Concordia’s Interim Head Football Coach is Stuntin’ On ‘Em
Patrick Donovan Doubles as an Actor
In an X-Men: Apocalypse scene, a Polish police officer handcuffs Magneto, tearing him away from his daughter, Nina. After a flock of birds attacks the group of officers and one cop accidentally kills Nina, Magneto uses a necklace to slit the necks of every officer, killing them.
The officer cuffing Magneto is none other than Concordia Stingers’ interim head football coach, Patrick Donovan.
Reminiscent of a High School Musical scenario, Donovan does acting and stunt work whenever he isn’t busy with college football.
His acting career began in the comedy series Blue Mountain State, where he was the stunt double for a football player in the first season. In the third season of the show, he became the official football coordinator, meaning he choreographed football plays for the show.
“Being the coordinator, especially with football, you have to understand the behind the scenes and cheat things,” said Donovan.
“It’s not real football, you have to make it look as real as possible but you need to understand the behind the scenes. Since I was a coach and was part of the background stuff, I understood what they wanted.”
According to the executive producer of the show, Eric Falconer, Donovan was one of the “people who [would] really step up and make it easier for everybody,” describing the football scenes he wrote as perfect.
“He was a guy that anticipated a lot and went above and beyond and got things done that you weren’t even expecting for him to get done,” said Falconer. “He was just an incredibly valuable part of our team. Especially in the third season when he became the coordinator.”
As a coach and former football player, he understood how to execute football hits properly without getting hurt.
However, what may seem like simple or harmless stunts can be more dangerous than imagined.
“You have to be smart about it,” said Donovan. “There are certain techniques and movements you need to know. For example if you’re jumping over a moving car, there’s movements you need to make and roll over.”
He recalls one instance where a 45-year-old stunt double was trying to be “a big tough guy,” and got knocked out. An ambulance was called, but the shot was still used.
In another incident on the show, a stunt double was supposed to have a player cut his legs.
“As a football player, you know how to fall but this guy wasn’t a football player,” said Donovan. “He landed on his neck and head and had to go to the hospital.”
Despite witnessing these injuries, Donovan swears that doing stunts is less dangerous now than ever before, especially since he specializes in fight scenes.
“I don’t have time to practice setting myself on fire,” he jokes.
Since Blue Mountain State, Donovan has 13 credits under his name, including Warm Bodies, Smurfs 2, X-Men: Days of Futures Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Hochelaga, Land of Souls.
Some of his favourite stunts came from the X-Men films.
In Days of Futures Past, there’s a scene where he and other stuntmen are in a dump truck and bodies fall on them.
He explains one scene where he was wearing a harness with hydraulic ropes attached to his back.
“I get slammed up into the wall, about eight feet up, and then drop back to the floor,” said Donovan. “That was the one I liked the best.”
Donovan’s work ethic has helped him make a name for himself in the film community.
On the set of Hochelaga, Land of Souls, Yoona Kwak was in charge of wardrobe and worked closely with Donovan.
He was coordinating football scenes and brought in ex-players, which included guys he worked with or coached.
“Pat helped me procure all the pads, all the equipment aspects of it. In that way he completely was my right hand man,” said Kwak. “He had the talent and their sizes so the communication was wonderful because he’s such a helpful person.”
On the set, he helped the director and coordinate with him to set up shots for the best look.
“He did the most dramatic, authentic, real moves that only a coordinator would know,” she said. “I do American football commercials, I have no idea about college and stuff. He helped through that part to make it a believable action.”
There’s so many elements that go into making plays look authentic while having to make it look effortless. There’s also a lot of equipment involved. Kwak said that Donovan would be there the moment the guys showed up, set up the shots with the director, and was there every single time they were shooting.
“He’s so inclusive, he’s excellent to work with because he’s completely accountable,” said Kwak.
“If I had another opportunity to work with him I would,” Kwak added. “The guy was so resourceful and accountable. It was a pleasure and I know the director felt the same way, we loved working with him.”
According to Donovan, stunting could be a sustainable career depending on the chances one is willing to take.
“I love the work, it’s so much fun. I’m like a little kid at heart,” he said.
However, acting will merely remain a hobby for Donovan as coaching is his true calling.
“I’ll always keep this foot in the door. I’ll never lose [acting] because I love it. I want to keep doing it until the day I die, they need some old men on the stage,” he said laughing.