She is one of the most in-demand stuntwomen in Hollywood. A native of France,¬†Ga√ęlle¬†Cohen was recently¬†featured in the award-winning box office smash Zero Dark Thirty.¬†Her stunts have long been receiving industry acclaim for their breathtaking craft and gritty realism.
But when she‚Äôs not busy shooting major studio productions like Rush Hour 3,Babylon A.D.¬†and the upcoming disaster thriller Black Sky, she‚Äôs cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Ga√ęlle is a true gourmet cook with a passion for organic cooking.
Here she shares her tales of working with a host of stars and provides some of her favorite recipes that you can whip up in the comfort of your own home.
CelebZter: How did you get into being a stuntwoman?
Ga√ęlle:¬†I had just finished law school when a friend of mine asked me to help her on a show for which she urgently needed a replacement actress. I had never done that before, but she figured I wasn‚Äôt shy and would pull it off. There I met some stunt people who were practicing fencing‚ÄĒI found out they were actually rehearsing for an audition. I was on the National French Fencing Team for many years before that, so I offered to help them put a fight together.
Several days later, the stunt coordinator calls me and offers me to work for him on the sword fights for a TV show called ‚ÄúHighlander.‚ÄĚ I hadn‚Äôt the slightest idea of what stunt work was, but after my first day on set, I knew this was what I wanted to do. Law was definitely not for me anymore.
CelebZter: How do you train for stunts?
Ga√ęlle:¬†After my experience on Highlander, the only skill I had was fencing, which is a start, but not enough to be hired as a complete stunt woman. So I started training full-time to acquire all the skills stunt people need to perform in movies. Not only did I attend the National Circus School to learn trapeze and acrobatics, but I practiced martial arts, horse riding, trampoline, motocross, high falls, etc.
I trained for a year and a half, before really starting to consider myself “hireable” as a stunt woman.
On a regular basis, you work out to keep in shape, and you train to maintain or improve the level of your skills.
CelebZter: What is the best experience you have had on a movie set?
Ga√ęlle:¬†There are so many! This is why I love my job, just like all stunt people do, I am sure. One of my most memorable memories is from spending time in the Moroccan desert dunes, riding a camel as Penelope Cruz‚Äôs stunt double in the movie ‚ÄúSahara.‚ÄĚ It was such a magical moment.
I also remember, 15 years ago on my first feature film (a movie called Young Blades with Hugh Dancy) I was on the top of a 35-foot tree in a French countryside forest, ready to slide down on a rope and jump on a horse. It was then that I realized how incredible my life was. The beautiful view and the wind in my ears just added to the whole experience. I felt really blessed.
CelebZter: And the best celebrity you have met?
Ga√ęlle:¬†Penelope Cruz, Jessica Biel, Matthew McConaughey and Kathryn Bigelow. Penelope Cruz and Jessica Biel are such down to earth women! Matthew‚ÄĒwell, ladies‚ÄĒhe is just the perfect man! So handsome and humble, a real gentleman.
Kathryn Bigelow also really impressed me. After seeing The Hurt Locker, I remember thinking ‚ÄúIf only I could work with her!”¬†So when I arrived on her set in Jordan last year for Zero Dark Thirty, it was like a dream. And she is so strong, so beautiful, so quiet, and so tall! You can’t help but to stare at her in amazement.
CelebZter: Do you ever get scared before a stunt?
Ga√ęlle:¬†I wouldn’t say I am ever scared before a stunt. I am, however, totally aware of the accompanying dangers. I think being aware of danger is different from been scared. The idea that stunt people are fearless and practically invincible is a funny misconception that the majority of people have. If I really feel like I can’t do a stunt, because I am not skilled enough or because it is too dangerous for me, then I will simply turn the job down and tell the coordinator the truth: I can’t do it. If I was to be scared before performing it, it would mean that I shouldn’t have accepted it to begin with, or that the something in the setup of the stunt isn’t exactly how it should be for me to feel comfortable.
Some stunts are more dangerous than others, of course. And you feel more pressure. But you shouldn’t be “scared.‚ÄĚ Being scared means not being sure of yourself, and if you are not 100% confident that you can do it, you will hold back or hesitate. That is when accidents happen.
CelebZter: When did you discover your passion for cooking?
Ga√ęlle:¬†A long time ago! I am French, and naturally we are raised in a kitchen. I love to cook for my boyfriend and I love to host and experiment with new recipes. I even make pizza with fresh produce and cook them on pizza stones. Delicious!
CelebZter: What major disasters have you had in the kitchen?
Gaelle:¬†So many! Luckily, most of the time I am by myself and there is no camera to witness it!
I remember one time forgetting that I was boiling eggs, and realized two hours after what the black smoke coming out of the kitchen was.
Once I had some trouble with the traditional French Crepe flipping technic, which is basically throwing the crepe up in the air for it to land back on the pan on its other side. It took me 30 minutes to clean up my ceiling!
CelebZter: What is your favorite dish to cook?
Ga√ęlle:¬†As I mentioned earlier, I love to cook pizza. After you are done with the dough, it’s so fun to create a customized pizza for each of your guests with the toppings of their choice. It’s not as hard as people would think, and it’s a real convivial experience to prepare it with them around.
CelebZter: What is your guilty pleasure?
Ga√ęlle:¬†Nutella! Definitely, absolutely, undeniably. As far as I can remember, it has always been my favorite guilty snack. Nutella on a piece of toast…Just thinking about it, I think I will prepare a slice to enjoy while answering the rest of your questions!
CelebZter: How important is it for you to eat healthy and cook well in your line of work.
Ga√ęlle:¬†It is really important. Not only for my line of work, but for my health in general. I like to eat healthy and organic as much as possible. Before being a stunt woman, I was an athlete, and healthy nutrition was already part of my life.¬†We work in Hollywood, where lean bodies are a must. We double actresses who are very thin, and even though we need to have strong muscles to perform stunts, we need to stay as lean as possible to be as seamless doubles as possible.
CelebZter: Can you share your tips for a perfect meal for a small gathering?
Ga√ęlle: I like the “buffet” set up when more than just a couple of friends are coming over. It’s fun and it‚Äôs easy. You can be very creative and you can cook whatever you like, without feeling like you must have a starter, a main course, and a desert. I often do only a mix of appetizers, cold starters and desserts! You don’t have to worry about serving warm, nor sitting everybody around a table.
I also love the idea and the simplicity of “bite sized” portions. Even desserts can be small–and that means you can have more than just one!
CelebZter: And can we get three of your favorite recipes to share with our readers so they can whip them up at home?
Yellow peppers and onion soup
Very easy, and so delicious for a fall or winter evening.
6 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 small boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced
5 to 6 cups defatted chicken broth
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1. Lay 6 pepper halves, cut-side down, on a baking sheet; broil until well charred, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plastic bag; seal for 10 minutes. Slip off and discard the skins. Coarsely chop the roasted peppers, then set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the onions, salt, and pepper; saut√© over low heat about 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. Coarsely chop the remaining 6 pepper halves; add to the pot with the potatoes, reserved roasted peppers and 5 cups broth. Simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
4. Puree in a food processor, adding a bit more broth if it’s too thick. Refrigerate to chill. Serve in tiny cups, garnished with the chives.
Very light and very different from the usual salads
1 cup of farro
Salt and pepper
Olive oil and vinegar
1. Warm up a spoon of olive oil in a pan. When hot, add the farro. When grizzling, add a cup and a half of water, cook on high heat until it boils, then cover and turn to low heat for 40 minutes.
2. In a pan, slightly roast the asparagus cut in thin slices with the prosciutto . Reserve.
3. Slice the ricotta in very thin pieces ( almost to scramble ). Reserve.
4. Mix a table spoon of vinegar, a table spoon of mustard, 3 table spoon of olive oil, stirr then add salt and pepper ( a vinaigrette :)¬†
5. Let the farro cool off, when almost cold, add all the reserved ingredients.
6. Top with Italian parsley leafs, and serve.
Nutella hot sandwiches!¬†
Coat 2 slices of bread with a thick layer of Nutella, sprinkle crushed nuts on it, close the sandwich and place it on a hot sandwich maker ( or a panini maker )¬†