The pressures of stunt performance
Starring in a Hollywood film may sound like a dream come true, but it comes with a healthy dose of pressure for everyone involved – especially if you’re the main stunt person on set.
For Joel Adrian, a 31-year-old stuntman, actor and martial artist from Sweden, this rings particularly true – having featured in major blockbuster productions including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The King’s Man and hit Netflix series, The Witcher, he’s well aware that a lot is riding on his shoulders when it comes to performing stunts. “When you’re on set, you’re expected to get the take as fast as possible because everything costs so much money to use and make and you’re being paid to perform specific movements.”
“I put myself under a lot of pressure – I was afraid I’d never work again”
Following the recent news that stuntwoman Dayna Grant is to undergo emergency surgery after suffering a traumatic brain injury on set, it’s clearer now more than ever that the risks stunt performers take are significant. The rise in popularity of action films means bigger, better and more complicated stunts are wanted and whilst on the plus side this put Joel in high demand, it also exposed him to more possibilities of harm.
This harm came when he landed badly on his knee whilst performing on set. Fearing that he’d not be able to work, he initially ignored it. But the injury got worse and by the December of 2018, his knee was no longer stable: “It was behaving strangely and I could no longer rely on it to carry my weight.”
“Common injury” for athletes
The injury turned out to be a torn ACL and meniscus – something that, for Joel, would require reconstructive surgery, much like Roger Federer underwent last year. “It’s not something everyone needs but given my line of work, I wouldn’t have a job without it,” he commented.
Without medical insurance in the UK, where he was based at the time, he set about researching the best facility to get the procedure done through Self-Pay, settling on New Victoria Hospital (a private hospital in Kingston-upon-Thames) after finding that it was highly rated and had a competitive price.
He then underwent a consultation with Orthopaedic Consultant Surgeon Paul Trikha, who specialises in Knee Ligament Construction. “He works often with sports people so I felt safe in his hands and sure that he’d be able to give me an accelerated recovery. I felt like he really understood me,” Joel recalls.
After reviewing Joel’s injuries and explaining exactly what needed to happen, Mr Trikha booked his surgery for four days later.
“This type of injury is common amongst professional sports people or people with active jobs, such as Joel,” said Mr Trikha. “The goal of the surgery was to provide stability. Due to the nature of his job, we knew he was at high risk of re-rupturing his knee, so we augmented his repair with a lateral tenodesis – a further stabilising procedure.”
Following the surgery, Joel recovered at New Victoria Hospital. “My stay was great – the nurses and other practitioners were really helpful and caring.” Being so far from home meant a lot to him. “It was a difficult time as I had no relatives around me, so I was really glad I went private – I was made to feel so comfortable and the communication was excellent.”
Given his general level of fitness, Joel thankfully made a speedy recovery. He was able to walk (with a limp) within a couple of weeks and within six months, he was back performing stunts.
For Joel, like many other professional athletes, in many ways, the surgery was life-saving. “The impact of not being able to perform the job you’re paid for can be huge – film projects involve thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars, so if you can’t perform, there’s a knock-on effect. Without the surgery, I would no longer have a job.”
About New Victoria Hospital
New Victoria Hospital is a private, charity owned hospital based in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey and is one of the few remaining independent hospitals in the country. It has provided a high level of service to the local community for over sixty years and is frequently ranked by patients as one of the top private hospitals in London.
The Hospital is registered with and regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and is fully compliant with their standards. The current CQC rating for the Hospital is “good”. The Hospital was proud to achieve this rating across all five categories – safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-managed.
It is owned by parent charity The Victoria Foundation. This charity helps to transform lives where there is an opportunity to do so – either through medical provision or by ensuring that young people destined to become the future generations of doctors are not prevented from doing so through lack of finances.