Meet Uros Uki, a well known stuntman and a daredevil with a taste for adrenaline. Uros recently suffered a major injury during the production of El-Mammar (The Passage), an action movie starring Ahmed Ezz.
We reached out to Uros after the accident and asked him about a lot of things, including his career and his recent injury.
1- Tell us a bit about yourself and how long have you been working as a stuntman?
My name is Uros Uki Certic. I was born in Belgrade, Serbia. In 1995, after the Yugoslavian War, I migrated to Vancouver, Canada, where I have been working as a professional stuntman and actor since my 1st stunt in the hit series Smallville in 2009.
2- What kind of training did you need to kick-start your stunting career?
I was a semi-pro freestyle sports bike stuntman doing stunt shows all around Canada, Las Vegas, Seattle and I did one show in Jamaica. I have been working as an extra for years. I met stunt guys on set and started training gymnastics, kickboxing, stage fighting, and did a lot of acting with them.
It took me about 4 years to become a full union member of ACTRA union (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists) and to be officially a part of the stunts industry. My first big role was in The A-Team. I acted as a replacement for my friend, who broke his neck, and worked for about two weeks. I was very excited back then and it was a big breakthrough for me.
3- Do you Remember your first stunt? How did you feel back then?
My 1st stunt was on Smallville, a TV series about a young Superman. I played an orderly in a hospital and was restraining one of the lead actors who has gone mad in the show. I used to volunteer on that show a lot; when I got the call to work as a stuntman, I was very surprised and happy that they finally offered me a stunt job. It felt like winning the lottery.
4- Where did you play your last stunt?
The stunt in El-Mammar was in an army base in Suez. After a long chase and exhausting fight on a rooftop, I (playing Ahmed Ezz’s character) and the other lead actor who plays the antagonist fell through the roof on the top of a bar.
5- What went wrong during the stunt?
The boards were cut wrong, from above and then knit from below; it should have been the opposite, in order to fall through without any hindrance. I went to the stunt room to put my pads on while the coordinator, Andrew McKenzie, a crew member prepare the stunt.
When I came back, I was pumped on and focusing on the stunt. The coordinator didn’t check the way the boards were cut. Another stunt double and myself climbed up the steps. On our marks, we fell through.
The boards didn’t break evenly at the right time; my head and shoulders went through before my legs, which sent me head first into the wood floor 3 meters and 15 cm below.
I broke 3 vertebrates in my spine and was bedbound. After 4 days, production asked me to fly back home. I went to another doctor on my own and he said “NO WAY” you have a very serious injury and you can’t be allowed to fly and sit in a chair for longer than 30 minutes.
The coordinator deleted me on Facebook and left me in Egypt on my own. They never told me I needed to buy insurance and was told: “Maybe you should have cut the boards.”
6- Were you compensated?
I was paid an extra of one week for my broken spine. I wasn’t compensated at all. I worked two times before in Egypt and never had problems.
I even played Roman on El Kabir Awi for 3 episodes and never had any problems. I will never ever accept to work with Sharif Arafa and Andrew McKenzie ever again no matter how much they offer to pay. Another two stunt guys got their hands and face burned while doing fire burn stunts.
In my opinion, Andrew is not a stunt coordinator, he is an action director at best.
7- Was it the first stunt to go wrong? Is this your first injury?
I am the 3rd stunt to go wrong; two guys got burned a day before on set, Tarek and Youssef.
8- How long did it take you to recover?
I am still recovering. I have been on painkillers for 3 months, taking them every day. My bones are excepted to heal completely in another 3–4 months. I am not working and can’t work and nobody seems to care about my condition.
9- What is your favorite stunt during your career?
I really like stunt acting and my whole life is about this career. I liked playing an Egyptian guard in Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum and a Russian soldier in the X Files.
10- What would you advise aspiring stuntmen and women to do in order to maintain a successful career?
I strongly advise all stuntmen to have a written contract on paper and always to ask for insurance. Productions care only about profits and budgets and not about you. Be safe and most importantly, have fun.
We thank Uros for talking to us and giving us very useful insights into the struggles of stuntmen in a very volatile and competitive industry. And we wish him all the best and speedy, unhindered recovery.
You can follow Uros for more information on his Instagram (here) and check his demo reel via the link below: