Philip J. Silvera is one of Hollywood’s premiere stunt choreographers, having worked on major projects for film (Iron Man 3), television (Daredevil) and video games (Star Wars: The Old Republic). But his latest gig, coordinating the elaborate fight sequences in Marvel box-office smash Deadpool, turned out to be one of his most rewarding. In an exclusive Rolling Stone video interview, Silvera details the creative and narrative challenges of his work.
“In stunts and designing the action overall, it has to tell the story,” he says. “You don’t ever want to get to the point where you’re just doing punches and kicks or car hits for no reason, or wire gags just because they’re cool. It should tell a story.”
He says that working on Deadpool was “a long time coming,” having collaborated with director Tim Miller frequently over the past eight years. Giving fans an intimate look at his process, he explains that any fight – including those with Ryan Reynolds as the film’s titular, wisecracking superhero – originate from the same mindset: “A lot of it starts with, ‘If there’s a guy coming at me, how am I going to treat this?” he says. “That’s it. It’s my years of training in different scenarios and situations.”
Silvera explains that watching his father, a boxer, inspired him to pursue multiple disciples – including karate and Chinese martial arts – that led to his unusual career. “This was something I always wanted to do, but didn’t know how to go about it,” he says. “My biggest three things in life were: I read comics, I watched martial arts films … and I love film. Period. I love storytelling. So for me, this is my natural evolution of where I wanted to go. I just didn’t know how to get there right away.”