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ANDREAS PETRIDES Η εμπειρία είναι πάντα

From a very early age Andreas wanted to be a stuntman, having been influenced by all the old classic movies. When he was at school he sought to find out how his dream can be a reality, however, his ambition was quickly suppressed when he was advised by his school careers teacher, that to become a stuntman he needed degrees in both physics and mathematics! Andreas was mortified as he couldn’t see himself being able to get these degrees as he was always far more physical than academic. So his plan of becoming a Stuntman now seemed an impossible goal. His father Thalis was a great athlete, having played football for his native country Cyprus, trained with the British team in Gymnastics and was a Karate instructor, so from a very young age he was taught these skills by his father and throughout his young life, Andreas found he had an innate talent for any sport he put his mind too. As an early teenager he went for an audition as an Acrobat in Gerry Cottles Circus, he was offered the job and went on to tour the UK. He learned many new skills including Tightrope Walking,, Russian Swings, and Acrobatic Costume Work. Throughout his teenage years Andreas developed his talent in sports by becoming a Martial Arts Black Belt Instructor a Gymnastics and Trampoline Coach, County Footballer, Achieved Gold Standard in both Swimming and High Diving, Competed in Motocross races and became a County Fencer and Club Coach. In the early 80’s a friend of Andreas’ returned from a holiday in the USA with a Betamax video tape showing some boys performing a brand new acrobatic dance form called ‘Break Dancing’, now called Street Dancing. Andreas soon became hooked, training night and day often turning down dates to stay at home and perfect his new moves, on the dance floor that is! Andreas along with his brother Alex and their friend Troy, formed a street dance team called ‘The UK Warriors’ not long after getting together, the team became professional. They toured most of Europe performing at nightclubs, cabaret shows, open air stadiums and performing on UK National TV. His countless hours of training paid off when Andreas became the UK Break Dance Champion of 1983/84 elevating him to perform on many TV shows, pop videos and commercials, his best known commercial was his performance as The Break Dancing Pensioner on the humorous Carling Black Label ad. Andreas decided to branch away from Break Dancing and went on to perform on various productions as an Acrobat and Martial Artist. During this time he learned many more styles of Martial Arts and Period Weaponry, advanced his car driving skills and learnt to horse ride. It was whilst performing as a Martial Artist on a movie that Andreas learned what was really required to become a member of ‘The British Stunt Register’ and it certainly did not include any degrees in Physics and Mathematics!

To join the Register he required a full Equity (Actors Union) Card and to be County Competitive Standard in 6 disciplines/sports. Andreas had already gained 6 skills and his previous Circus tours had acquired him a provisional Equity card, but to join the Stunt Register he required a full Equity card, this being a further 30 weeks of professional work. Gathering all his Break Dancing, film and T.V contracts, together with the work he was currently doing, he counted up the weeks and found he just made the required amount of work to qualify him for the full Equity card. He sent all his documentation to be approved by Equity and waited for the verdict. It seemed Andreas was on his way to achieving his ultimate goal. Unfortunately the news wasn’t good, it seemed some of his Break Dance work was below the Equity required weekly minimum wage and so he had been turned down. Andreas was devastated. Out of despair and a passion for new challenges, Andreas decided to join the Army. Due to his fascination of the Military and his natural talent for physical sports he joined The Elite Parachute Regiment where he collected many new skills including passing the arduous Royal Marines All Arms Commando Course. Andreas was still set on getting onto the Stunt Register so whilst in the army, he got in contact with his old Circus troop, toured once again and finally gained the amount of work needed to acquire the full Equity card. Finally Andreas became a Professional Stuntman and joined the British Equity Stunt Register. The Army had added another 6 disciplines to the 8 he already had. These included: Parachuting (Cat 10, C Licence), Top Rope & Abseiling Instructor, Sub Aqua (Dive Master), Unit Physical Training Instructor, Armed and Unarmed Combat Instructor, and Hang Gliding (Club Pilot), bringing his total list of skills to an impressive 13. Along with his new Full Equity Card he had no trouble being excepted onto the register. To date, Andreas has worked professionally on over 500 productions worldwide, in every area of the stunt industry as a Stunt Performer, Stunt Co-ordinator, Sword Master, Fight Arranger and Action Director.

He has worked on over 90 features, some of the biggest movie productions to date, including: four James Bond movies, Star Wars (The Phantom Menace), where he created all the Lightsabre fights, was the 2nd Unit Stunt Co-ordinator and Stunt Doubled Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi. Together with a colleague, he designed and choreographed all the fights and battle sequences in Ridley Scott’s Oscar winning Gladiator, trained Russell Crowe and Stunt Doubled Joaquin Phoenix as ‘Emperor Commodus’. Andreas was recently inducted into the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame recognising him for his outstanding achievements in the world of motion pictures and television. He was also nominated at the Taurus World Stunt Awards for Best Fire Work on the movie 28 Days Later. Andreas’s natural progression is to now educate, motivate and inspire children and adults from all walks of life about the fantastic and fulfilling world of movies and television.

ANDREAS PETRIDES Equity Stunt Professional  

A look at the life of one of the finest British stunt performers on the Equity Registar.