Award-winning Hollywood stuntwoman Tammie Baird grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. The eldest of six children, Tammie studied gymnastics as a child until her mother deemed it too dangerous and made her quit. Needless to say, it didn’t make Tammie shy away from risky activities. Quite the opposite, in fact. She’s since doubled for numerous A-list actresses when their characters have gotten in fights, been slammed on concrete, and hit by cars, just to name a few things. Despite all that, she says she’s never had any serious injuries, just a few aches and pains the next day.
When not on the set, Tammie can often be found swinging from the Traveling Rings at Santa Monica, which, she tells me, relieves her of all stress and makes her feel weightless and free. She says her “to do” list includes (probably to the horror of her mom) hanging from outside of a helicopter, crashing through glass, and doing a car-to-car transfer. (Yes, of course while they’re moving fast.)
Also an avid Pez collector (which is probably something only those close to her knew until now), the above photo of Tammie with two of her most prized Pez dispensers; Inspector Clouseau and the Pink Panther, is courtesy of Tammie, herself.
CHRIS CHARLES: It’s great to be featuring you here, Tammie. First off, congratulations on the Action Icon Award you won last year.
TAMMIE BAIRD: Thank you so much. It was such a wonderful feeling to be honored with the Special Achievement Award at the 6th Annual Action Icon Awards. It will always be so special to me.
CHRIS: You were born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but now you live in the LA area. Is there anything you miss about the Bay Area that LA just doesn’t have?
TAMMIE: I feel so lucky to live in California. No matter which end of California I am in, I am only an hour or so from the beach, the snow in the wintertime and some of the best wineries. But to answer you question, I love hearing people say, “hella.” That is totally a Nor-Cal thing.
CHRIS: Well, one of your colleagues, whom I’ve corresponded with and featured here recently, Jasi Lanier, speaks hella highly of you. How did you and her first meet?
TAMMIE: I love Jasi. She is so dedicated to her training and becoming the best stuntwoman that she can be. Which is how we met; training at a gymnastics gym in Los Angeles. She may be all of 5’1″ but she is a tough cookie.
CHRIS: I surely agree. So, who are some others in your field whom you admire?
TAMMIE: There are so many amazing stuntmen and women who I absolutely admire and have the utmost respect for that it would be impossible to list everyone. Without naming any names, I would say that the stunt people whom I admire the most are the ones who go after it. They train everyday honing in on their skills and never give up.
CHRIS: How long did you study ballet?
TAMMIE: It wasn’t until I was 20 that I went to London and discovered Pineapple Dance Studios. It was then that I feel in love with ballet. I would take classes and stay there all day long. Everyone at that dance studio was amazing. I loved it there.
CHRIS: Has your ballet training been beneficial to you in your stunt work?
TAMMIE: Yes, I do feel that my dance training has helped me in stunts. Ballet is so disciplined that you need to be focused and this holds true for stunts. It has also helped me with learning and picking up choreography quickly.
CHRIS: I don’t usually ask “generic” questions, but whenever I interview a stuntwoman, I like to ask certain questions. Such as; have you ever been notably injured while performing a stunt?
TAMMIE: I am very happy to say that I have not been seriously injured while performing a stunt. However, if you ask, “Have I ever woken up the following day super sore and very bruised up? Then answer to that would be, “Oh yes I have!”
CHRIS: Are there any stunts you haven’t performed yet, that you really want to?
TAMMIE: Where do I start? I have always wanted to hang from outside of a helicopter, like in True Lies. I have crashed onto glass but I really want to crash through the glass! Of course, doing a car to car transfer sounds
like so much fun! I can go on and on.
CHRIS: How often are you asked to perform a stunt on the spot, that wasn’t planned?
TAMMIE: Being asked to perform a stunt on the spot, that wasn’t planned is something that you need to be ready for. In the film and television business, things change all the time. Be prepared or go home!
CHRIS: You’re fairly tall, so have you ever stunt doubled for any (male) actors?
TAMMIE: No. I have never stunt doubled a male actor. That would be so much fun. I’d have to do a completely different walk and mannerisms than what I am used to. I love acting, so that would be a welcomed challenge.
CHRIS: What’s the most extreme thing you’ve had to do to resemble an actress you’ve stunt doubled for?
TAMMIE: I am pretty lucky. I always seem to be the same height and weight as the actresses that I double. So there is never an issue of extreme dieting for me. Which is great because I love to eat food. I hate to sound boring but the most extreme thing that I’ve ever had to do was that I had to remove my belly button ring for a job.
CHRIS: I’ll throw some titles at you and I’d like you to tell me some of the stunts you’ve performed in them: Legends.
TAMMIE: Legends was so much fun. I played an assassin. It wasn’t a heavily stunted job. I just had to kill a few people.
CHRIS: Fast & Furious.
TAMMIE: Fast and Furious was awesome. Myself and another stuntman quickly get out of the way of Paul Walker’s speeding car. To this day that stunt gag is one of my favorite near misses.
TAMMIE: On the day that I worked Desperate Housewives, I was asked to do a simple trip and fall, only to then get trampled by the neighbors who were running in fear of their lives.
TAMMIE: I did a fight scene with actor Raymond Cruz. He is so great to work with. I also did two rape attack scenes. One with which was very brutal.
CHRIS:The Purge: Anarchy/ The Purge 2
TAMMIE: On The Purge: Anarchy I played Hanover Sister #1 and have a great fight with actor, Frank Grillo who plays Sergeant.
CHRIS: Now some names of ladies you’ve stunt doubled for: Sofia Vergara.
TAMMIE: I have had a lot of fun doubling Sofia. She always has the best wardrobe with most beautiful high heel shoes. The first time that I doubled her was on Modern Family. I drove a car through an exit arm of a parking garage and then sped off.
CHRIS: Daniela Ruah.
TAMMIE: I did my first car hit on the set of NCIS: Los Angeles doubling Daniela Ruah as Kensi Blye. I was smiling ear to ear the entire time. It was awesome!! I doubled Daniela for four seasons on NCIS: Los Angeles and one of the stunts that really stands out for me would be the stunt that I refer to as my hardest hit. I am fighting with another stuntman and he slams me down to the cement on my back! The stunt did not end there, I had to get up and continue the fight. Thankfully we only did that once. Other stunts that I did on that show include fights, explosions, inverted repelling and sliding down the center of an escalator on my knees, chasing the bad guy, etc.
CHRIS: Katey Sagal.
TAMMIE: Whenever I get a call to double Katey Sagal as Gemma on Sons of Anarchy, I know that it is going to be interesting to say the least. The first time that I was asked to double Katey Sagal on Sons of Anarchy, it was to do a rape scene, it was pretty intense. As was the fight scene that took place on the season finale in season six, where Gemma kills her son’s wife!
CHRIS: Katee Sackoff.
TAMMIE: I had such a great time being on location in New Mexico doubling Katee Sackoff on the television show, Longmire. My first time doubling her was to take a car hit. This was an interesting job because my boyfriend at the time was the stunt driver who hit me. Talk about pressure.
CHRIS: So, does it feel that the Gemma action figure is just as much your likeness as Katey Sagal’s, since you both actually play that character?
TAMMIE: I have seen the action figure. I think that the likeness is exactly like Katey Sagal as Gemma. I just do the physical action, when needed, so that Katey stays safe and unharmed. She does the character work, Gemma is all her.
CHRIS: What do you love the most about the flying rings in Santa Monica? (Wink to Jasi Lanier)
TAMMIE: What I love most about flying the traveling rings is that when I am swinging, I am weightless and free. No matter what kind of day I had or what stress is going on in my life, during my ring swings none of that matters and life is just good.
CHRIS: How often can you be found there?
TAMMIE: I try to get to the beach at least three times a week to swing the rings.
CHRIS: I understand you’re a wine connoisseur?
TAMMIE: Well I don’t know about “connoisseur” but I do enjoy drinking red wine.
CHRIS: Can you identify wines just by aroma and taste?
TAMMIE: No. Not at all (laughing).
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or interests that most people don’t know about?
TAMMIE: Yes. I am a big Pez collector. I love them. My favorite Pez dispensers would be my Pink Panther collection. I have always been a big Peter Sellers fan.
CHRIS: With that, I’ll say again what a pleasure this has been, Tammie. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
TAMMIE: I would like to give a shout-out to all of the awesome stunt coordinators who have hired me and continue to hire me. I am truly grateful. Thank you.
CHRIS: Oh, just one last question: Was that cake you went face first into on Days of Our Lives really delicious?
TAMMIE: Yes it was! My only regret is that I did not find out who the baker was.
Doubling for Shannon Elizabeth in Chris Brown’s music video for Next 2 You
Driver’s view of Tammie from the Next 2 You music video
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.
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