It would be an understatement to say that Amy Johnston is one of the busiest people in Hollywood. In the world of stunts, she’s known for her work in movies such as Deadpool, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Suicide Squad.

She’s also been the lead actress in films such as Bloodfight and Accident Man and the very popular short The Gate, written and directed by Kellie Madison. She’s also worked in the video game genre in games such as Uncharted, Spider-Man, Tomb Raider and Star Wars.

We had the chance to sit down with the busy actress to talk about some of her upcoming work, how having a father who was a WKA professional kickboxing champion influenced her career path and any advice she has for women wanting to get into acting and stuntwork.

Pop Culture Principle – Your father Dave Johnston was a former WKA professional kickboxing champion. Growing up, did he influence your eventual move into martial arts, or did you know it was something that you wanted to do?

Amy Johnston – It was 100 percent my father. He was a very big martial artist and five-time world kickboxing champion. He also ended up owning several martial arts schools at different times and that was really my life. We grew up on martial arts films and we were in the martial arts school every day, even sleeping there sometimes. That was really the upbringing of my life and were I spent most of my time. Apparently, he had me kicking little pads and training me while I was in my crib! 😊

Pop Culture Principle – Speaking of martial arts films, which ones did you enjoy watching growing up?

Amy Johnston – I’ve watched the Shaw Brothers movies as well as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. I am a big fan of Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock who was a huge hero of mine. She is a fantastic martial artist and still doing movies.

Pop Culture Principle – A video you did called Amy vs Many went viral and really put you on the map. Can you talk about shooting that video?

Amy Johnston – Yea, that video really helped boost my career and got me a lot of auditions. One audition that I got because of that video was the film Lady Bloodfight. Actually, what that video was for initially was that we were working with Stan Lee to create a concept about a badass female fighter, and we did a couple of pre-visual ideas as to what we wanted to portray this character as and that video was one of them.

Stan Lee and the team ended up not wanting to do anything with the video and things just dissipated as most things do in Hollywood and we just released it and thankfully it helped my career and several other team members from Thousand Pounds. A bunch of those people are high up in the industry now and we got a lot of our views and eyes on us because of that video and others like it.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us a little bit about Thousand Pounds Action Company?

Amy Johnston – It was good times just filming with people who were passionate and just wanted to have fun. The person who shot and filmed a bunch of the stuff from Thousands Pounds is doing action directing on The Kingsman and things like that now. A bunch of the people on the team are stunt doubles for some of the biggest films. It’s really cool how everyone has dispersed into their own success!

Pop Culture Principle – You’ve done some fantastic stunt work in films like Deadpool 1 & 2, Dragon Ball Z, Spider-Man: Far from Home, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Terminator: Dark Fate. If you had to point to one stunt that you think best represents your work, which one would that be?

Amy Johnston – I would tell you about a recent stunt I did, but I can’t talk about it right now. It really topped some of the things I’ve done, and I’m really excited about that one. It’s kind of an homage to Hong Kong style action stunts with it being pretty big and aggressive. I would say the highway slide in Captain America was pretty cool. For me, I really like fight scenes the most and creating the fighting scenes. It’s fun to get together with a team, create these fight scenes, and bring those characters to life with the action. Also, I recently ran on the rooftops in Hawaii for Magnum P.I. which was a very cool stunt I forgot to talk about. I’ve been doubling Higgins on that show for a while now. You can watch a clip of the stunt here.

Pop Culture Principle – On the flipside, has there ever been a stunt that you did were you were really scared or had second thoughts about doing the stunt?

Amy Johnston – I mean, the goal is to never be terrified. You try and put as much practice and rehearsal into a stunt and the entire team is around you. I have never really felt terrified. If I ever felt terrified, I would stop and say let’s figure this out because I shouldn’t feel like this, but there are always a few butterflies and feelings of excitement! But then after the stunt is done, it’s an incredible feeling!

Pop Culture Principle – You were the lead in an amazing film called Lady Bloodfight. You work two hats on that film with the acting and the fighting as well. Can you talk about preparing for that film and what it was like working on that project?

Amy Johnston – That was my very first lead role in a feature film, so there was a lot of pressure on that one. Nothing is ever perfect and there are some things I would have liked to fix, but honestly, I am really happy and proud to have been a part of it.

I obviously train martial arts all the time, but the difference in training for me this time was that I went there and trained with the stunt team there who were incredible. One of the guys was named Guo Yun Diang, who was the stunt double for Jet Li, he was training me in different Shaolin styles, and it was as a dream come true for me. I learned from him and met a lot of great people there. They definitely train harder there, and it was training all day every day, eight hours non-stop. Also working with the director Chris Nahon was great and getting to work out the scenes with him was a lot of fun.

The biggest thing that I had to take care of before that film was my knee. I tore my ACL doing some silly little flip thing at a rehearsal for a different job. I had to get surgery, but thankfully they waited for me to shoot the film. So, really the preparation for that film was mentally and physically getting my body ready and praying that they would still allow me to be a part of the film and luckily, it all worked out. Lady Bloodfight was a very important film for me.

Pop Culture Principle – One of your most famous roles was in the short The Gate which was written and directed by Kellie Madison. Can you talk a little bit about that project and working with Kellie Madison and martial artist Cecep Arif Rahman?

Amy Johnston – Cecep Arif Rahman was incredible. The movie The Raid definitely changed the game. He was an incredible person, not just an incredible martial artist. He was the humblest killer you will ever meet. He just wanted to share his knowledge and his spirit and his energy. Honestly, he’s one of my favorite people that I’ve ever worked with. We put choreography together and it was just like butter.

Kellie Madison was really great, and I was really impressed with how she put that project together and how she got it done. Kellie is definitely a hustler, and she was great to work with. She really got into the martial arts aspect of the film. It’s probably one of my favorite projects that I’ve done and I’m really happy with how that turned out.

Pop Culture Principle – When you are playing a stunt double for a famous actor, do you get a lot of chances to talk about the character and the stunt work with the actor?

Amy Johnston – It depends. If you are working with an actress and you are on the job for three days, you are obviously training them and getting them ready for the fight scenes. You are there with them on set and giving them tips and always ready to jump in, so you really don’t gain too much of a relationship with them.

But, if you are on show after show with them or a six-month movie with them, you are going to definitely become good friends hopefully and gain a relationship. A lot of times what will happen is that actors will request that stunt double again so that they are continued in their contract. I would say there are actors and doubles that have good relationships and I have a good relationship with a few actors. It’s helpful because you are creating the same character, so you want to understand each other as much as possible and work as a team.

Pop Culture Principle – In 2019, Brie Larson one an award for Captain Marvel and brought up her trainers and stunt doubles Ranae Moneymaker and Joanna Bennett to accept the award with her. How important was the moment for recognizing the work all of you do?

Amy Johnston – Honestly, we’ve been working towards being part of the Oscars. It’s beyond me because if you look at these action films, they are sold off the trailer and not usually sold off the dialogue. Just from my experience working on action films, the stunt teams creates the action, we’ll shoot it how we think it looks good, we’ll put all the elements and story beats in there and we break down the script and we give that to the producers and the director.

A lot of times they will shoot it shot for shot. Sometimes, they will make different creative choices, but a lot of times it’s just directly put onto the screen. Also, the stunt coordinator and the second unit action director are probably taking care of all the action and such a big part of action films are the action team and it’s just beyond me.
I think where this comes from is that the old school stuntman never wanted to be credited and kind of wanted to stay behind the scenes. But as it evolved and action films get bigger and bigger, I think more credit is due 100 percent.

Pop Culture Principle – What would you say to anyone, especially young girls, who are thinking about getting into stunt work as a career and seeing someone like themselves on screen doing these fight scenes and stunt work?

Amy Johnston – I think for everyone it’s important to see yourself in these characters and find something relatable. For me, that’s a big part of why I do what I do. When I was growing up, I saw myself in Michelle Yeoh because she was the first person that made me realize kind of like who I am and what I could do. I always had this idea that martial arts was this strong and manly thing, but I saw her, and she had a sense of grace and poise and also femininity and that made me realize that we can be all of these things and that we can play off of our strengths and be strong as well.

It’s important for women and people in general to understand self-defense because it’s good to know, but more so for your self-confidence and the understanding of your body and awareness. Everybody should know a little bit about how to defend themselves and martial arts as a practice is incredible. Finding something where you can express yourself and learn and continually stimulate your mind is very important.

Pop Culture Principle – Are there any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Amy Johnston – A lot of the projects I am working on now are kind of hush hush. 😊
I’m acting in a few new action films that I can’t talk about yet but here are some more projects to look out for in the meantime. Be on the lookout for Paloma’s Flight television series, Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart, The Girl in The Woods. Beyond The Veil and The Mother. I did a film called Day Labor that should be coming out sometime in 2022. I also did some work on Westworld that should be coming out in 2022 as well. I also work a lot in video games, so I worked on the new God of War and Horizon Forbidden West. I’m also busy on YouTube with fun martial arts-based series and videos!


As you can see, Amy Johnston is an extremely busy person these days! We would like to thank Amy for taking the time from her busy schedule to talk with us!

If you would like to keep up with all her latest news and projects, you can follow her Twitter, her Instagram and her YouTube channel.

**All photos courtesy of Amy Johnston**

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