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How ‘The Fall Guy’ became a live show at Universal Studios Hollywood, complete with Ryan Gosling cameo

Ryan Gosling surprises guests at "The Fall Guy Stuntacular Pre-Show" at Universal Studios Hollywood in late April.
Ryan Gosling surprises guests at “The Fall Guy Stuntacular Pre-Show” at Universal Studios Hollywood in late April.
(Universal Studios)
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When “The Fall Guy” star Ryan Gosling and director David Leitch recently made a surprise guest appearance at a new “Fall Guy”-themed live show at Universal Studios Hollywood, they riled up the audience as a funny story line unfolded about a director who pushes his team to do increasingly complicated stunts.

Jet-Ski-type crafts flip, explosions send actors hurtling, and if you’re sitting near the front row, you might have a hot piece of flying rubber shrapnel fall by your knee. It’s all in good fun. “This is a live show based on a movie, based on a TV show, based on a stunt man,” is one of the show’s punchlines.

“The Fall Guy Stuntacular Pre-Show,” which can be seen before the park’s popular “WaterWorld” show through May 19, was produced in partnership with 87North Productions, which was co-founded by Leitch, a former stuntman himself, and producer Kelly McCormick. The idea came to Leitch and his team during a tour of the theme park last year.

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A stunt performer flips during "The Fall Guy Stuntacular Pre-Show" at Universal Studios Hollywood.
(Universal Studios)

“We reached out to David O’Connor at Universal with an image of various iconic action from our movie composited within the ‘WaterWorld’ space and he called back and said, ‘We are pitching this to parks. It’s so cool!’ And then we just started developing it together,” Leitch said.

Gosling wanted to be a part of the pre-show from the moment he heard about it, Leitch said, and a special script was worked up in advance of the duo’s live appearance at the park.

Gosling told Leitch that he stole the show, “but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case,” the director joked.

Stunt performers have been moving more into the spotlight with the release of “The Fall Guy,” which co-stars Emily Blunt in the tale of a low-profile stuntman suddenly called upon to find the missing star he regularly doubles for.

The film didn’t have the hottest opening at the box office, but those results (which may improve over time, as rom-coms sometimes do) have done little to dim renewed public interest in the wild, taxing, unsung world of stunt performers, prompting some within the industry to say the movie is the best argument for creating an Oscar category for stunts.

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