Action-packed blockbusters bring in millions at the box office, captivating audiences around the world. Yet, the men and women who create those memorable movie moments are shut out from receiving one of the greatest honors in Hollywood: the Academy Award.
For 26 years, stunt coordinator Jack Gill has tried to convince the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to add an Oscar category for stunt coordinators. Gill has worked on many major big screen blockbusters, including "Fast & Furious" 5, 7, and 8 as well as the "Ride Along" movies. He's also performed some of the biggest stunts in Hollywood.
"We work very hard on these movies," Gill told the NBC4 I-Team. "We give our life and soul to them."
"The category of stunts is actually both an art and an science," said Tony Angelotti, who worked on "The Mask of Zorro" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. "Any action that is performed on any motion picture, any TV show -- the stunts drive it."
Actors Johnny Depp and Vin Diesel are among those who have written impassioned letters on behalf of stunt coordinators and performers, supporting the introduction of a new category, or categories, that would honor their hard work. In 1994, actress Julia Roberts even mentioned Gill on "Larry King Live" while being interviewed for her 1994 movie "I love trouble."
"The only reason why I was on that catwalk was our stunt coordinator," Roberts said. "This man named Jack Gill, who is the smartest, safest, most cautious man."
Some stunt performers wonder about the seemingly arbitrary nature of the Academy Awards categories, in which colleagues are honored for achievements in areas like makeup and costume, while the contributions of stunt performers and coordinators are ignored.
"You see these Oscar ceremonies where all of your friends are up there waiting for their category to be nominated, these are all people who worked tooth and nail, and sweated blood, sweat, and tears with, and you're sitting at home watching TV, wondering why we're not a part of it," Gill said.
Gill says he still hasn't received a straight answer from the Academy.
"I'm blue in the face. I don't know what else to do. I've gone in there, I've stomped my feet," Gill said. "I've said 'What else can I do? Why are you trying after this long, to keep this category down?' It just doesn't make any sense."
For weeks, the NBC4 I-Team asked the Academy why stunt performers and coordinators don't have a stunt category, and whether the matter has ever been considered by its Board of Governors. Rather than answering specific questions, a spokesperson sent this statement:
"Stunt coordinators play an integral role in many movie productions, and those at the top of their craft are invited by their peers to become Academy members. We continue to encourage them to grow within our membership."
The Academy declined the I-Team's request for an on camera interview.