October 18, 2013
Alumnus soars to new heightsWhat do you get when you put together high falls, gun fights, stunt driving and dying numerous times in a day?
The answer: a normal day at work for actor and stuntman Jay Boryea.
A 1973 graduate of Susquehanna, Boryea said that it wasn't always his plan to become an actor and stuntman.
"My goal was to be a basketball coach, and I thought that the best way to get to that was through teaching," he said.
A basketball player himself while here at Susquehanna, along with being a history major with a minor in education, Boryea said that when he got his first teaching job he "had started out as a history teacher and then moved into gym and physical education, and later became a driver's education teacher."
It was during his time working as a bouncer that Boryea found out that acting and doing stunt work was for a possibility he hadn't considered.
"I had a friend who got a job on a film and I went to go visit him. He was showing me around Universal Studios lot and I met some stars, and I ended up meeting Mr. T. After talking a while, he ended up convincing me to give show business a try," he said.
Going into a business he really didn't know much about, Boryea said that he wished he was active in theatre while at Susquehanna.
"I wish I had taken a drama course here at SU, and I wish I had participated more. But at the time, it wasn't something that really interested me," he said.
Having an extensive background in martial arts and karate helped Boryea land his first part in the entertainment business,, which eventually convinced him to stop teaching.
"I had gotten hired as an extra on a film called 'The Last Dragon,' and later I ended up doubling as one of the actors on the film. It slowly clicked that the money was better than teaching, so I just ended up quitting teaching," he said.
The lessons he learned as a history major, however, and even as a basketball player, have not all gone to waste though, Boryea said.
"Studying history has helped me get into character and has helped me to understand and delve deep into finding the background. Even in basketball I learned a lot about teamwork and a lot about timing, which is very important in stunts," he said.
Boryea has now been in the entertainment business for almost three decades and has been a part of 47 movies, including, "A Beautiful Mind," "Surrogates," "Analyze That" and "All The Kings Men," as a double for late actor James Gandolfini.
He has also been in around 200 television series, which include a recurring role on "One Life to Live," and guest spots on "The Sopranos," "Law and Order" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
As a stuntman and actor who has worked with the likes of Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Charlie Sheen, Matt Damon, James Franco and John Malkovich, Boryea said he still has some struggles he must deal with.
"I am not great with heights," Boryea said, even though he does backwards jumps off of buildings and plunges into water that is only 45 degrees.
As can be expected, being a stuntman doesn't come without risk of injury.
Boryea said that he has had his fair share of injuries throughout his time in the industry; some at his own hand and some at the hands of others he is working with
"I've had a hairline fracture in my wrist. I've dislocated my shoulder, and I was knocked unconscious. I was doing a fight scene on 'Life on Mars,' and I had crashed into a bar table and my head hit the guard rail," he said.
However, no matter how many injuries he may get, Boryea said that he wouldn't want to trade his job for anything else.
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