Damian Mavis chats working on ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Arrow’

Actor/Stuntman Damian Mavis

Damian Mavis is a fan first and foremost. Acting is his passion with stunts being his most fun job on the planet. Fantasy and sci-fi are right up at the top, with martial arts coming in at a close second. This talented guy has worked on over 150 films, TV shows, commercials, and more. He had a guest role on this week’s big “Supernatural” episode, and has been in “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” and recently can be seen opposite Jackie Chan in the Chinese film “Gong fu yu jia.”

Colleen Bement: What can you share about being on the sets of “Supernatural” and “Arrow?”

Damian Mavis: I think for CW shows I’ve worked on “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Supergirl,” “Supernatural,” and “Arrow.” I do stunts and acting depending on the show. “Supernatural” was very cool. When I walked into the audition and the director Amanda Tapping was introduced to me, I was thinking “oh wow, the director is Colonel Samantha Carter!” I’m a big fan of sci-fi and “Stargate” so it was an odd feeling having to audition in front of someone that I’d watched so many times. I was completely star struck and I forgot my lines halfway through, but it just turned into this long meaningful pause, LOL, and then I continued when I remembered. I guess it worked because she exclaimed “perfect!” I totally thought she was trolling me, hehe, but a couple of days later I was booked. She’s so awesome, very friendly and cool. I’ve worked with all kinds of directors, but never one as nice as she was.

On set, I got to meet Misha Collins. That dude is so funny and is a very cool guy. Total opposite of his on-screen character Castiel who is so stiff and serious. He jokes with everyone and is just fun to be around. We were sorting out the timing of my entrance to the scene which requires me walking up to Misha from down the street, and on the very first take he looks at me sideways, talks out of the side of his mouth as if the camera won’t hear him, “your early…like really really early!” I just laughed. It made things a lot easier from then on. I was pretty nervous to be acting in a show I’ve been a fan of for 12 seasons, and with an actor whose character I love, but after that, I just relaxed.
“Arrow” has a special place in my heart because it was the first North American action show I started watching while I was based in Thailand doing all kinds of martial arts movies/shows. Asia makes lots of martial arts action films and shows. I thinking back then, wouldn’t it be fantastic to work on that show one day? I never really thought it possible. A few years later I relocated to Vancouver and suddenly it became a reality. Working on all these shows has been a dream come true. 

“Supernatural” because I’ve been such a long time fan, and “Arrow” because I really respected the action work they were doing. In “Arrow” I’m doing stunt fight action in a couple of episodes and it’s so surreal and exciting to be doing what I thought was impossible just a few years ago. The entire action team for Arrow is made up of really great people, so professional and so easy to work with. Loved every minute; plus I get shot with an arrow by The Green Hood! What’s better than that?

CB: What projects do you have in the works?

DM: Unfortunately I’ve got something coming up that is absolutely amazing to me but I’m not allowed to talk about it yet. It’s kind of a dream come true for me but really all these jobs I do here are dreams come true. As a fan of so many of these shows, it’s hard not to be freaking out about every role I get! I can talk about my own plans, from the beginning I’ve been writing my own scripts and have been trying to find a way to start creating my own films. Since things have been changing for me so much since relocating to Vancouver I see now it’s becoming a real possibility. Hopefully, in the next year to two years, I’ll start filming my first indie feature in Asia. The reason for Asia is because having lived and worked there in the film industry for over a decade, I know what I can do with a low budget and what’s possible. Exciting times ahead.

CB: I read that you used to be based in Thailand, and now you’re working in Vancouver. What do you miss about Thailand?

DM: I first went to Thailand I guess 14 years ago. I went there with a Muay Thai academy from Ottawa, Canada and was there to train professionally and to fight in the ring. I did all that (I won!) but while there I saw a new Thai film in theaters called Ong-Bak starring Tony Jaa. It was the best action movie I’d ever seen (in my opinion at the time). In this movie were three white dudes (as bad guys) that I had just met hanging out in Bangkok. I was always a big fan of film and TV, I was a martial arts expert and suddenly I saw a real opportunity to fulfill a secret dream of actually working in the stuff I loved so much. There is a very big film and a TV commercial industry in Bangkok and not a lot of competition. So when I got back to Canada I made plans, and within nine months I moved to Thailand. After six months I was fighting Tony Jaa in his second movie; a very short scene but I couldn’t have been happier. That was the start. after that, over the years I worked on over 150 productions and what started as just action turned into about 50% of my work being acting. Really I owe all my acting roles to Muay Thai. If I’d never joined that academy and taken the academy trip to train in Thailand, I would never have discovered my love of acting.
Vancouver is my home now. It’s a great place, and I had forgotten all the things I love about Canada and being Canadian. Being away so long pursuing my dreams and “sacrificing” to continue following them was hard, but finally, a good friend convinced me to relocate to Vancouver to continue doing what I love there. It was the best decision of my life. I miss the weather the most and the food second. Thailand is a pretty easy place to live if you like hot climates, and Bangkok has some of the best food in the world.
I value and I am grateful for all the opportunities in my acting and stunt career in Asia that I had and the resume and experience and reel footage it gave me, but doing the same thing in Vancouver is so, so much better. There are no unions or fair pay or treatment in Asia. Things are dangerous and everything is just harder. Without all my experience in Asia I wouldn’t have broken into the industry here so quickly, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

CB: How many bones have you broken in your career?
DM: I’ve been incredibly lucky in all my time working stunts and have never been seriously hurt. I’m a tough guy in general so the normal damage to my body is pretty much the same kind of damage I did for free just training in martial arts all my life. Getting paid to do it was a great job to me. But I value every straight acting role I get. It means a pain-free shoot and one less thing to worry about. I’ve broken my arm and done other stupid things just driving motorcycles in Bangkok. I’ve been super lucky with just bruises, slight tears, sprains, and pulls. There have been some close calls though. For my roles in a Thai action movie “Hanuman,” I was on a wire to do a big scene jumping from truck to truck all down the highway, and somehow one of the support lines snapped. I flew up in the air to a height that would kill me if I fell. I just stayed there for 20 minutes while they figured out how to get me down without killing me. I remember thinking I might die any second.
CB: If you were a baseball player, what would your walk-up song be?
DM: Kenny Loggins The Danger Zone, although I’m more partial to the dubstep remix by KDrew Ft. Mr. Nickelz.

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