Heath Ledger once held a knife to her throat. Tom Cruise used her as a human weapon. It’s just another day at the office for stunt-woman Jessie Graff who came to Tiger Muay Thai for a short visit this week.
“I’m in-love with the business,” explains Graff, who’s worked as a stunt double for Maggie Gyllenhaal and Elizabeth Hurley. “I just want to work out all day. One minute it’s boxing, the next it’s Kung Fu. From there it’s trampoline and then sword work. After that it’s gymnastics and motorcycle training. It never ends.”
Graff has worked in a litany of movies including X-Men: First Class, Transformers 2 and 3, Live Free or Die Hard, Ironman 2 and Bridesmaids. Although the former competitive gymnast professes that she does have the “best job in the world,” she admits it isn’t all about glamor and celebrities.
“The worst is when you have one of those days where all you have to do is trip once, but you have to wait twelve hours to do it. You’re also probably in an uncomfortable wardrobe, whether it be a full burn victim mask or four-inch stilettos and leather. It’s an attitude of, ‘Be ready at all times…but don’t do anything!’”
Thailand is a far cry from her Santa Monica, California roots where she grew up parachuting from roofs with a sheet, but Graff says it’s time to spread her wings. Her true passion lies in the martial arts.
“I get a lot of work in the US,” says the adrenaline junkie, who is also undertaking a jungle survival course while in Thailand for an upcoming audition with the television show, Survivor. “Most of the time you get hit by something and fall down or you’re asked to trip. There aren’t very many fight scenes. My dream is to be a martial arts action hero with flips and all kinds of craziness.”
Although TMT was only supposed to be a short stop on her itinerary, Graff is already planning a trip back to pursue more Muay Thai instruction.
“I’ve never been in a place so focused on fighting. It you want hardcore training, it’s perfect. You can do classes all day long and I can’t wait to get back here.”
Graff is confident that Tiger’s Muay Thai training will be what sets her apart from the competition, so that she can further explore her life’s calling.
“I have a job that justifies and facilitates my passion on a bigger level than I have the ability to create on my own. Imagine if someone came up to you and said they’d pay you to do what you love most. They’ll set it all up and make it look even cooler than it actually is. Then they’ll record it so that you can watch it for the rest of your life. It doesn’t get much better than that!”