Mike Carpenter -- Stunt Double for Jared Padalecki and Tom Ellis
Originally posted June, 2018.
You have probably seen Mike Carpenter many a time, without realizing it -- Mike has been Jared Padalecki's stunt double since the show began airing back in 2005. For my Lucifer fan readers, he should be familiar as well -- he was Tom Ellis's stunt double when the show was being filmed in Vancouver, for seasons 1 and 2.
Tell us about the process of being chosen as Jared’s stunt double.
When Supernatural started I was around 5-6 years into my stunt career. I was hired for a job on a little independent film by a well known stunt coordinator but the name of Danny Virtue. On the particular day that Danny needed me to work he wasn’t able to be on set so he asked Lou Bollo to come in and cover for him. I had sent Lou my resume in the past but this was the first time I had the opportunity to meet Lou face to face. We had a great day of work and I didn’t think much beyond that until a couple weeks later when my phone rang, it was Lou. He asked me if I’d be interested in working on a new show he was hired to stunt coordinate called “Supernatural”. He told me our meeting was perfect timing as he had a 6’4” tall lead actor he needed to double on this action series and he was worried he would have a difficult time finding a good match. Lou and I’s chance encounter was meant to be.
When I showed up on set and the producers saw me they were very much relieved as I was a very good match for Jared. Jared and I hit it off right out of the gate. We both share a little bit of the same personality type by nature. We like to work, we like to joke around, and don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’ve always teased each the way guys do when they appreciate one another. So basically I taught Jared how to act and he taught me how to do stunts (joking). This is the type of banter him and I will have with one another all in good fun. We were friends right from the beginning.
How do you prepare for your scenes?
When it comes to scene prep it varies. As a stunt double it is very important to be multi-faceted. To be successful in the stunt game one has to be capable and confident enough to work under pressure situations with a large crew watching. It can be really embarrassing to screw up on set, especially if one is not prepared as performer. Everyone at some point in their career blows a shot but if you make a habit of it, your phone will make a habit of not ringing for jobs. The worst thing a person can do is take a job you don’t feel comfortable with, as you can throw an entire shooting day into the toilet. There is an inherent responsibility that comes with the job, and respecting the other creative bodies around you that have worked hard to make a written scene come to life. Film is a collaboration and you do not want to be the cog in the wheel that kills a scene.
With this all being said, we train martial arts, driving, motorcycles, horseback, performance conditioning, the list goes on including acting. Some of the best stunt performers out there have studied acting as that is what the job basically is. We are action actors. Learning these skills among others all help when you get a call for a job.
You’ve been in 157 episodes of Supernatural; what has been your favourite stunt, and what has been your most difficult?
As far as all the stunts I’ve done on Supernatural, I’d still say the scariest was the gag when Sam gets run over by a car. The most fun are probably sliding around in the stunt car. Some of the wire gags can be exhilarating but I would not describe them as fun as that ground comes up pretty fast and hard. Playing some of the characters can be fun. I was the Scarecrow in season 1, the Anti-clause, I auditioned and was cast for a part as a vampire that Dean decapitates and at the beginning of season 13 I was one of Asmodeus’s henchmen. I can also tell you the end result of my characters too. They never live!
Tell us about working with Jared, and the cast of Supernatural.
Working with the other cast on Supernatural has been a joy. I say rest of the cast because I’m not sure if the general public realizes stunt people are considered cast and fall under the category as “principal.” Jensen, Jared, Misha, Jim Beaver, Mark Pellegrino, Samantha Ferris, Ruth Connell, the list goes on -- have all been a pleasure to work with. That’s the great thing about this show, relationships matter. The higher powers don’t seem to go for diva attitudes and everyone knows they are replaceable once those powers sit down at the keyboard. Everyone appreciates the opportunity and it shows with quality of the show. The present producers, Phil Scriggia and Jim Michaels, have done a great job of developing a cast and crew that all seem to jive together, which is not an easy thing to do when people are working 60-70 hour weeks.
Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories to share, for both Supernatural and Lucifer?
As far as behind the scene stories to share about the people I work with, I prefer to keep those behind the scenes. They need to have their private lives, but I can tell you this, guys like Tom Ellis and Jared Padalecki are the type of people that you can sit down in a pub with eat a plate of nachos and enjoy a football game with whether that be English or American.
Okay, I have one with Tom I will share though. In season one we had the Vette out on an airport runway doing a bunch of driving stunts, racing a private jet up and down the tarmac. The airport had very strict rules when it came to speeds around the hanger area. One thing about that Vette is that it likes to go fast. A few times out to the runway Tom was driving and he has a bit of a lead foot. Throughout the day some of the airport workers were giving us the stink eye. At the end of the day I was driving the car back and one of the workers was just looking for an opportunity to give the star shit for speeding-well Tom and I look a lot a like, especially when we are in wardrobe, so when we were near wrapping I was driving the car back through the hanger area when one of the workers came charging out at me, “I don’t give a bleep who you are and think you are! Any more speeding around here I’m shutting you guys down!” Well first off, I wasn’t speeding, second off I’m not the lead and third off It looks like I’m destined to be taking all the hits for Tom in more ways than one!
Do you have a favourite and/or most difficult Lucifer stunt?
All that being said this along side of the airplane chase the cage match was also one of my favourite stunts we did on Lucifer. The cage match was a lot of work, we rehearsed for two weeks for that fight with DB (Amenadiel) and the boys got themselves in good shape. I had to get my A game on, they were killing me I don’t thing I ate sugar for a month and went really clean on my diet. The funniest thing about that day was we needed to get tanned for the scene. I figured as per the make-up girls I could get a number 3 spray and I’d match up to Tom. He shows up the next day and he’s so frigging dark I thought he was DB! I had to go back to the makeup trailer and get a few darker layers put on. We had a real chuckle out of that. I just love that guy, we had a lot of fun together. I was sorry to see the show leave town and then cancel. Tom’s a great talent-I keep bugging him to throw his name in the hat to be the next Bond, I think he would be a good one. There was also the time when I was stranded in Texas due to weather and I asked Jared if I could catch a ride back to Vancouver on the plane with him. He said sorry Carpy I’ve left already, looks like I’m doing my own stunts tomorrow have fun hanging with Bush in Houston!
If you could appear on Supernatural as a character, what sort of character would you be?
If I could ever play a full on character on Supernatural I would want to be a half brother to the Winchesters. John was a good looking guy and on the road a lot-so I’d say there is a pretty good chance this is possible. They would both love me and hate me. They’d be resentful at their dad but love me cause I’m Canadian and tracked down the abominable snowman.
For those interested in getting into stunts as a career, what advice do you have?
Stunts as a profession is much like acting, its feast or famine. If someone wishes to pursue it as a career I’d say start tracking down places where they train. Martial arts is a big one. It’s a lot of networking on top of natural athletic ability, acting and luck of the draw. One of my long-time stunt friends always says if you are meant to do stunts for a living and you don’t find it, it will find you.
Do you have any upcoming productions you’d like to share?
Right now I’m working on a new Netflix series called the “The Order”. So far it has been a lot of fun and super busy. I can’t reveal too much but I have been sharing stunt coordinator duties on it as well as playing one of the major characters. I will give you a clue: it’s big and furry and does not have a lot of dialogue as of yet. *
Photos are from Mike's Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/stuntcarpy/.