Lauro David Chartrand-DelValle [Interview]

 

Hello Everyone! And a happy Friday to you all. For those who are still looking forward to it…it’s the weekend! So, that can be exciting. Speaking of exciting, today’s guest is an absolute legend in the world of excitement in the world of cinema. It’s Lauro David Chartland-DelValle! Lauro is a filmmaker and legendary stuntman. And when I say legendary, I really mean it. He has worked on some of the biggest projects that you know and love. We get into many of them in the questions below, as well has in a truly fascinating photo gallery that Lauro was kind enough to share with us.

But, some of the projects that aren’t mentioned happen to also involved some close friends of ours here at TWS. For example: 2018’s Predator (co-written by Fred Dekker), I’ll Be Home For Christmas (co-written by Harris Goldberg), Mr. Magoo (co-written by Pat Proft), and Masterminds (directed by Roger Christian). And that is just me scrolling through IMDb taking mental note! Seriously Folks, from Jackie Chan flicks to the Indiana Jones franchise, to horror/thriller films from the greats like Tobe Hooper or Christopher Nolan, there is hardly a genre that Lauro hasn’t performed his magic in. He became a full on director a couple of years ago, which he will discuss below, and has some wonderful stuff in the works that we are all very excited about.

And as I alluded to earlier, Lauro was so kind to let us showcase and wonderful collection of behind the scenes shots he has done over the years. And we are oh so grateful that he did. Check them out at the end of the interview! Enjoy!

So without any further babbling on, please enjoy some wonderful words from legendary stunt man and filmmaker Lauro David Charland-DelValle!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you have dreamt of doing since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I believe I was born to be a stuntman, literally. When I was 8 years old I decided that’s what I wanted to be. I was watching a Chuck Norris movie with my Mother and said, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up!” She said, “Oh, you want to be a movie star like Chuck Norris?” I said, “No, I want to be like the guy he just kicked through the window!” She’s like, “Oh, you want to be a stuntman.”
From that moment on it was all I could dream of and always told people every where I went that I would become a stuntman one day. I’ve always been physical, tough, athletic and can pick up new skills pretty quickly, which translated perfectly into the world of stunts.
So I always had my eye on the ball and hung on to my dream. There were definitely detours and bumps in the road along the way and it wasn’t easy, but well worth it once I arrived.
I’ve been living my dream for 30 years now!
What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this project that still affects your work to date?
My first gigs in a sense were doing live karate demonstration with my instructors, Cameron Steuart and Master Fumio Demura. I would get beat up and tossed around fairly regularly and loved every minute of it during different live shows or events that we would demonstrate at.
As far as film and TV go, I started at the very bottom as an extra, or background performer as they are called today. I can’t even remember the name of the first TV show I ever worked on as I tried hard to forget that experience. I was a young father, married at the time and we had one boy and a baby girl on the way. I would work construction during the day and go look for work on film sets in the evening and at night. When I got a call to go to work finally, I had no idea how things worked on a set or especially prior to getting to the set.
So keep in mind I was being paid $5/hour. I parked in the wrong spot since I didn’t know what crew park was. I worked 6 hours that day and made a whopping $30!! When I returned to my truck I had a $40 parking ticket!! Pretty hard to feed your family on those kinds of wages. But I knew it would get better and I quickly learned the lay of the land on set and especially how I could track down and approach the stunt coordinators in order to get my dream job as a stuntman. My take away from that first job was to always practice the the 3 “L’s”, LOOK, LISTEN and LEARN!
But my first actual union stunt job was on the original TV series, MacGyver.  A fun show to get started on and I’m super thankful that Vince Deadrick Jr. gave me a shot and started my career.
You have done stunt work in some of the biggest films of the last 30 years. Whilst doing this you have worked with some pretty amazing filmmakers, including some friends of ours like Dwight H. Little and Roger Christian. I am curious to know in your opinion, and obvious experience, what sort of relationship should a filmmaker have with their stunt coordinators? What are the levels of trust that need to exist in order for a project to be successful, in regards to stunt work?
As far as filmmakers and their relationship with their stunt coordinators it’s very important to have a very clear and open communication with them on how you see the action in your film. If you have a vision of the action, lay it out clearly. Stunt coordinators are the action artist specialists and know how to make your action scenes cool and exciting, fresh and different, but most importantly “SAFE”!
Listen to them and their opinions on how to achieve your vision as they are the ones who know how to achieve it. There are always cost factors and time factors involved, so be willing and open to new ideas that may be a whole other way to shoot and achieve your action as they are also the ones with the most experience on cost and time that it takes to pull off any stunt sequence.
Many filmmakers have no idea and rely very heavily on their stunt coordinators to create the action, right down to re-writing some of the action scenes. Others are very clear and have envisioned their action sequences from their first read on the script.
The key points always come down to “COMMUNICATION”. Everything else falls in line after that.
In 2010 you moved into the director’s chair yourself on the action packed thriller film Born to Raise Hell, starring the legendary Steven Seagal. What made you want to make this move? How did this come about? And what was it about this story that made you want to make this shift?
My transition into the directors chair was a big surprise and an opportunity that came out of left field! I already had a lot of second unit directing experience, so this certainly helped me to be prepared. Second Unit directing is when you’re hired to direct a sequence or sequences in a production that shoot anything that does not require the lead actors of the project. In my case it was usually always action scenes since my background was in stunts.
I had just finished a film called A Dangerous Man with director Keoni Waxman. We really clicked and had a great short hand, similar styles and best of all, great communication. He and the producers asked me come on board their next film Born To Raise Hell in the same capacity, Second Unit director/Stunt Coordinator.
The film was originally going to be shot in Detroit and a week prior to starting prep, we were all informed that it would now be shot in Romania. Keoni had to drop out of the film. So I said, “I guess we’re not doing this film.” He quickly replied, “Ya, you are!”
He rallied the producers and sold them on the fact that I was the man for the job to direct this film. I already had a great working relationship with all the producers and had actually shot several scenes with the main actors on my second unit during A Dangerous Man.
So, the next thing you know, I was on a plane to Bucharest, Romania to direct my first film back in 2009.
It was a great opportunity for me. A lot of work, but I felt ready, prepared and knew I could do it. The Producers were great and allowed me a lot of creative control for a first time director. It was a fairly action heavy film, so that part was second nature. My main focus was working with the actors to get the best performance as possible.
Since my lead actor was one of the most notorious in the business for being difficult, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the experience, it really had nothing to do with the script or story I was given, it was all about the opportunity to learn and create.
When the film was done, the main Producer was very happy with the finished product and said, “You did it! You directed a film with Steven Seagal! You can direct anything!”
When you look back on your career spanning over 30 years, what would you say that you are the most proud of? Not necessarily one particular project per say, although it could be, but maybe as a whole?
A few of the projects that stand out and that I’m the most proud of are:
1. Rumble in the Bronx
2. Jade
3. The Last Samurai
4. End of the Spear
5. Insomnia
6. Nacho Libre
and most recently:
7. The Main Event (it just came out on Netflix on April, 10th, check it out!)
These are all stunt related and I’ll give you a quick breakdown as to why they are special to me. Some other films like Ballistic Ecks vs Sever and Case 39 get honourable mention because I got to do some huge gags, some of the biggest and most dangerous of my career.
I can’t really say that I’m super proud of anything I’ve directed just yet, but I have some coming up that I’m pretty sure I will be. Namely watch for Mexican Radio, a super fun Action/Comedy, and Crimson Creek, a scary Western/Thriller.
Okay, my Top 7:
1. Rumble in the Bronx – I was always a huge Jackie Chan fan, so I really, really wanted to work on that film and fortunately I was cast as a stunt actor and contracted to work for 10 days! 55 days later I finally finished! I was so happy and excited to get all those extra days since Jackie and Stanley added my character into so many more fights, etc. It was so much fun fighting and working with Jackie, it will always be one of my fondest memories in film.
(Jackie by the way is one of the nicest humans on the planet!)
2. Jade – I was asked by legendary stunt coordinator/stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker to come to San Francisco to work on this film. Buddy Joe is a true Hollywood stunt legend and I read books about him as a kid, long before I ever became a stuntman. So to work for him and get to do some great stuff was a dream come true and very special experience early on in my career.
3. The Last Samurai – The style of Martial Arts I studied for 20 years prior to doing this film were all Japanese styles, so being hired as a fight coordinator on this film was a great opportunity for me to open my tool box and do something authentic and realistic. Then the cherry on the cake was, well there were a few of them. First off the scope and size of this production was amazing and the biggest I had ever been on. I worked on it for 11 months, and worked in Los Angeles at the legendary Warner Brothers Studio as well as we filmed in New Plymouth, New Zealand for 5 months. (I love to travel by the way). I got to choreograph and design over 200 fights over the course of the film. Then add in training and working with the caliber of talented actors like Tom Cruise (also one of nicest and hardest working guys on the planet), Ken Watanabe, Hiro Sanada, Billy Connolly and many others was so amazing. At the peek of our battle sequences we had 1600 people on set! Insane!
4. End of the Spear – This production was a mind blowing, life changing experience. The film was based on an incredible true story and this is what drove me to go after this job and I’m glad I did. I was flown to Panama and we ended up casting the majority of our actors out of 3 tribal villages in the jungles of Panama. We ended up living with them for a week while we evaluated all of them and became very good friends. They have become like a second family to me and I try to go back for a visit every couple of years. I worked and stayed there initially for 4 months and have gone back numerous times. Twice more for other films, but many times just to visit the Emberá Tribe. Shameless plug for the Embera tribe, they have guided tours out into the jungle to visit their villages and learn about their culture. I highly recommend one of these tours!
You can see my training process with two of the young boys I hired to do stunts on the film on YouTube at https://youtu.be/hy5pT87rDuE
5. Insomnia – I was hired to stunt double for the great Al Pacino! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had some great gags on that film and got to rub elbows with Pacino and the late, great Robin Williams. What an incredible experience. Working with Director Christopher Nolan wasn’t bad either.
6. Nacho Libre – I mean come on! That movie was so much fun to work on, I always say, “I should have paid them what they paid me!” Jack Black is so nice and so much fun, he just cracks you up all the time. Very agile and physical too for such a hefty guy! I love Mexico, so that made it even better. Getting to play one of the wrestlers in a very acrobatic tag team match was also a huge highlight. I wasn’t cracked up about the pink wrestling outfit, but hey, that’s what director Jared Hess wanted and it added more humour I suppose. Mostly at my expense between me and the other stunt guys.
7. The Main Event – This is another hilarious wrestling based film that was so much fun to work on. From the top on down, all great people. Creative and fun. Director Jay Karas and I collaborated really well and he let me take the ball and run with it for all the action scenes and designing them. Again, great communication was the key. Young Seth Carr was a gem to work with. All the cast were great, professional, friendly and fun. It’s another one I’ll cherish for a long time.
All in all it’s about the relationships you form along the way as you expand your film family and the collaborative and creative world we are so fortunate to work in! It’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but it’s all worth when you see the smiles at the end of the day and an entertaining product on the screen.
What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?
For me the future is bright! I’ll keep doing stunts whenever I can and for as long as I can, since that is my first love. But with that being said I am actively developing, writing and will be directing some great projects coming up in the next couple of years. The two main ones that I mentioned earlier, but will mention them again to burn them into your minds are Mexican Radio, which is a hilarious Action/Comedy buddy movie. In a nutshell it’s about an East Indian kid who gets adopted by the head of the Italian mob in Las Vegas and reluctantly grows up to become their top Hitman.
The other project I’m really excited to film is a Western/Thriller I wrote called Crimson Creek, which is about a serial killer who terrorizes this small town back in 1882.
Ultimately my latest dream is to go some where tropical for the start of the year, write a new script, put it into production whereever in the world it needs to be filmed, direct the shit out of it, post it, put it out to the world, entertain audiences, take a vacation at Christmas time with my amazing lady and then do it all over again! One per year!
What was the last thing that made you smile?
So many things make me smile every day, all day. My family, especially my two grandkids. But the last thing to make me smile, was proof reading this interview as it just serves as a reminder that I am and have truly been living my dreams for the past 30 years. Hard work, perseverance and holding tight to your dreams is so worth it!
Never, ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something! If you can dream it, you can do it!
I smile every day because I believe I’m one of the most lucky and fortunate SOB’s on the planet!

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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