You've probably seen stuntwoman star Tara Macken more times than you can count—but you wouldn't recognize her. She doubles as some of your favorite stars to pull off stunts in shows like HBO's Westworld and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.and movies like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Suicide Squad.
As if jumping off stuff, flipping, and kicking ass wasn't impressive enough, this girl can also sword fight. Yep, you read that right; she flings around a long metal knife like it ain't no thang.
It all started when she moved to LA to pursue a career in dance and acting and realized that the blend of athleticism and performance needed to be a stuntwoman was exactly what she was looking for. She soon learned martial arts and parkour and has been killing it ever since. (You should consider adding martial arts to your workout routine too—even if you aren't dreaming of being a behind-the-scenes stunt star.)
Check out her moves in the video above and read below for a peek into what it's like to be the fearless female acrobat in Hollywood's hottest TVs and movies. (Want more badass fighting inspo? Check out these fight sequences by Shadowhunters' Katherine Mcnamara.)
Why sword fighting is extra badass
"When dealing with weapons, there's an element of respect that goes with the tool you're using," says Macken. "Even though the weapons you use on set are all safe, you want to treat each weapon as a real combat weapon that has repercussions. You need to learn the angles of attack, the right blocks, and choreography is of utmost importance since you are handling a weapon. You can still hurt your fight partner with a blunt weapon, so having the strength and control of the sword is extremely important."
How to work out like a stuntwoman
"I train judo and jujitsu 5 times a week for 3 hours a day and I ride horses twice a week, one hour each session," she says. "As for cardio, I live right at the beach, so I enjoy surfing, swimming, running on the sand and rollerskating. For me, it's just playing, so I don't see cardio as a training component, more just a way of life! And I really enjoy martial arts; it's a great combination of physical and mental training." (Just ask supermodel Gisele Bündchen who swears by MMA for stress relief and a workout.)
The stunt partner of her dreams
"I've been very fortunate to have doubled for all my idols and a slew of amazing actresses over the years," says Macken. "But, I would love the opportunity to work with Jackie Chan, so I'm putting that out there in the universe!"
And if you thought the sword fighting was cool enough? Just wait to see her practice some new skills—gun handling, horse work, and wire work—in upcoming projects.