Holly Raczynski with Van Helsing star Kelly Overton. (Photo contributed)                                Holly Raczynski with Van Helsing star Kelly Overton. (Photo contributed)

Holly Raczynski with Van Helsing star Kelly Overton. (Photo contributed) Holly Raczynski with Van Helsing star Kelly Overton. (Photo contributed)

Shuswap karate instructor doubles for Hollywood’s big stars

Holly Raczynski’s latest job was as a stunt double on the upcoming X-Men film, Dark Phoenix

Holly Raczynski knows how to take a hit.

Through the course of her career, she’s also become accustomed to taking kicks, throws, bullets, blasts, explosions and the odd tumble down a flight of stairs.

When the Provincial Martial Arts club instructor isn’t teaching karate to her Salmon Arm and Sicamous students, Raczynski can typically be found in the Lower Mainland doing stunts on TV and movie sets. Her filmography, available on IMDB.com, includes movies Watchmen, Tron: Legacy and Tucker and Dale vs Evil, while her TV career includes work on Smallville, Fargo, Wynonna Earp and Supergirl. As of late, she’s had frequent work on the set of Arrow, about DC Comics superhero the Green Arrow, and is the stunt double for Kelly Overton, star of the Syfy Channel series Van Helsing.

Raczynski also recently had a two-month stint doubling for Sophie Turner (aka Sansa Stark/Queen of the North of Game of Thrones fame), who reprises her role as Jean Grey in upcoming X-Men film, Dark Phoenix.

“She’s the lead character in that one,” said Raczynski. “I worked with her a whole pile – she was great, she was amazing to work with.”

Unfortunately, what was supposed to have been a four month job for Raczynski was reduced to two due to an injury sustained during one of her stunts on the X-Men set, putting her out of work for about seven months. Raczynski acknowledges it’s an inherent risk of the profession.

“All the stunts we do, they’re all calculated risks,” said Raczynski. “I’m not a daredevil. We train for what we do. We know how to fall, we know how to move our body through space, we know how to control those elements the best we can, and you always take all the safety precautions you can.

“That said, I mean, it’s like any job, you can hurt yourself doing anything.”

Raczynski’s Hollywood North career began through a contact in the martial arts world. He gave her the name of a stunt co-ordinator in Calgary. Eventually she and the co-ordinator met. She gave him a video of herself demonstrating her various martial arts and gymnastics skills.

“Then I got hired to do a stair fall,” laughs Raczynski. “My first stunt wasn’t martial artsy, it wasn’t really gymnasticy – I had to slip on marbles in this show and fall backwards headfirst down a set of stairs. So that was my first stunt, we shot it twice, it went great. And then from there, it kind of started to snowball.”

Raczynski says her big break came when she auditioned for Watchmen. The team doing the stunt co-ordination for the film, U.S.-based 87eleven, was impressed by her fighting skills, but found her acting skills lacking.

“I could fight, really fight, but real fighting is different from movie fighting… it’s all reactions,” said Raczynski. “So they gave me a smaller role in Watchmen, but through all of that they invited me out to train. I went to LA and trained with those guys, and that’s where I learned more of the reactions and more of the fun stuff. So that was a huge honour to be invited out there. And then Tron: Legacy came along and it was the same stunt crew who got hired to do that job, so they phoned and hired me…”

Not one to get star struck, as her busy life allows little time for watching the shows she’s in, Raczynski speaks highly of the celebrities she’s had an opportunity to work with.

“I guess people in any industry get a little high and mighty sometimes and whatever, but in my experience everybody has been amazing,” said Raczynski. “Because, I mean really, we’re the ones making them, or their character, look cool, look amazing.”

Though it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly what a stunt will entail, given how a scene will often change from how it’s scripted to how it’s filmed, Raczynski says her training, both with fellow stunt people and as a martial artist, plays a huge factor in her ability to do the job. This is something she’s shared with her karate students, two of which had an opportunity to watch Raczynski from the set of Van Helsing to see how things are done.

“What I’m trying to do with the karate program in town here is help give kids the opportunity to reach out to that kind of thing…,” said Raczynski. “You get your martial arts background and get a bit of your tumbling and knowing how to fall and these things, that’s huge. You’ve got to go in with something. You can’t just go, ‘I want to do stunts because I think it’s cool.’ Not enough. You’ve got to be physically able, you’ve got to be strong, you’ve got to know how to take direction well, especially with young ones, they’ve got to be able to understand all that stuff and be able to take criticism and not take it personally… That’s why I like keeping the karate program going here, even though I’m working lots, because it can provide such an opportunity for kids to develop these skills to be able to go into something bigger.”

Looking forward to another season of Van Helsing, Raczynski says she enjoys her work – the hits, the falls, the explosions – and hopes to keep doing for as long as she’s willing.

“So long as my body is healthy and strong and I’m physically able to and feeling good about it, I can’t see a reason for not doing it,” said Raczynski.


@SalmonArm
lachlan@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Holly RaczynskiSophie TurnerstuntsX-Men

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Shuswap karate instructor doubles for Hollywood’s big stars

Just Posted

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

Barley Station Brewpub’s owners Stu and Kathy Bradford and longtime head chef Wally Bonn celebrated 15 years in business on Saturday, Jan. 23. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Snapshot: Salmon Arm’s Barley Station Brewpub celebrates 15th year in business

The highwayside pub is lookign forward to the future.

The Salmon Arm Elks Lodge kept up their charitable giving despite COVID-19 restrictions by holding a successful 50/50 draw. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Elks support charitable giving with succesful 50/50 draw

The winner of the draw took home over $4,000.

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison is comfortable waiting his turn to be vaccinated for COVID-19, as per the B.C. government’s updated vaccination timeline released on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (File photo)
Province’s vaccine timeline a shot of hope for Salmon Arm mayor

Mayor Alan Harrison sees majority of residents taking precautions against COVID-19

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swan and eagle numbers

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

Lake Country firefighters helped deliver a healthy newborn baby Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Pixabay)
Lake Country firefighters help deliver baby boy

Firefighters from the Winfield hall assisted with the birth of a healthy newborn Thursday morning

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Skaha Middle School
Arrest made in indecent acts near South Okanagan schools

A 32-year-old man was arrested and released on strict conditions, say police

Most Read