Will Erichson talks new bursary fund & life as a Hollywood stunt double

Will Erichson talks new bursary fund & life as a Hollywood stunt double

At 6’1,” Will Erichson is the first to admit that he’s not built for competitive gymnastics—but, as it turns out, the long and lean North Vancouver native was meant to pursue a different calling: in Hollywood. The former Flicka gymnast is currently living his dream as a stunt performer, appearing in hit shows and movies including Deadpool, War for the Planet of the Apes, and most recently, CW’s Arrow: “I get to go to work every day, put on a green hood, and shoot fake arrows at bad guys,” he tells Gymnastics BC. When he’s not doubling your favourite actors onscreen, Erichson spends what little free time he has left giving back to the BC gymnastics community. In addition to coaching at Flicka Gymnastics Club, the passionate stunt actor is focused on promoting The Gymnast Alumni Bursary of British Columbia, a new venture that he started with his company, E-Stunts Performance Ltd.

The bursary fund will give away a total of $20,000 to eligible athletes at the 2018 BC High School Championships, taking place on March 8-10 at Moscrop Secondary School in Burnaby. “Gymnasts don’t get a lot of funding opportunities in BC,” says Erichson, “it’s not a very covered sport. I want to use these bursaries as a way to show athletes that this sport can give them a lot of stuff beyond the physical.”

In order to make The Gymnast Alumni Bursary as accessible as possible, Erichson insisted on a foolproof application process: “one of the biggest issues is that there are a million scholarships out there, but the applications take so long to fill out,” he explains. To be eligible for a Gymnast Alumni Bursary, athletes only need to meet two simple requirements: be in grade 12 and compete at the 2018 BC High School Championships. “It was designed to be plug and play,” says Erichson, “[the athletes] go in, they compete, and at the end of the competition, they get a certificate that says, ‘hey, you did really well, here’s $4,000.’ To me that’s just so cool.”

So how does an athlete go from being a competitive gymnast to one of the most in-demand stunt doubles in Hollywood? For Erichson, the transition felt natural. As a competitive gymnast, Erichson suffered a major setback when he broke and dislocated his neck. Post-recovery, he was determined to return to the gym for one more year of competition: “that year I didn’t perform well,” he reveals, “I was coming in last, but it was a lot of fun. Ironically enough, after a big injury like that, other opportunities started to appear with stunts. At Flicka, we had adult drop-in, and back then, it was the place to go for all of the stunt guys. After training, I would hang out with them and talk with them—I was always sort of interested in that kind of stuff.”

"Whenever I go back to the gym, it’s still the ‘happy place,’ it’s still the place where I feel the most comfortable, the most confident, the most ‘me’ out of any other situation."

Erichson began to train a lot more with the stunt performers at Flicka, making connections that would help him make a successful transition out of gymnastics: “I wasn’t a very good gymnast. I started super late, so it wasn’t as if I was going to make a national team or anything like that,” says Erichson. He got his big break in his last year of competing, when he auditioned for the movie Tron:  “it just so happened that they needed a tall, skinny guy to fit the suit. I went down, did some flips, and they said, ‘at least you fit the suit—‘cause no one’s fitting it—so you can have the job.’”

Erichson tells us that formal training isn’t a requirement to be a stunt performer, but a background in gymnastics and martial arts definitely helps: “[stunt performing] is very multi-sport specific. Acrobatics and air awareness help immensely—that’s where gymnastics comes in. Martial arts is also key, because when you start [in the industry], you’re just the goon running in and fighting. Those are the two basic staples that will get you into the industry. Once you’re in the industry, you learn on the spot.”

The numerous parallels between stunt performing and competitive gymnastics made it easy for Erichson to transition into his chosen career path: “it’s really ironic how similar [stunt performing] is to a gym competition: you get warmed up, your head’s in the right place, you’ve talked to your coaches, you’ve checked the equipment, and you sit down. Then, you’re watching this whole production in front of you, and all of a sudden, they call your name, you get that surge of adrenaline, and it’s your job to perform.”

When he’s not filming, Erichson is busy getting camera-ready: training at the gym, eating professionally prepared meals, and putting in countless hours at rehearsal. “After rehearsal day, I usually try to go to yoga or back to the gym if I’m not satisfied—or I’ll go to adult drop-in at Delta, Aviva, or Flicka, and work on flip-y stuff,” he explains.

Erichson is currently in his second year filming the hit CW series, “Arrow,” but his career highlight so far has been when he doubled for Ryan Reynolds on the Marvel blockbuster, Deadpool. “I wasn’t supposed to be one of his doubles,” he tells us, “unfortunately, one of my buddies who was doubling [Reynolds] ended up getting hurt, and I was the third-string backup goalie. I was told to put on the suit, and would have 2 days to learn a few fights. It was a big learning experience. I was working for 21 days straight—it was quite exhausting to say the least.” Despite the physical toll of a non-stop film schedule, Erichson looks back on the experience with no regrets: “getting to call myself one of the Deadpool doubles was really cool.”

Given the intense physical nature of his job, Erichson knows that one day, he’ll have to hang up the superhero suit for good—but not anytime soon: “the doors are still very open for me. I’ll perform for as long as my body says I can perform. There’s a lot of guys I know in their 50’s and 60’s that still perform.” When his performance days do come to an end, Erichson has no shortage of alternatives: “I could try to get into fight choreography, or stunt coordinating, or even stunt rigging,” he tells us, but his heart is still very much in gymnastics. He believes that ultimately, his career will come full circle, back to the sport he loves: “once I’m kind of done with film, I’ll probably switch the focus back to gymnastics. I still hold on to gymnastics, and deep down, I would love to come back to the sport—whether it be trying to open up my own gym or managing one—that’s kind of where I’d like to go. Whenever I go back to the gym, it’s still the ‘happy place,’ it’s still the place where I feel the most comfortable, the most confident, the most ‘me’ out of any other situation.”

For the time being, however, Will is simply enjoying the ride: “you can’t complain when you get to play superhero for a living.”

To learn more about The Gymnast Alumni Bursary, visit