He left Croatia and headed to America to further his martial arts career, but ten years later Goran Stjepanović is one of the most sought-after stuntmen in Hollywood. In the last three years the 43-year-old from the eastern city of Osijek has starred in 32 films and TV series in the U.S and Canada…
Stjepanović, who is a 5th Dan Black Belt and former Croatian kickboxing representative, national champion and coach, headed off to the U.S to further develop his martial arts skills, but seven years after arriving he found himself in the film industry.
“The film world was not in my plans at all. Not even in my thoughts. I was 33 years old and in Osijek achieved most of my personal and business ambitions, ” Goran, who opened up a martial arts school in Osijek and Miami, told Jutarnji list.
“I have friends who had (been stuntmen) for a few years, so through conversations with them I decided to try it out. At the start I got offers for ‘special skills’ roles, which is a category up from an extra. It was the start which opened doors to get contacts with stuntmen coordinators for films,” explained Stjepanović, adding that it was not easy at the start due to the immense competition for stuntmen roles.
Stjepanović, who also was a kickboxing coach of the US team, has appeared in over 30 different roles in the last 36 months, including playing an assassin in Canadian detective series Murdoch Mysteries, a role with Laurence Fishburne in Hannibal, parts in Lost Girl, 12 Monkeys, Nikita, Pompeii and also a role with Adam Sandler in Pixels.
“I was close to some big stars and it was a positive experience. None of them for one moment were arrogant at all. I did not ask for their autographs or take photos with them, I would only do that with my boyhood hero Jean-Claude Van Damme or Michael Pare,” said Goran, who will shortly head back to Canada, where he has gained citizenship, for some new challenges after visiting his home town of Osijek.