If you thought Uma Thurman killed it as The Bride in "Kill Bill," just wait till you get a load of MMA superstar Gina Carano in "Haywire" (out this Friday).
In the Steven Soderbergh ("Contagion")-directed spy thriller, Carano plays Mallory Kane, a freelance covert operative, who gets double-crossed by her employer and sets out to clear her name.
As a first-timer, Carano turns in a surprisingly stellar performance. What she hits out of the ballpark, though, are the film's many action sequences, where Carano -- who did all her own stunts -- gets to let loose and do what does best: fight.
In honor of Carano's ass-kicking in "Haywire," we've rounded up the top nine actors who perform their own stunts. Some might surprise you.
Also Check Out: "Haywire" Star Gina Carano on Beating Up Famous Actors
Is there anything Tom Cruise won't do? If his latest hit "Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is anything to go by, that'd be a no. Cruise, who single-handedly made the "Mission Impossible" movies must-sees because of his insane stunt work, took his risk-taking to new heights when he scaled the tallest building in the world -- the Burj Khalifa in Dubai -- for his latest mission. The scene is among the most nerve-racking action set pieces committed to celluloid. How Cruise got Katie Holmes to be okay with the whole idea, we'll never know.
If you think that Uma Thurman did her own stonework as The Bride in the "Kill Bill" films, think again. Thurman has New Zealand stuntwoman Zoe Bell to thank for the craziest feats her character accomplishes in the Quentin Tarantino action flicks. Tarantino wasn't intent on messing around with his grindhouse homage "Death Proof," so he cast Bell in a speaking part and let her perform her own stunts. The payoff is extraordinary. Watching Bell cling for dear life to the hood of a speeding Dodge Charger during the film's climax is enough to make you give up driving altogether.
Jackie Chan, our generation's answer to Buster Keaton, has long been regarded as one of the world's most talented stuntmen, and for good reason -- he holds the Guiness World Record for most stunts performed by a living actor. Lucky for us, he's also a talented comic actor who can out-funny his "Rush Hour" costar Chris Tucker. Now that's what we call talent.
There's a reason Angelina Jolie has emerged as our generation's most sought-after action heroine. The girl can kick some ass, for real: Jolie has been known to do the majority of her own stunt work in her action fare. Whether walking on a narrow ledge atop a 12-story building in "Salt" or leaning precariously out of a car window while shooting a rifle in "Wanted," Jolie is the real deal. Don't let her looks fool you.
Stunts don't only involve guns, leaps and fists -- especially if your name is Christian Bale. The "Dark Knight" star put his life in danger when he reduced himself to 121 pounds for his role in "The Machinist." He then bulked up to play Bruce Wayne in his first stab at the Batman franchise, but dwindled himself down again to appear convincingly starved in "Rescue Dawn." Yo-yo-ing like that is a death-defying stunt, even if you're Batman.
Viggo Mortensen looks rugged in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but it turns out he actually is in real life. As Aragorn, the most physical of the Tolkein crew, Mortensen performed all of his own stunts. It's even rumored that the actor carried a real steel sword instead of a fake one to lend more realism to his acting during the fight sequences. We're not sure how the actors facing off against him in the fight scenes felt about that, but no matter. Whatever he did worked.
Not everyone knows it, but before taking up acting, Jason Statham was an Olympic diver for the British National Diving Team. Maybe that accounts for his killer physique, and for the fact that he insists on doing the majority of his own stunts in his films. That not only involves combat, but driving. If the "Transporter" series is anything to go by, the man's a maniac behind the wheel. And that's just the way we love him.
It's fair to say a lot of people were surprised when Matt Damon showed off some real fighting chops in the first "Bourne Identity" movie. Who knew the clean-cut, Oscar-winning boy from "Good Will Hunting" could so effectively cut it as an action hero? For the initial trilogy, Damon did tons of near-death defying work, including shooting multiple scenes in water and driving really fast.
We have a feeling that if Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig were to square off against each other, Craig would come out on top. Brosnan was suave as Bond, but Craig is the better fighter, if the last two Bond movies are anything to go by. He's been known to enjoy getting dirty, and it shows. Whether fending off foes on a roof or barreling along at top speeds in a sports car, Craig is one to put his life at risk for the money shot.