Written by Kirstyn Brown | Lead Photo by Paul Smith
Explosions. High speed car chases. Fights with Vin Diesel. For stuntwoman Ingrid Kleinig, it’s just another day at the office.
Ingrid Kleinig has made a living out of cheating death. The professional stunt double has fought battles in The Hobbit Trilogy, leaped over fire in Mad Max: Fury Road, and goes head-to-head with Vin Diesel in the 2016 release The Last Witch Hunt. (She’s also currently filming for next summer’s highly anticipated Suicide Squad, but she stays tight-lipped about that one.) It’s a career path suited to a unique kind of woman; one that’s exceptionally skilled, ridiculously fit, and virtually fearless. But luckily for Ingrid, she meets all the criteria.
Making her Move
With a background in dance and penchant for extreme sports, Ingrid got her start when she joined Australian aerial theatre troop Legs on the Wall to perform in the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. “My experience working with this company gave me a wealth of physical vocabulary that lent itself precisely to the stunt world,” she says. Not only did her grace and coordination as a dancer help her pick up martial arts quickly, but family history gave her advantage, too. “I come from a long line of professional drivers, so vehicles became an early niche.”
Training for Success
With such a physically demanding job, staying fit is non-negotiable. “As a stunt performer it’s imperative to train for functionality, not just form,” she says. Ingrid’s six-day a week training schedule includes low-impact cardio and full-body workouts, like pilates, swimming and yoga, to maintain her screen-worthy physique but also accommodate for minor injuries and fatigue acquired during a hard day on set. Her diet of mostly in-season foods is void of almost anything processed and packaged (with the exceptions of wine and chocolate). But for her, it’s a way of life, and not just part of the job. “Fitness for me is a lifestyle, not a chore.”
She prefers not to use the term “dangerous” as they take precautions onset to prevent injuries, but there’s no denying that some of the stunts come with risks. And while she still gets nervous now and then — riding a motorcycle head on into a van that was on fire, for instance — she refuses to let fear get in the way of her job. “I don’t entertain the notion of injury,” she says. “A moment of fear or doubt creates a hesitation that interferes with the body’s natural instinct. That’s the moment when injuries occur.”