By the time you read this, it’s not unlikely that local stunt man Gregg Brazzel will have left Dallas for Hollywood. The lure of potential stardom is just too strong to resist.
Brazzel is a tall, muscular, good-looking, single 25-year-old who has modeled, fought off German attack dogs, caught on fire, fallen from high buildings and performed death-defying car jumps-all for the sake of pursuing an acting career. Amazingly, he’s never been injured.
Despite the fact that the TV series Dallas is filmed here, and despite the fact that he played a member of the Ku Klux Klan in Places in the Heart (filmed in nearby Waxa-hachie), Brazzel says there’s just not enough work in the Dallas film business to keep him employed.
Although Brazzel has more experience than some stunt men and young actors, he says that having blond “all-American” looks can be a detriment when a director is looking for someone to play a mean character. And if he does get a menacing part, he’s often required to dye his hair.
Brazzel credits a big part of his determination to his idol, John Wayne. When Brazzel was 13, he met Wayne at the Fairmont Hotel. “I wanted to get his picture, so I found out where his room was. When I got there, the door was open, and he was talking on the phone. He waved for me to come in and sit down. I found out then that he didn’t do a lot of his own stunts.” Before Braz-zel left, Wayne gave him a copper bracelet that he was wearing, and Brazzel still has it.
Brazzel, a native of Louisiana, has doubled for actor Ben Johnson, who has played alongside Wayne in several Westerns. In the 1979 film Soggy Bottom U.S.A., Brazzel doubled for Johnson in a stunt that involved a boat crash. He did another boat stunt for actor Jack Elam, but this time he jumped the boat over a railroad trestle. Even though he’s familiar with boat stunts, Brazzel’s favorite stunts are with cars.
This stunt man has turned actor in such movies as Waltz Across Texas and Time Bomb. He co-stars in the soon-to-be-released Mountaintop Motel, a movie that’s styled after Friday the 13th.
His advice to aspiring stunt men/actors? Be persistent when pursuing jobs, and be confident of your own talents.
Brazzel’s own persistence and confidence could pay off soon. He recently tested for the part of a new character on the TV daytime drama The Young and the Restless. If he gets the part, it will mean that he’ll be leaving Dallas even sooner than expected.