An Interview with Tammie Baird
Tammie Baird is a stunt performer and actor. Known for her car stunts, wire work and martial arts, Tammie's credits as stunt performer include, Iron Man, Fast & Furious, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, CSI: Miami, Torchwood, Californication, The Walking Dead, Hot Pursuit, NCIS, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fear The Walking Dead, and Modern Family. She also portrayed Lorraine in Twin Peaks: The Return in a recurring role.
I spoke with Tammie about her career in the industry, her first credit as stunt performer and some of her most challenging, and favourite stunts that she has performed.
Your first credit as stunt performer was for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. How did it come about?
I got into the stunt business by booking an acting/stunt role on the feature film, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I have always wanted to be an actor, so booking this role was a dream come true to me and the first step in becoming a regular working actor.
Sadly, the scene was not in the final cut of the film, but you can see it in the behind the scenes interviews with director, Doug Liman.
Little did I know that booking the job on Mr. and Mrs. Smith would open up a new world and career for me. It was when the squibs went off that everything just lined up and I heard the “click”. I call it my, Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof moment without the booze. LOL! Everything just clicked and I knew that stunts was the career for me.
How much training is involved before each stunt?
A lot of training is involved for an all-around stunt performer. When you are not on set working, you should be perfecting your fights, air awareness, tumbling, falls, reactions, etc. If you don’t train on a regular basis then you will not be ready for your next work call.
What were some of your most challenging stunts?
Some of my most challenging stunts have been not because of the stunt itself, but because of an unforeseen element. Rain is one element that comes to mind. There was a stunt that I was doing with another stuntwoman. We were both in dresses and high heels, doing a foot chase. The chase started exiting a building, then running on cement concrete. Running on the cement sidewalk in high heels was not the challenge. Where the challenge took place was once we came around the corner, we were now running on a marble surface that is much smoother than cement. I am to tackle the stuntwoman once we come around the corner and then both of us are to go into a marble water fountain that is surrounded with hard, sharp edges. If I don’t make that tackle hard, then I risk both of us scraping our shins on those unforgiving sharp edges of that fountain. No one wants that! Remember we are wearing high heels, dresses and it just started to rain, making the final surface very slick. The stunt went great! I was successfully able to push off of the slick marble surface and tackle the stuntwoman with enough force to get both of us up and into the fountain landing exactly where the camera needed us to be. You may think that all of this is not a big deal, but trust me it is! Sometimes it can be a minor, last minute adjustment that changes up the entire stunt.
Have you ever been badly injured from one of your stunts? If so, what happened?
I have been banged up a quite bit and have had a lot of nasty bruises. I am grateful that I have not broken any bones at work because I have taken some pretty gnarly hits and falls.
What was your favourite moment as a stunt performer?
I love when I do a car hit, and I crack the windshield. It is that moment right before the driver hits their brakes and spits me off the windshield that I start to go into the broken glass. I love that feeling!
You’ve also starred in several films and TV shows, including a recurring role as Lorraine in Twin Peaks. Do you wish to pursue a career in acting?
I love my life as a stunt woman, but I would love to have the opportunity to do more acting. I am grateful for each role I book.
Do you have any advice for aspiring stunt performers trying to break into the industry?
My advice to future stunt performers is to be honest with your abilities. When you get to work, be at work and have a great attitude. Sometimes we work in less desirable locations, in bad weather and for long hours. It is so annoying when people are constantly complaining. Ugh! Don’t be negative. Remember that other stunt performers would love to be on set working on your stunt contract.