When it comes to defying death in Hollywood, Eddie Braun ranks at the top.
After meeting legendary daredevil Evil Knievel as a child, Braun was inspired to become a professional stuntman at age 17. He has since led a prolific Hollywood career spanning four decades and more than 250 films and television series, stunt doubling for such actors as Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Ashton Kutcher.
In 2016, Braun paid the ultimate tribute to his idol by attempting to complete the stunt that Knievel could infamously never achieve — his 1974 attempt flying a rocket-powered vehicle over Idaho’s Snake River Canyon. Braun’s efforts are documented in the Dwayne Johnson-produced film Stuntman, which premiered last week on Disney+.
“In the ’70s, everybody wanted to be Evel Knievel,” Braun told us during a recent video interview (watch above). “I mean, the man wore a cape. He was like a superhero rock star from Mars incarnate. Evel Knievel was everything.”
When it comes to his long (long) list of Hollywood stunts and the Snake River attempt, Braun quickly dispels the myth that stuntmen are fearless or have higher thresholds for fear than the rest of us.
“I get very fearful, I am scared of a lot of things,” Braun admits. “I am not this big adrenaline junkie that is fearless. And there’s nothing wrong with being afraid. Hell, I’m afraid all the time. It’s how one deals with their fear that defines them as a person.”
As for the actor Braun has had the best experience working with since entering show business in the early ’80s, that’s easy. It’s Charlie Sheen, whom Braun has doubled for 30 years and whom he considers one his closest friends.
Sheen, however, would have preferred Braun retire long ago.
“After five months of getting beat up, blown up, all sorts of things in that film, the very last day of filming, believe it or not, I had a little mishap on a motorcycle and I broke my leg on a compound fracture,” Braun recalls. “Which means the bones were sticking out.”
Sheen visited Braun at the hospital, and the actor was highly distraught by what he saw.
“Charlie came in so upset. I had to calm him down. And then he got frustrated and wrote a check for a million dollars and put it in my hospital bed and said, ‘I want you to stop doing stunts. If this is what it takes, I want you to stop.’ He wrote me a check for a million dollars. And back then, that was really a lot of money.
“Of course I didn’t cash the check, I put it away somewhere. You never know when you need it.”
Though Stuntman depicts how much more difficult his craft has become with age, Braun is still performing stunts today.
“You never want to be the last guy at the party. You always want to leave while the party’s still going good. You want to quietly exit stage left,” says Braun, who plans to slowly transition into producing. “As a stunt performer, you have to find a way to know when is when and when enough’s enough.”
Stuntman is now streaming on Disney+.
— Video produced by Nurys Castillo and edited by Steve Michel
Watch the trailer:
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment: