Chris Brewster: Super Stunts, Marvelous Martial Mayhem and Netflix’s DAREDEVIL

Chris Brewster as Captain AmericaStuntman and martial artist Chris Brewster's career is speeding along so fast you might mistake him for DC Comics' the Flash, but don't. Brewster is a Marvel man.

Not that he hasn't appeared as a stuntman in a few DC-based shows, including the 2011 failed Wonder Woman pilot—in a turbo-charged eight-year career, Brewster has already racked up more than one hundred credits in a variety of movies, television shows, and video games, and won a Taurus Award, the Oscar of the stunt world, for his work in Fright Night (2011). It would have been more surprising not to find a DC show on his resume.

But Brewster seems most at home in the Marvel Universe. "I'm in just about every superhero movie," he says, doing stunts, choreographing action sequences, and training the stars.

For example, Brewster had a month to train Chris Evan, for whom he doubled in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). They began with a giant trampoline, for aerial work. "First day, I told Chris to take it easy," he said, "but in a few minutes he was flipping all over the place. He was great!"

Brewster has also become a go-to guy for Marvel television shows. He's done stunts for Agents of Shield, and choreographed the moves that showcased Haley Atwell's ability to kick butt in the original short for Agent Carter (2013). Then he let her kick his butt as part of the stunt crew.

"Haley worked so hard; I know at the end of the first day she was sore and beat up, but she came back the next day and did it all over again with a smile," Brewster says.

Marvel + Netflix Daredevil series posterAnd as for his current gig, as stunt double for Charlie Cox, the new Daredevil? Brewster is taking the punishment dished out to Daredevil in every episode of the eponymous series, set to debut April 10, 2015, but his first comments aren't about his own excellence.

"I think Daredevil is going to blow everyone out of the water. The action on that show is so good," Brewster says.

"Charlie Cox is incredible...except for the fact he's not blind he is Daredevil. They couldn’t have found a better one. He's absolutely amazing."

With such generous praise for his costars and refreshing lack of attention to his own skills, Brewster seems like the kind of guy who would be welcome in any universe. No wonder Marvel keeps giving him work.

One possible cause of Brewster's down-to-earth manner is a good old-fashioned beat-down by one of his martial arts mentors.

"I started with Tang Soo Do and then got a black belt in Taekwondo," Brewster says. He racked up titles in both the North American Sport Karate Association-sanctioned tournaments and the National Blackbelt League-sanctioned tournaments in forms, weapons, and fighting.

Then when Brewster was about 17 years old, he began to study Shorei Ryu Karate at Sharkey's Karate, in Naperville, IL, and Sensei John Sharkey brought the high-flying kid back to earth. He arrived "with a lot of confidence," he says, but his confidence was misplaced, martially speaking.

"Sensei Sharkey had to tear down my martial arts and build me up from the basics. Literally we started from the ground up. At the beginning all I could do was punch."

According to Brewster, his problem lay not in his physical skills, but his intention. When he began with Sharkey, his intention was too much "art" and not enough "martial."

Stuntman and martial artist Chris Brewster in action

"I could throw a backflip with two twists, but Sensei said, 'If there isn't a reason for what you're doing, I don't want to see it." Brewster was forced to reconstruct his forms so the flash played second fiddle to the fight. And he became a better martial artist for it, he says.

"I credit Sensei John Sharkey with ninety percent of what I became in the martial arts."

That clarity of form and focus—not to mention that humility—stood Brewster in good stead when he stepped down from tournament competition and began to perform with Sideswipe, a martial arts/dance/acrobatics performance team. Brewster spent five years honing his skills, during which the team made it to the finals of America's Got Talent.

During that time he also met several stunt people, including stunt coordinators, and realized he wanted to be a stuntman. From the beginning he had an edge on other would-be stunt performers.

"The most elite performers and the best stunt and action heroes are the ones with the best technique. If they do a corkscrew round kick, they throw a proper round kick," he explains. "At the end of the day it's the true basics that allow the martial artist to stand above the competition."

To put it more simply, "Because I have the basics, the stunt coordinators and directors trust me not to kick their stars," Brewster says.

Of course, some stars could kick back.

One of Brewster's first big opportunities was as a stunt double for Lucas Till in a little movie called The Spy Next Door (2010), starring Jackie Chan. Brewster admits he was floored, but only metaphorically.

Chris Brewster: Stunt Man"Meeting Jackie was the only time I've ever been star-struck. He came over and introduced himself and I couldn't say a word."

As Jackie himself could have told Brewster, the profession of stuntman involves much more than fight scenes. But for Brewster that's part of the fun.

"One of my favorite things about the stunt world is that everybody comes from different backgrounds so nobody is an expert in everything. I'm always learning something new." Brewster gets together with fellow stuntmen Matt Mullins and Craig Henningsen—friends from his Sideswipe days—to work on other necessary skills, such as handling motorcycles, falling (including high falls), diving, and Parkour.

And then there was that scene in Fright Night with the fire. Lots of it.

"Thirty-six full body fire burns and 26 partial burns on top of that," says Brewster. Yet he's adamant that he's never been put in a position where he was asked to do a stunt he thought was unsafe. "In stunts a lot of times you're relying on your team and I've always had really good teams." For the fire stunt, Brewster was in the very good hands of legendary stuntman Bob Brown ("Bob Brown is my absolute hero in the stunt world") and Mark Chadwick, flame work expert.

Brewster's tournament and Sideswipe experience have also given him an advantage as he works toward his next goal: fight coordinator. He's already served as assistant fight coordinator and assistant stunt coordinator on the Daredevil series. As to whether the stunt work may lead one day to acting credits, Brewster is rather sanguine about the prospect.

"I admire acting a lot, but to me acting is like school work and stunt work is like recess. If you ask any little boy what he likes to do, he'd say he wants to play with his friends, jump off tall buildings and be a superhero."

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About Lori Ann White :
Find us on facebook Lori Ann White is a copy editor for Kung Fu Tai Chi. She is also freelance writer who has studied Shaolin Kung Fu with her Sifu Wing Lam for so many years that she is now studying Sun-style taiji with him instead.

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