Interview with SNW Stuntman Jack Sansone
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing stuntman Jack Sansone. He performed a brief stunt in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”.
Many of the other interviews with behind-the-scenes personnel from Strange New Worlds focus on the big-name players such as main cast members and executive producers. And while these perspectives are of course great, I’ve wanted to present a more personal, fly-on-the-wall type of document into the making of Strange New Worlds. This way, fans can get a true taste of what it’s like to be involved in such a massive show, yet from the perspective of a (nonetheless important) cog in the wheel. These roles are so important; without them, the machine might even break down! Absent stunt performers, actors would be called upon to do all the dangerous work that TV and film productions require.
What’s it like to be involved in a brand-new hit Star Trek show where your part is only a single scene, in which your involvement is so blink-and-you’ll-miss-it that your face is not supposed to appear recognizably onscreen? This is the kind of question I wanted to pose Jack Sansone. From over thirty production credits on IMDb, he has worked on one Star Trek episode so far.
If you’ve been watching Strange New Worlds, you’ll probably know the scene Jack worked on. He played the guard Keir, stunt-doubling actor Adam Maros, and described the scene by saying, “I get tackled by Captain Pike. He tackles me then pulls a gun on me. Then I get in another little scuffle with a woman.” The scene is so brief that, prior to our interview, Jack humbly admitted to me, “I’m not sure how interesting I’d be. I only did the one scene. I had one rehearsal and only worked two days on it.” Unphased, I asked him to cast his memories back to when he first began working on the project.
WarpFactorTrek: How did you get hired for Strange New Worlds, and in general, how was the experience of working on the show?
Jack Sansone: The stunt coordinator called me directly. I’ve worked with him a couple times before, so he thought I was a good match for Adam Maros. I was, however, much lighter, so he told me to put on as much weight as possible quickly, which I did.
All the crane shots [in the scene] were with me, as well as the tackle, and the little fight where I get stabbed. It was a lot of running. The tackle we did many, many times, with me landing straight on the ground, which was concrete and had a lot of rocks. Sometimes, stunt work doesn’t look like much, but it can be pretty tough.
Did you meet Adam Maros? What was it like working with the likes of him, Anson Mount, and Lindy Booth?
Yes, I worked with Adam in rehearsals as well as hung out with him quite a bit on the shoot days. Great guy!
Anson is extremely focused on work. In between takes, he would also be very focused or reading something. So, I left him alone, other than when we interacted in the scene.
Same with Lindy. She was very funny, a pleasure to work with. Again, there wasn’t too much interaction, other than rehearsals, but she was very nice.
In the episode, the roles of Captain Pike and Alora were stunt-doubled by Geoff Meech and Jennifer Vey respectively. Did you work with them?
Oh yeah; I’ve worked with Geoff Meech a lot. I worked with him on his first movie ever (The Mortal Instruments).
He absolutely loved the fact that he got to hit me full speed, as hard as he could. It was extra special for him, as it was my birthday! He loved it. He’s a great guy.
It was my first time working with Jen Vey. She’s been around a long time, so I did know of her. Very nice person too.
How was working with director Andi Armaganian?
I really didn’t meet her. She would relay the notes to the stunt coordinator, who relayed them to me. Normally, I do meet the directors and get notes, but in this they used a lot of crane shots, so she was pretty far away at a monitor. So, I never saw her.
Your character, Keir, uses a dagger and a much larger pike weapon, so did you have to receive training on how to use those props?
I’ve done plenty of training with weapons in personal life as well as work on other shows. Either way, Adam actually did [all the weapon-carrying shots in] that sequence himself. I thought he did it great.
Did you have to shave your head for the role, and can you tell us a bit about the costuming?
I normally have my head shaved, which again made me a better match for Adam. The costume was very intricate. I’ve never had that many measurements for costuming before. They are very specific about going for a particular look. First off, they measured everything on me. Not just basic measurements – for example, not just waist size but also hip size and quads size. Costumes for TV are normally not that intricate. I went three or four times for the same costume. Tweaking the look; trying to be true to the original show, I think. It’s more detail-oriented than most shows.
Your short scene was filmed on location, so what was it like there?
It was a beautiful day and a beautiful set. The Adam Sandler movie Billy Madison was filmed in the same location.
What are your thoughts about how the scene was edited?
Although Geoff hit me extremely hard in the scene, I’m not sure it looks that way in the edit. It is shot beautifully, though.
What’s the most dangerous stunt you’ve ever been involved in?
That’s kind of a tough question. I’ve done thirty-foot-high falls, which can be risky if you do it wrong. But sometimes it’s things you don’t think are too risky that can get a little sketchy.
I’ve also ridden on the hood of a car. When the car braked hard, I flew off.
What are your earliest memories of Star Trek?
I was never a huge fan of Star Trek. Having said that – having now worked on it and being part of the universe, even though it was in such a small way – I will check it out. I watched an episode of the original Star Trek with William Shatner. It was so bad that it was good! So, I think I’ll check out some more.
If they asked you back to perform more stunts on Strange New Worlds, would you be happy to return?
Yes. It was a great set. Cast and crew were very nice. I’d love to return.
Webmaster of WarpFactorTrek, Dan is an avid Star Trek fan who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. Also known as “The Scotch Trekker”, Dan has loved Star Trek ever since discovering it in his childhood. He worked as an administrator, for six years, on the encyclopedic Star Trek website Memory Alpha, which involved studying the making of the various series and films. He has been mentioned in the official Star Trek Magazine, has qualified from a Star Trek course run at Glasgow Clyde College, and ran The Scotch Trekker YouTube channel, which regularly featured live interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek.