Terry Leonard is one of the most respected and admired stuntmen in film history. As a stunt performer, stunt coordinator and 2nd unit director, he has redefined stunts in motion pictures as a genuine art form. He is best known for doubling Harrison Ford in the legendary truck chase sequence in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), as well as directing the 2nd unit action for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). In 1975, a Special Category Academy Award Nomination was submitted by MGM Studios for Leonard’s stunt coordination on the John Milius film THE WIND AND THE LION (1975). In the 1984 film Romancing the Stone, Leonard doubled Michael Douglas in an incredible dive from a car as it went over an 80-foot waterfall. For that stunt and for others performed by his team of nine stunt performers, Leonard received three awards as 2nd unit director, stunt coordinator and stunt double at the first annual “Stuntmen Awards” television special. The director of Romancing the Stone, Robert Zemeckis, said in a 1984 interview, “Terry Leonard is the best.”
Leonard directed the unforgettable train wreck sequence for the 1993 film The Fugitive, the runaway stagecoach sequence in Maverick (1994), and the car chases in 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), and Fast & Furious (2009). His other credits as stunt coordinator and/or 2nd unit director include A Man Called Horse (1970), 1941 (1979), Used Cars (1980), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Blue Thunder (1983), Gremlins (1984), Red Dawn (1984), Tombstone (1993), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Rush Hour (1998), The Expendables (2010), Cowboys & Aliens (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013). Leonard also directed the 1987 feature film Death Before Dishonor.
His other notable work as a stunt performer includes a fall from a church steeple in 1966’s El Dorado. He set a high fall record for the film Run Shadow Run (1970), by falling eight stories into cardboard boxes. In the 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger, he performed the famous stagecoach drag stunt made famous by pioneer stuntman Yakima Canutt in Stagecoach (1939). In Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof (2007), Leonard overturned a pickup truck after narrowly avoiding a head-on collision in a carefully choreographed sequence with fellow stunt drivers Buddy Joe Hooker and Tracy Dashnaw. In 2013, he performed stunts in The Lone Ranger and was a stunt driver in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Leonard has been featured in several television specials and documentaries, including Great Movie Stunts: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The World’s Greatest Stunts: A Tribute to Hollywood Stuntmen (1988), as well as in the original Turner Classic Movies production, Behind the Action: Stuntmen in the Movies (2002).
Leonard’s athletic background includes achievements such as representing the University of Arizona in the 1964 United States Olympic Decathlon Trials in Tokyo, as well as three years as a professional football with the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football League.