“Rescue Me” Stunts and Booty Action

This past Friday I worked on “Rescue Me” in Brooklyn. I was cast as the sexy book dealer, who in the scene is arranging a 911 “Ten Year Anniversary” display in her store window.  I wore a pencil skirt and cute cream-colored top, and my glasses – which reminded multiple crew members of Sarah Palin.

The scene involved both my character and Tommy (Denis Leary’s character), and deals his anger over 911. For those of you who don’t watch “Rescue Me,” Tommy is a NYC Fire Fighter who lost a cousin in the 911 attacks and is constantly plagued by the event.

Seeing the display in the book store window upsets Tommy, and takes him into an enraged fantasy where he drives his truck into the book store, destroying the entire display and wall of glass, steps out of the truck and throws the remaining amount of whisky he had been consuming onto the crash site, sending the building into flames, and walking away. Tommy snaps out of this fantasy with his eyes fixated on the book store lady’s booty, realizing its sexy, and walking away from the store.

In order to capture this entire montage, we filmed the “reality” part of the scenes, both the before and after the crash, first. Upon arriving to set, I was quickly whisked away from the BG actors, given sides, dressed in the wardrobe truck, and was introduced to the director, John Fortenberry and the rest of the production team. I was followed around all day by a member of the wardrobe department and besides the principal contract, was treated as first team.

For the “reality” segment of the day, my job was fairly easy but the details and timing were important. I was simply moving around in the display window and placing 911 related books and posters in their proper places. The camera moved around to capture multiple angles, like usual, and this part was fairly easy. The only thing I had riding on me was the pressure to not mess up my blocking, timing, and moving gracefully in a tight space. Then upon cue, I bent down for the “booty shot” for when Tommy snaps out of the fantasy, to straighten up a pile of books, and continue along my work as Tommy leaves. I am totally unaware of Tommy’s presence during the entire scene.

Once the “before” and “after” of the fantasy was shot, I assumed I was finished for the day. I found myself dead wrong when the 2nd AD called me over to talk to the Stunt Coordinator. Let me just clarify now that whenever anything dangerous or stunt related happens on set (which is all the time for “Rescue Me”) a Stunt Coordinator, Stunt Assistant, active EMT team and ambulance must be present on set. A safety meeting is also required to occur for the entire cast and crew before the stunt occurs.

I was asked how I felt regarding a stunt with the truck crash. The director wanted to capture in one take, with no cuts, the action of me arranging books and the truck crashing into the store, with a very short time between my exit of the display and the crash. The director wanted to capture the illusion that I was still in the store and just barely out of the display area when the crash occurs, implying that my character is killed or injured in the crash.

I said I felt okay with the stunt, and a Stunt Assistant was assigned to watch for my safety. The stunt was a one and done deal, as the display, building and truck would be destroyed after the first take. I was surprising calm about the stunt, even though the pressure was on me to get all of my blocking and my exit from the crash scene perfect on the first take.

The stunt went really well, and I had a blast. I thanked Denis Leary’s Stunt Double for not killing me, and the director was very pleased with the take. It was a great feeling to be given so much responsibility on set and to rise to the challenge and succeed. Though I am far from being an adrenalin junky, I am looking forward to my next stunt!


~ by Elizabeth on March 7, 2010.

4 Responses to ““Rescue Me” Stunts and Booty Action”

  1. Absolutely fascinating. I’ve been to watch Rescue Me shoot numerous times, but have never been able to watch any stunt or fire scenes, which is frustrating. I loved your description. Since they’re supposed to wrap in May (at least that was their original plan), and it centered around the 9/11 10 year anniversary, your episode must be for season 6, not this coming season. Did they tell you? I know they were filming the final 2 seasons before wrapping for good.
    I have a couple technical questions for you. Was the building actually damaged or destroyed, and if so, I’m guessing it was an abandoned building to start with? I know they do a lot of fire scenes in abandoned buildings. Second, is it real fire, or some kind of special effects fire, or something cgi’d in later? As you can tell, I’m a fan of watching filming, especially of my favorite show. And I still keep hoping for fire scenes! I’m just so curious about how much of it is ‘real’ and how much is special effects.

    • Good questions! First off, we were shooting for Episode 613. As for the building, it was actually the side of an active bar/restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The was of glass was rigged with weakened parts, which I assume was put in place for “Rescue Me.” The locations crew handled all of that before I arrived to set, so I have no idea what the bar looks like on most days, but the “display area” where the crash occurred was definitely a set. To answer your question about the fire, yes, it was real. The camera operator had to wear a fireproof suit and there was serious lockdown around the area. Denis Leary’s Stunt Double handled a good portion of the fire scenes, but Denis did handle some of the shots. Most TV shows use very little (if any) CGI, as the budget and turn around time for airing is usually limited. I hope I answered all your questions!

  2. Thanks for answering so quick. So you’ll be towards the end of season 6, probably August or early September. It’s supposed to end on 9/11/11. I’m sure I’ll forget in the meantime, but I know when I see it, I’ll remember your post. lolol
    Oh, I would have been in heaven to have been around for that. Absolute heaven. Though I know they would have kept spectators away more than usual, I’ve become very good at blending with the crew, and have become friendly with a few of them. lol As long as I stay quiet and out of the way, I can usually stay pretty close. And Brooklyn shoots are always easier to get close to than Manhattan ones.
    I’m just mystified by how they can have a fire, albeit controlled, alongside an active business like that. The magic of film making. Thanks for your answers, I really appreciate it.

  3. Which episode is that again that they filmed in Williamsburg?

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