Tulsa King Stunt Coordinator Freddie Poole On Car Chases, Surviving Fire, And Taking Hits [Exclusive Interview]

You’ve been working with Stallone over a decade now, right?

It started back on Walter Hill’s “Bullet to the Head.” To be quite honest, we really didn’t have any interaction. It was limited, I should say. It was basically a “hello” in passing, but that happens your first time out. Fortunately, my size and look is very similar to Sly, so I started getting more and more calls and then, of course, you start to build the rapport. There’s a comfort level once an actor sees your face more than once and gets to know you. It’s been great.

When you develop that rapport and get to know someone better, does it help you portray them better?

It helps tremendously because you get to figure out the little small details and nuances: how they move, how they walk, even. Not just in action, but walking and certain little details that if I had only doubled them once or twice, I probably wouldn’t pick up. You learn their style as well. I mean, everyone knows Sylvester Stallone’s style, right? He’s Rambo, so not very difficult to figure out.

You’re never going to see Sylvester Stallone do these intricate martial art moves or anything like that. He even says it himself. “I’m not a martial arts guy.” I’ve heard that come out of his mouth more than once. So as a double, I’d always try to get with the coordinators that I have worked for that maybe don’t know him quite as well, and just get in their ears and let them know, “Hey, I’m not stepping on toes here, but this is what Stallone likes to do and this is what he doesn’t like to do.” I think it’s been a beneficial relationship over the years.

Even his walk and its swagger, just the way he swings his arms, is very him. Is that a small detail you pick up on?

Exactly what you just put down. Those are just small little details that even people pick up on set. When I’m there, I just naturally fall into that mode and then I’ll have our first AD or our second united come up and go, “Gosh, you really move like he does.” And I say, “Well, that’s what I’m here to do.” I’m going to make that as seamless of a transition as possible, so that when the audience is watching, you’re going to have a very difficult time knowing whether it’s him or whether it’s me. If we accomplish that, we’ve done our jobs.

What were some conversations you had on “Tulsa King” where you said, “Well, that’s what he likes, and this is what this character would probably do”?

Fortunately, I have the same process with every episode in regards to “Tulsa King.” It’s the initial meeting with our director and showrunner, but always in the back of my mind knowing, okay, I know what we’re going to get out of Stallone. I would voice that and I would be very upfront. I think there was an appreciation there from the directors that we’ve had when they’d say, “Well, I’d like for Sly to do this.” And I would say, “Okay, we can make that happen,” or, “Well, that’d probably be better if I did it as a double.” And then there were times when I said, “No, that’s just not going to work. We, unfortunately, won’t be able to do that.” They were very understanding.

They knew that there was history there from my end working with Stallone. And then of course, once we have the framework of the action in those initial meetings, I would turn right back around and go meet with Stallone personally and some of our bigger action sequences and then he and I would discuss it. He’s a legend. He’s an icon. He’s going to have his thoughts and input.

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