They say never meet your idols, but for stunt performer and martial artist Ashlee Fidow, meeting the legendary Donnie Yen on the set of Mulan—where she was one of star Yifei Liu’s stunt doubles—was anything but disappointing. io9 recently spoke to Fidow about her Mulan experience (in addition to “fangirling” over Yen, it also included a harrowing underwater stunt that didn’t make the final film) and her high-flying career so far.
This is the third and final part of our series—check out Part 1 and Part 2—highlighting extremely cool stunt performers working on some of your favorite sci-fi and fantasy projects. Aiko Tanaka, the creator of this series, spoke with Fidow who said working with Mulan’s Chinese stunt team was a high point for her. “A lot of them came from Wushu backgrounds at a very top level, so I was able to learn a bit of Wushu throughout the whole process and actually pick their brains and watch them move. It’s awesome when you [collaborate] with other stunt performers around the world because you’re learning skills that you may not have at the time,” she says.
Liu had two doubles on Mulan, and Fidow says that working with the other stunt performer was a rewarding experience despite the language barrier between them. “We couldn’t speak to each other but we could kind of communicate with body language... the great thing with what we had to do was all physical expression, so it was like doing a dance together.”
Fidow admits that she didn’t think stunt performing would be her career at first. “I think with my lifestyle, having done martial arts when I was young, it kind of led me there by accident,” she says. About 10 years ago, a friend suggested she go out for an audition, which she nailed—leading to her first stunt role. “I remember jumping off some cliff at a quarry and doing my first high fall, and then thinking to myself, ‘Oh my god,’ just freaking out going, ‘This is what this is!’”
Obviously, she stuck with it—besides Mulan, her long list of credits includes The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Alien: Covenant, The Meg, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Avatar 2—and she has some real talk for anyone who’s thinking about plunging into the biz like she did: “My advice to anyone that’s starting stunts is making sure they know what they’re getting into to begin with. Knowing your limitations is a huge one. Every stunt person has different skills, every stunt person offers something completely different to a team, and it’s just knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are.”
You can see more from Fidow on Instagram.
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