Bobby Holland Hanton is a strong dude with a great body – it just isn't his body. Well, not exactly. With over a dozen summer blockbusters to his name over the last three years, Hanton is arguably Hollywood's top stunt double. That means the Australian ex-gymnast has to be agile and tough, but also capable of morphing himself into the shape of the leading man he's doubling.
"It's up to you to get into the shape as close as possible of the actor you're doubling or you will lose the job," he explains. "That's how simple it is. If you're not matching up or the director doesn't believe that you’re a good double for him, they will just replace you."
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The easiest element of Hanton's job turns out to be the part where he falls off buildings and jumps through plate glass windows. The real work happens in the gym, where he focuses his efforts on different muscles depending on whether he's playing a Norse god, a British superspy, or an alien soldier with wolf DNA. Hanton walked Men's Journal through the various workouts he uses to take the form of the world's most famous leading men.
Chris Hemsworth is the anti-Tom Cruise. Six feet, three inches of Australian muscle, he's perhaps the only actor besides Dolph Lundgren that could be typecast as a Norse god. For Hanton, playing Hemsworth's body double meant hitting the gym hard and indulging in a little Loki-style trickery.
"First of all, I had to get 2-inch lifts to put in my costume boots," says Hanton. "It felt like I was doing stunts in high heels."
Hanton also had to focus on developing his arms, which, according to Asgaardian fashion, must be bare at almost all times. After doing circuits to shed weight and get cut (his waist size shrunk to a well-definied 29 inches), Hanton says he spent special sessions doing arm-specific work. Prior to actual shoots, he would pick up a dumbbell he'd brought to the set and do curls so he appeared more vascular.
"It was like a huge V," says Hanton. "It made me look a lot bigger than I actually was, which was great because I could actually move during fight scenes."