by Feifei Sun.
After jumping, falling, crashing and burning on the set of more than 300 films, Hal Needham became the first Hollywood stuntman to transition to film directing with his 1977 feature Smokey and the Bandit. In that movie, he became the first director to include outtakes in the end credits, now a standard in action, comedy and animated films.
In his new memoir, Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life, Needham recalls career highlights such as doubling for stars like Burt Reynolds and Dean Martin and teaching John Wayne how to really throw a punch. He spoke to TIME about the mental and physical preparations involved in putting together a stunt, his distaste of CGI and why he has never once turned down a stunt.