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Tricks of the stunt trade

Posted: August 10, 2008 8:45 p.m.
Updated: October 12, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Anthony De Longis, from Canyon Country, shows off his lasso skills at his ranch home as wife Mary De Longis watches from behind on Sunday afternoon.

If you've ever watched Michelle Pfeiffer perform stunts as Catwoman in the movie "Batman Returns," you've seen the work of Anthony De Longis.

If you were a fan of Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the teachings of De Longis have probably popped out on screen.

That's because De Longis has been responsible for training Pfeiffer and Ford, as well as other actors, to use weapons in their high-adventure roles.

De Longis is a fight director, actor and self-described "whip master" and "sword master" who trains the actors of Hollywood on how to use their kicks and punches as the character's words.

De Longis and his wife, Mary, live in a small ranch community outside of Canyon Country.

At Rancho Indalo, a private hilltop property that overlooks the rolling hills of the Santa Clarita Valley, De Longis spends his days perfecting his skills, which range from pistol tricks to archery.

And those don't include the tricks he performs on horseback.

Rancho Indalo also serves as his office, as De Longis also brings his clients to undergo intensive training with whatever weapons the script calls for.

Currently he has been training Christian Kane for the television show "Leverage," but stunt teams from around the world spend time at Rancho Indalo.

De Longis sees his work as more than just high-powered punches and perfectly-choreographed fights.
"My philosophy is that an actor should do as much of their own work as possible," De Longis said, while at home at Rancho Indalo, a picturesque spot that gives visitors a chance to reflect on the Santa Clarita Valley's western history.

De Longis believes that as actors perform more of their own stunts, they are able to not only gain credibility, but also build confidence.

At the same time, De Longis views each combat as an opportunity to enhance the production's dialogue.
But it's his versatility and range of skills that has kept him in the movie business for more than three decades.

De Longis believes that working in Hollywood is "a constant struggle" because over time, it has become less structured and offers fewer guarantees.

But De Longis has stayed strong as he credits his drive to become a "more rounded, balanced performer" over the years.

As a result, he has something to be proud of.

"I've achieved a certain amount of fame," he said, as the warm summer breeze snuck in through his home.

That fame and reputation has allowed him to work with not only Ford and Pfeiffer, but Tom Cruise and Placido Domingo, while managing his own acting career.

The hard work has given De Longis his dream home, Rancho Indalo, where he has lived for the past six years.

"I have the quality of life I've always dreamed of," he said.

But De Longis isn't keeping his lifestyle to himself.

He offers an action vacation, bringing the everyday person to his private ranch to undergo training.

De Longis said the training sessions allow people to build their own adventures and learn anything from bullwhip cracking to knife, ax and tomahawk throwing.

"I teach people to do dangerous things safely," he said.

Just a few steps from his backyard is the training ground, which features a stable for his two horses, Latigo and Natchez. Next door to the horse arena are the wood targets De Longis uses for archery and blade throwing.

To De Longis, the level of expertise of the trainee doesn't matter as much as the dedication and interest in learning the tricks.

But whatever trick a person wants to pick up, the husband and wife, who frequently perform Wild West shows together, agree that the training is ultimately a source of relaxation for the mind, body and spirit.


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