The Fall Guy – A love letter to action movies and the hard-working and under-appreciated crew of people who make them

Pictured above: L to R: Ryan Gosling, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ben Jenkin, Logan Holladay, Justin Eaton, and David Leitch on the set of The Fall Guy. © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

From a screenplay by Hobbs & Shaw screenwriter Drew Pearce, and based on the television series created by Glen A. Larson, The Fall Guy, Leitch’s early days in the industry were marked by years of hard work and determination as he honed his skills behind the scenes before transitioning into directing. “My love for films began in my high school years,” he says. “Action comedies and dramas like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard left a lasting impact on me. I wanted to be a part of the magic behind the scenes. I had a background in martial arts, and a mix of timing, mentorship and persistence led me to the stunt department.”

A pivotal moment in Leitch’s career was working as Brad Pitt’s stunt double on Fight Club, which offered a front-row seat to observe director David Fincher’s meticulous approach to filmmaking.

“As a stunt performer, I had the privilege of watching and learning without anyone rushing me off the set,” Leitch says. “When I saw Fincher work, I became hooked on the filmmaking process. As I continued my stunt career, I began my own filmmaking journey on the side. I filmed shorts, edited them and focused on choreographing, shooting and presenting action sequences as cohesive stories to directors. This was my transition from performing stunts to designing action and choreography.”

But Leitch’s aspirations went beyond choreography. “I wanted to direct,” Leitch says. “The opportunities to shoot major action sequences as a second-unit director started coming my way, but I knew I had to keep pushing for that goal of directing a full feature. The moment came with John Wick.

Although the official director credit for John Wick was attributed to Chad Stahelski per the Director’s Guild guidelines, it is widely acknowledged that Leitch directed the film alongside Stahelski, a partnership championed by Leitch’s producing partner, wife and former manager, Kelly McCormick. Since then, Leitch has directed global box office smash-hits Bullet Train, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde.

L to R: Ryan Gosling (as Colt Seavers) and Director David Leitch on the set of THE FALL GUY. © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

In 2019, Leitch and McCormick founded 87North Productions, a world-renowned production and action design company that has, in just a few short years, created films that have garnered a staggering $2.9 billion at the worldwide box office. But despite his directorial success, Leitch remains deeply connected to his roots. “My career is built on 20 years of being a stunt performer, taking hits, riding wires, crashing cars, being set on fire and working closely with every department in the industry,” Leitch says. “My love for moviemaking kept me going. I learned the film production model inside and out through years of working with various departments. If you asked me to stop directing movies and go back to being a stunt coordinator, I’d still be thrilled because there’s no place I’d rather be than on a movie set, making art with my friends.”

As the success of 87North continued to ascend, Leitch and McCormick were presented an exciting opportunity when Entertainment 360 co-founder and producer Guymon Casady approached Leitch to direct The Fall Guy and invited McCormick and Leitch to produce it alongside him.

The project was inspired by Glen A. Larson’s 1980s television show of the same name, which aired on ABC from 1981 to 1986. It starred the charismatic Lee Majors as Colt Seavers, a Hollywood stuntman doubling as a bounty hunter. The show, which was infused with thrilling stunt sequences and a good dose of humor, achieved cult classic status and earned substantial success across its five-season run. Alongside Majors, the show’s other main characters included Heather Thomas as Jody Banks, a fellow stunt performer, and Douglas Barr as Howie Munson, Colt’s affable and tech-savvy sidekick and cousin.

“My journey with The Fall Guy began over 20 years ago,” Casady says. “The show was my absolute favorite show growing up, and that motivated my year-long pursuit of the show’s creator, Glen Larson, for the rights. A dozen lunches and an endless onslaught of impassioned correspondence later, I convinced Glen to entrust me with his rights. I immediately sold it to Warner Bros., where shortly thereafter, the project stalled. There were then other attempts by other creative teams over the years to make the movie, but to no avail. In 2020, I found myself thinking about The Fall Guy, and thus set forth on the journey all over again. After convincing the estate to entrust me with the rights, I decided to approach things differently this time. I employed an altogether new strategy, which was to put the movie together entirely, outside the system, before taking it to the market. And this time, I knew I wanted to start with a director. For me, there was only one choice—David Leitch. I loved his movies, and I loved him, having gotten to know him previously on another project. But it was his background in stunts that made him the perfect guy. David and Kelly said yes, and thus started an exciting next chapter and collaboration.”

Leitch and McCormick immediately recognized an undeniable connection to the material and the potential that the project gave them to showcase the world of stunts to a broader audience. “We had always kept an eye on it, and when it finally became available and Guymon shared it with us, it was impossible to resist taking a closer look and seeing if we could put our own David Leitch twist on it,” McCormick says. “This was a unique opportunity for David to showcase his intimate knowledge of the world of stunts. David’s personal stories from two decades of life on set made it abundantly clear that this was the story that he had to tell.”

L to R: Emily Blunt is Judy Moreno and Ryan Gosling is Colt Seavers in THE FALL GUY, directed by David Leitch. © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

He’s a stuntman, and like everyone in the stunt community, he gets blown up, shot, crashed, thrown through windows and dropped from the highest of heights, all for our entertainment. And now, fresh off an almost career-ending accident, this working-class hero has to track down a missing movie star, solve a conspiracy and try to win back the love of his life while still doing his day job. What could possibly go right?  Ryan Gosling stars as Colt Seavers, a battle-scarred stuntman who, having left the business a year earlier to focus on both his physical and mental health, is drafted back into service when the star of a mega-budget studio movie—being directed by his ex, Jody Moreno, played by Emily Blunt —goes missing.


“Kelly and I have a fantastic collaborative relationship with Drew,” Leitch says. “We had previously worked together on Hobbs & Shaw, and our rapport and sensibilities aligned perfectly. Our goal was to pay homage to the original series, but we wanted to add our unique twist on it and transform it into more of an origin story. In our version, our protagonist, a stuntman, discovers that his stunt skills are akin to superpowers. Drew came up with a brilliant concept that lent a noirish vibe to the story while combining investigative elements from the original show.”

Pearce joined the film in November 2019 and dove headfirst into the script development process. “I prepped two versions—a big, Mission Impossible-type movie, and the other, something smaller, almost noir…but still with giant stunts. We decided very quickly to tap more into the reality of David’s stuntman background, which would not only ground the action but also the romance that was increasingly becoming the most important aspect of the film. So the whole thing already has an authenticity running through its DNA.”

Pearce has an exceptionally personal connection to the 80s show and was thrilled for the opportunity to fulfill one of his childhood dreams. “There is a battered old Hot Wheels that sits in a display case on my writing desk,” Pearce says. “It was a gift from my father when I was six years old—my most prized toy, the GMC from the 80s TV staple The Fall Guy. It was our show. When I think of him, I still kind of think of Lee Majors (though they look nothing alike). And I really wanted to be a stunt person. Each summer, every single day, I trained. I had a course all worked out along the street and I would time myself on the crappy digital watch my dad got me for my birthday. Every day, I tried to shave seconds off my performance. Ultimately, I would discover that I had a gigantic fear of heights, and that killed the stunt person career path. But instead, with this movie… I at least got to write about it. There’s an assumption that when a movie as big as The Fall Guy comes out, that it’s impersonal—just a piece of available intellectual property or a product to shift Big Gulps. Nothing could be further from the truth with this movie.”

With the narrative blueprint in hand, the team set their sights on finding their leading man, Colt Seavers—a role that required charisma, allure and unparalleled talent. The team set out to find someone who not only embodied the character but could also contribute to shaping the essence of the story. Enter Ryan Gosling, whose talents extend beyond the screen. Gosling’s resume is a testament to his magnetic presence and versatility, and his seamless transition into a multifaceted role behind the scenes sets him apart. So, McCormick, Leitch and Casady were thrilled when Gosling not only agreed to embody Colt Seavers, but also take on the role of producer, adding an extra layer of creative synergy to the project. “When we presented our vision to Ryan, he was immediately enthusiastic,” McCormick says. “We knew he was discerning about his projects, so his immediate interest was a pleasant surprise. From there, we fine-tuned the pitch, put it on camera and created a story pitch. When we took it around town, everyone wanted it, and we ended up partnering with Universal because of our great history of collaboration with them.”

Ryan Gosling is Colt Seavers in THE FALL GUY, directed by David Leitch. © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Gosling eagerly embraced the chance to be part of a film that would illuminate the remarkable achievements of the stunt community. “The opportunity to work with David Leitch was so exciting to me because I’m a fan, but also, the fact that he’s a stunt performer who’s making a film about the stunt community just felt like the perfect fit,” Gosling says. “Setting an action movie within the world of the people who make action movies felt so authentic because they’re the only people who really know how to achieve those things. One of my first acting jobs was on a kids’ action show called Young Hercules, so I’ve almost always had a stunt double. In my experience with stunt doubles, they’ll come in, do all the cool stuff, risk everything, then disappear into the shadows, and the actors take credit for what they’ve done. So, it’s exciting to be part of something that shines a spotlight back onto them and highlights all of the incredible things that they do and the risks they take to do it.”

The initial pitch for The Fall Guy differed significantly from the final script and what we see on screen. “Our initial vision was to tell the story of a blue-collar hero, a la Rocky, who was not only able to take a punch, but could get back up again and again after getting knocked down,” Casady says. “However, as we delved deeper into the development of the story, the tone shifted to become more comedic and fun. Ryan is incredibly smart and intuitive. His instincts about the character played a significant role in shaping the direction of the movie and resulted in us coming up with an even more original and entertaining story.”

As the filmmakers developed the narrative, the notion of a profound love story began to take shape. “Ryan played a pivotal role in this aspect,” McCormick says. “He recognized the potential for genuine romance within the story, tapping into his unique ability to convey authentic love on screen. And the romance provides a relatability that grounds the entire story and makes it so compelling. Everyone can connect with the universal themes of love, growth and self-actualization, and that’s what makes this story so unique and special. Colt’s motivation, love, became the driving force behind the film’s wild and daring actions.”

As the narrative evolved, so did the setting, with Sydney, Australia, providing a picturesque backdrop. The location served as a creative canvas for Leitch and McCormick’s vision to celebrate the hardworking men and women behind the camera by putting them in front of it. “When you work on a film, you forge bonds with your crew members that often turn into lifelong friendships,” Leitch says. “You spend so much time with them that it’s almost impossible not to become friends. These key collaborators are not only essential to the creative work we do but are also our dearest friends. Working together, sharing the highs and lows of a 15-hour filming day, it’s only natural that these relationships become deeply meaningful. Returning to Australia for The Fall Guy allowed me to reunite with many friends and colleagues I had worked with in the past, be it on The Matrix sequels or The Wolverine. Some I hadn’t seen in a decade or two, but it felt like we just picked up where we left off.”

McCormick adds: “We are fortunate to have a dedicated, close-knit movie family, a team of incredibly talented professionals, who have been with us on this journey and worked with us on various projects over the years. The Fall Guy allowed us to not only celebrate the stunt community but also shine a light on those individuals who operate behind the camera and play crucial roles in the filmmaking process. We value these collaborations, and it’s our way of paying tribute to cinema and the amazing crew members we’ve worked with across the globe.”

The term ‘fall guy’ has a rich history in the stunt world, originally referring to the performers who take physical hits for the sake of creating cinematic magic. “They’re the ones falling off horses, bikes or down a set of stairs,” Leitch says. “But in our film, we’ve given this term a broader meaning. It’s evolved into a metaphor that we use in various ways. Our fall guy is not just a stuntman taking falls for the camera; he’s someone unfairly taking the blame for something he didn’t do. He’s also a man who’s fallen deeply in love, willing to risk it all to reclaim the love of his life.”

And for Leitch, The Fall Guy is much more than a filmmaking endeavor. “The Fall Guy, to me, is truly a love letter to stunt performers and the unsung heroes of the film industry—the highly skilled and talented artisans who contribute their passion and dedication to the art of moviemaking,” Leitch says. “It’s a tribute to the production designers, cinematographers, grips, electrics, PAs, ADs, and everyone in between who pours their hearts and souls into crafting the magic of storytelling on screen. This project holds a special place in my heart because it weaves in real-life anecdotes from my journey as a stunt performer and a part of the crew.”

Aaron Taylor-Johnson in THE FALL GUY, directed by David Leitch. © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Glen A. Larson, the creator of The Fall Guy TV series, died in 2014, but his work shaped American culture throughout the 1970s and 80s, with iconic, and still-beloved, series that included Knight Rider, B.J. and the Bear, Mangum P.I., Quincy M.E. and Battlestar Galactica. And although Larson didn’t live to see the film make it to the big screen, Casady thinks he’d be proud of what they’ve achieved. “Looking back on Glen Larson’s contributions, his storytelling instincts and collaboration were invaluable during the initial stages of the movie back in 2003,” Casady says. “While the film’s direction veered from the original concept, we hope to honor his legacy by reinterpreting it for a new audience. Larson’s prolific output, including having eight network television shows on air simultaneously, speaks volumes about his extraordinary talent and lasting impact on the industry.”