Spy: Meet Hollywood’s new kick-ass Kiwi stuntwoman

Look out Zoe Bell, there is a new stuntwoman kicking down doors all over Hollywood.

Vanessa Cater has just finished putting her body on the line in Marvel’s new TV show The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Before that, the action woman has worked in The Gray Man; Jumanji: The Next Level; Black Lightning; Doom Patrol; 9-1-1: Lone Star; S.W.A..T; The Do-Over; and Disney and Nickelodeon Productions.

Cater has been in the US for seven years, but says she has only just started making real traction with full-time stunt work in the past two years. She was also doing personal training work to pay her bills.

Cater and Bell met in the Hollywood stunt scene, but have yet to work together.

“It’s definitely on my wish list!” Cater tells Spy.

“You can’t be a Kiwi stunt girl and not be inspired by her. Zoe is a trailblazer, but even better, she has just stayed a true, awesome Kiwi chick in this crazy Hollywood scene.”

Cater has been acting most of her life and TV and film has been her dream since she was a child. Showbiz runs in the family and her dad, Guy Cater, is a celebrated entertainer, hypnotist and comedian, who says he is the only New Zealander to have ever headlined in Vegas.

She started out as an actor on the set of The Chronicles of Narnia, playing one of the main Centaurs, where she ended up befriending and spending most of her time with the stunt performers.

Their war stories scared her slightly, but after three years of not booking another acting job, she was asked to audition along with other stuntwomen for American show, Legend of the Seeker.

A string of American projects filming in New Zealand followed, including The Hobbit films and Spartacus, where Cater made some lifelong friendships, connections and references that allowed her to get her work visa for the US.

Cater isn’t afraid to share her funny star stories. She has given Kevin Hart a shoulder ride on Ride Along 2, and on Jumanji 2, Jack Black kept her in stitches, with silly on-set gags.

She tells Spy she flashed David Spade and Adam Sandler in a hilarious, somewhat improvised scene, in The Do-Over and enjoyed hanging out with Jason Momoa, trading rock-climbing stories for hours while working at a convention in Miami.

Now it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has really captured her heart.

“Most of the people I worked with have been in that universe for many years and many MCU productions. It’s like a family. It certainly was for all of us on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

“I was extremely honoured and grateful to have been brought into work with that group. Every day was like a masterclass. Best experience of my career to date,” she says.

She considers herself very lucky to be able to do both stunts and acting and hopes to pursue more acting roles.

“Next I’d just like to be a character of my own,” she laughs.

Cater’s Instagram is full of injury tales from her stunt work.

“Taking hits and wrecks is the job. Bumps and bruises are not injuries to stunt performers, they are literally part of the job.

“If you can’t handle muscle soreness and bruising, this isn’t the job for you,” she says.

Her work on 9-1-1: Lone Star involved one of her more dangerous stunts.

“I had to run at a car that was driving straight at me and get full-on hit by it. The back of my head shattered the windshield, I got airborne and flew face down on to concrete and still managed to walk away relatively unscathed.”

Cater says there are no fast tips to breaking into Hollywood. Genuine friendships and contacts are key – as well as working hard and training to stay in peak physical shape.

“I work hard and I’m fun to be around and I give good hugs, which I feel is important. I have some phenomenal friends to whom I owe a lot of my work referrals.”

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