, I don't have a specific answer. Besides that. Brett Smrz 53:49 To be honest, if you were play a song, I probably couldn't tell you what artists it was fair. I just didn't know the song. And that's it. Well, Julia Landauer 53:56 especially like I feel like Spotify is like the playlist they make for you and you just put it on and kind of walk away and yeah, it's yeah, no, so Okay, cool. What's been your favorite country to go to? For I work Brett Smrz 54:07 I would say Italy, Italy was really cool. I've been there like five times now in different areas. And it's just really nice. Just the way that they live and their food. It's just a it's a nice country. It's beautiful. Yeah. Julia Landauer 54:24 Oh, yeah, sure. Are you comfortable saying least favorite place you've had to be on set. Brett Smrz 54:28 My least favorite place was most definitely India, India was pretty rough. We were in the slums that was on extraction. It was it was just a rough neighborhood. Yeah, in the slums of India, so that I to be honest with you. I was glad that I experienced it. And it was a you know, something I I'm happy that I was there and saw everything that was going on there. But it was not really my favorite. So I would like to go back there. Julia Landauer 54:55 No, I hear that. And then lastly, what is something that you're grateful for? For right now. Brett Smrz 55:01 I am grateful for my son Maddox. He's almost three years old and he is like the love of my life. He's amazing. He cheers me up every day and he's he's a great little kid. He's full of energy and loves motorcycles and spider man and yeah, so he's, he's my everything right now. Julia Landauer 55:18 He's a cutie. You liking dad life? Brett Smrz 55:21 I am. Yeah, it's fun. It's fun teaching him stuff and seeing him progress and learn and it's hard when I leave town and that that's why I try and bring him everywhere. But she's he's been. He's travelled quite a bit so far. He's his passport is quite stamped. Yep, it's good for Julia Landauer 55:39 him. Well, Brett, where can people find you online? If they would like to follow you? Brett Smrz 55:45 Yeah, so I have my Instagram is @smrzy SMRZY And I don't use it too much. But I'm on there, and I will interact with you for sure. Or smrz.com Is my website. You can find pretty much anything about me on there. Julia Landauer 56:00 If you need to hire a stunt performer, go check that out. And I will link both of those in the description. Brett, thank you so much for joining me on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer Brett Smrz 56:10 Thank you Julia. It was a lot of fun guys. Julia Landauer 56:13 If you liked this episode, please share please go follow Brett. And thank you as always for letting us be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.