Dave Lea began training in martial arts in his early teens. He traveled the world learning from some of the greatest martial art teachers he could find, including Dan Inosanto who trained under Bruce Lee, and Joseph Cheng of Wing Chun fame. He also studied with Grand Master Leong Swee Lun of Shaolin 5 Animals in Malaysia.
Besides training in martial arts, he also began working in television, where he landed a recurring role on UK #1 TV show EastEnders. He then auditioned for 1989 Batman and was hired as the stunt/fight double for Michael Keaton.
His first movie in Los Angeles was Tango & Cash (1989) starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell where he was hired to train/choreograph and fight Sly Stallone and was awarded Best Fight Sequence. Tango & Cash (1989) helped put Dave on the map in the industry. Since then he has continued to work with ‘A’ list actors, preparing them for their action roles as well as working as a stunt coordinator and fight choreographer.
Michael Keaton asked Dave Lea to return to train and choreograph and to stunt and fight double for Keaton in Batman Returns (1992) which helped Dave get more attention from studio heads at Warner Bros and other main line studios.
Dave Lea has worked with numerous actors and is known for his ability to get actors ready for their action roles within a tight schedule. One example was when he was working with Sly Stallone on Demolition Man (1993), Producer Joel Silver introduced Dave to Sandra Bullock giving him only 7 days to prepare her for her role – and he did it! He has prepared numerous actors besides Sly Stallone and Sandra Bullock including Ashley Judd, Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ewan Mcgregor, Scarlett Johansson, Will Smith, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, Famke Janssen, Dennis Quaid, David Boreanaz and many other action stars.
Dave’s repertoire of choreography includes the many styles of fighting he has studied. These include close range tactical, flashy, penitentiary, street fighting, gang fights, period fights and whatever the script calls for. Dave studied dance for many years and adds that into his routines. Dave says:
Action is like dancing! Turn the music on and dance. The best action moves are the ones that simply appear in the choreography. You don’t look for them, you feel them.
Dave Lea takes his jobs seriously and continues to stay motivated, searching for new and innovative ways to enhance the action. No two actors are the same, and Dave creates different styles of action for every individual on every film, whether it’s a low budget indie or a high end studio budget.
When your passion is in the action, the fights and stunts will be true and real. I have learned from some of the best teachers out there. The least I can do is hold on to what they taught me. Dave added: ‘My mother had a tremendous influence on my physical and stretching abilities. She would do the splits and kick above her head, just because she could. She was so amazing. So really she was the greatest inspiration of all, and continues to be.’ Dave continues to train himself. He said: ‘It becomes a lifestyle and a wonderful challenge to keep the physical ability of kicking, stretching and keeping finely tuned to all that works.’ When it comes to movie fighting, he researches and creates the more unusual styles of fighting. He also took up Latin dancing to improve his choreography. Dave develops unique and explosive moves that even the most uncoordinated actor can perform to give a sense of reality to their performance and action scenes. ‘I do the impossible! God helps with the ‘miracles’. Camera ready, Real 2 Reel! And action!