High-flyer: Iranian stunt woman Mahsa Ahmadi
She fights, she drives cars at breakneck speed, she jumps out of planes and helicopters ... these are just a few of the talents of Mahsa Ahmadi, the best stunt woman in Iran. Having worked for years in Iran and experienced the restrictions there, she would now like to emigrate, if possible to the United States. She already has confirmation that she'll be working on the next James Bond film.
There are just under a dozen stunt women in Iran, but Mahsa Ahmadi is the best of them all. In 2012, she parachuted out of a plane at 2,000 metres. The height didn't seem to worry her at all. "The biggest problem was getting the authorities to give me – a woman – the permit I needed to make the jump," she recalls.
Global stunt success with the James Bond film "Skyfall": "Mahsa Ahmadi can do anything that a male 'double' can do. She is the number one in Iran," says Arsha Aghdasi (centre). Ahmadi (right) has been with the stunt group "Stunt 13" ever since it was founded in 2007. She had already done a number of dangerous scenes in 21 Iranian films when she shot to world fame in 2012 in the most recent James Bond film, "Skyfall".
Gymnastics champion: Mahsa Ahmadi is now 24 years of age, but her career began when she was a young child. As a gymnast, she spent eleven years on the Iranian national team, winning numerous competitions in the process. When she had to leave the national team at the age of 18, she found a new challenge in the group "Stunt 13". She is also a qualified sports teacher.
Woman in a male-dominated world: the stunt scene in Iran is a male-dominated world: "most of the time, women's roles in Iranian films are pretty safe; nothing happens to them, explains "Stunt 13" boss Arsha Aghdasi. "Slowly, however, things are changing. With her courageous and professional manner, Ahmadi has gradually won the trust of the directors."
Islamic dress code: another difficulty faced by stunt women in Iran is the fact that they are required by the state to wear a veil even when performing stunts! Their hair and body also have to be completely covered, and the clothes they wear must not be too close-fitting. "This can be frustrating when you are doing a stunt," says Ahmadi.
Out of the blue: the high point of Mahsa Ahmadi's career so far was the filming of the last James Bond film, "Skyfall". The job came as a surprise to the group. "Stunt 13" had performed a stunt in a Turkish film where a car flew six metres into the air over a truck. The photo spread quickly via Facebook. Several months later, the group received a phone call from the Bond production team.
Award-winners: in 2013, the international stunt crew of 100 men and 4 women won the American Screen Actors Guild Award for the best stunt group in a feature film. For Ahmadi, the breakneck car chases and furious scenes in "Skyfall" were a "unique experience".
Here we see Mahsa Ahmadi covered in flames for a film scene. Her boss Arsha Aghdasi says of her: "She has been in my group longer than anyone else. I was toughest with her, but she stuck with it; many others left." Nevertheless, since shooting "Skyfall", Ahmadi has made up her mind: "I'm leaving. There are too few opportunities and too many restrictions in Iran."
Trail-blazer for women: "So far, I've kept up with the boys," says a proud Mahsa Ahmadi. She says that she does so for a number of reasons, including her desire to set an example for Iranian women and to open doors for them so that they make their own way in a world dominated by men. Today, a number of women in Iran are training to become stunt women.
Ready to go: Ahmadi, who has already received confirmation that she will be working as a stunt woman on the next James Bond film, would like to emigrate to the US. She has got all her papers together and is ready to go. "Hollywood? Why not?" she says. "You always learn something new when you are abroad."