Someone overhearing stuntwoman Julie Michaels’ morning send-off of
her husband, stuntman Peewee Piemonte, might be thrown for a loop --
or a triple flip in a speeding car.
“Honey, what are you doing today?,” Michaels asks.
“Oh, I’m doing a full [body] burn and I’m getting hit by a car,”
The Burbank couple met in 1991 when Piemonte was the stunt
coordinator for the film “Dr. Mordrid.”
Michaels was an actress in the film, and having appeared in more
high-profile films like “Point Break,” became the victim of a
stalker. Piemonte suggested a less visible career and said her
athletic ability would lend itself well to becoming a stuntwoman.
“I really love the humility of it ... it’s a way to contribute to
the entertainment industry and nobody knows you’ve been there,”
The family made Burbank its home, attracted to the city’s
“outstanding Police and Fire Department” and school system, Michaels
said. Piemonte also likes their proximity to the studios and
Burbank-Glen- dale-Pasadena Airport, since their work can involve
Piemonte relishes the chance to map out a stunt and safely create
the illusion of mayhem on the screen. But the work poses risks.
"[It’s] not out of the norm for one of us to say, ‘I’m at the
hospital and I’m pretty busted up,’ ” Piemonte said.
In 1998, Michaels broke her back jumping from a two-story building
while working as Pamela Anderson’s double on “V.I.P.”
Recovering from the accident, as well as giving birth to son
Vincent a few years before, led her to intensify her training as a
martial artist and all-around stunt performer.
“I’m probably the strongest I’ve ever been,” Michaels said.
The couple’s leaps off tall buildings are buffered by their faith
as devout Christians, Michaels said.
“Watching my husband drive a car and flip it 100 feet through the
air, and knowing he’s going to walk away ... it intensifies my faith
in God,” Michaels said.
Each performs stunts of that level about four times each year.
They are paid a daily or weekly rate for their work, with a bonus for
riskier stunts and ones that must be performed several times. Careers
for stuntwomen generally last until they are about 40, but men can
continue until they are 80 since they can wear padding under their
suits, while a woman in a skirt cannot, Michaels said.