Martial artist Gary Stearns or Gary Ray Stearns is an American actor and stuntman. Some of you know Gary for his portrayal of Yoshimitsu in the Tekken (2010) film or for his role of a Skull Warrior and stunt double in the Mortal Kombat: Conquest (1998-1999) television series, but that is far from all Gary is known for.
Gary Stearns was a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. He began studying Chinese martial arts when he was 10 years old. He was spotted on an ESPN martial arts competition and was approached for a role in TNT’s syndicated series Mortal Kombat: Conquest (1999) and this opportunity introduced him to Los Angeles stunt coordinators and helped him move into the entertainment industry as a stuntman. Since then he can be seen in many high profile films and television shows either as a stunt performer, fight choreographer, or fight coordinator.
Some of Gary Stearns films and television work includes The Nice Guys (2016) where he was the fight coordinator and stunt double for Russell Crowe, Noah (2014) where he was the stunt double for Russell Crowe, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) where he was the fight coordinator, Olympus Has Fallen (2013), Jack Reacher (2012), Teen Wolf (2012-) where he works as a fight coordinator, The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) where he did just about everything including fight choreographer, fight coordinator, stunt fight coordinator and stunt performer, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) he was a stunt double, Thor (2011) where he did fight choreography, fight coordination and stunt fight coordinating and was a stunt player, Tekken (2010) where he played Yoshimitsu, The Last Airbender (2010), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and of course, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) where he is one of the stunt doubles for Hugo Weaving’s villain character, Agent Smith. You will remember the fight scene where Neo (Keanue Reeves) does hand to hand combat with hundreds of replicated Agent Smiths, well one of those 12 stunt doubles used to create that scene is Gary Stearns and he and his fellow stunt performers did 20 to 30 takes for every move in that scene so the Directors, Lana and Lilly Wachowski would have plenty of footage to work with in editing the scene.
Very early in his career, Gary had the opportunity to work with a few of his martial arts heroes including with Jackie Chan in The Tuxedo (2002), with Jet Li in Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) and with Woo-Ping Yuen who choreographed stunts for The Matrix sequels.
Gary Stearns has a few tricks up his sleeves that most other stuntman can’t offer. Gary is 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, but he can do all the fancy Hong Kong moves normally done by much smaller performers, including 720 kicks, butterfly twists and Hong Kong style falls. He is also very handy with weapons. Like Gary says, “Anyone can probably swing a sword, but the coordinators want to trust you with it.” You will remember him as the repulsive sword demon in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Gary Stearns has been nominated for three Screen Actors Guild Awards, for Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007).