Emmy-winning stunt coordinator Cort L. Hessler III got his start in Florida, where he grew up, at Disney when the theme park came to his high school scouting for talent. He water skied, did live shows, anything and everything that was available to him.
When Universal Studios opened in 1990 he auditioned for, and got, a Miami Vice-style show in the park’s lagoon and that kicked off his film and television stunt career. With live shows and film and television being shot for onlookers and tourists to see, Hessler jumped in head first, filming stunts in the park. That led his first big break, the NBC primetime show SeaQuest 2032 starring Roy Scheider and Jonathan Brandis. Hessler doubled for Brandis and he became a go-to for water and underwater stunt work.
On NBC’ The Blacklist, a job he got over Facebook while working on Blue Bloods, Hessler is proud of the level of practical stunts he employs (including more than one character on fire, CGI-free) and the safety he demands on his set.
In our chat we talk about his directorial debut on the show last season (he’ll have another one next season), his favorite types of stunts, his favorite sequences from this last season, his advice for those interested in this (sometimes literally) backbreaking work, and if the Oscars will catch up to the Emmys and Screen Actors Guild in recognizing stunt work.
Season 6 of The Blacklist will return this September on NBC.
The Emmy voting period ends August 27th at 10pm PST.
The Creative Arts Emmys will be a two-night affair on Saturday, September 8th (where Hessler’s category is slotted) and Sunday, September 9th.
The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will be Monday, September 17th.