Big screen thrills capture Oak Bay grad

Stunt man and actor Jason Bell climbs aboard the starship Enterprise in this summer’s Star Trek blockbuster.

See Oak Bay-raised stunt man and actor Jason Bell in the new Star Trek movie

See Oak Bay-raised stunt man and actor Jason Bell in the new Star Trek movie

While Jason Bell’s sci-fi inclinations leaned more to Star Wars than Star Trek as a kid growing up in Oak Bay, wearing the famed red shirt aboard the bridge of the Enterprise in the summer blockbuster Star Trek Beyond was a huge thrill.

The stunt man and actor appears as Captain James T. Kirk’s right-hand man and first security officer in the famed franchise.

“It was pretty amazing to do the fitting for the iconic red shirt, let alone set foot on the Enterprise. It was very surreal my first day on set. The whole cast was hanging out and joking around and here I am containing my inner giddiness,” Bell says.

“It was a very humbling and exciting experience for me to be a small part of that massive universe, knowing that this franchise has been such a huge part of people’s lives around the world for decades.”

Growing up in Oak Bay, Bell attended Monterey elementary and Oak Bay High and was active in karate, ice hockey and soccer. Aspiring for a time to play soccer professionally, “I never thought about being involved in film until much later,” he says.

Even as an adult, his path to the big screen was anything but straight.

Post-secondary studies included immersing himself in Spanish language and culture while at college in Mexico City. He also earned a diploma in business and tourism, followed by work at the Fairmont Empress and  airmont Vancouver, in addition to time as an activities director in South Carolina.

“I did have a blast with those jobs but eventually I knew I would move on,” he says.

Bell also served an eight-month tour in Afghanistan as a communications specialist with his reserve unit. Venturing overseas a month before his unit, “I did everything from TOC (tactical operation command) duties, guard duty and mounted patrols through Kandahar City. I’m glad things happened the way they did because I got exposed to a wide array of experiences over there.”

He calls on his military background in his film work. “Most of the time we have guns on set and knowing how to handle them safely is a big plus. During my time on Godzilla, I was in a group of six guys and the military adviser asked if anyone had a military background. All the boys pointed at me, so from that point on I was the guy that would assist the guys when we needed to do something ‘tactical.’”

Based in Vancouver, Bell’s television credits include Smallville, Supernatural, Fear the Walking Dead, The Killing and Once Upon A Time. Most recently Bell can been seen on CW’s Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash. His Muay Thai, parkour and martial arts skills have also landed him work in action films The A-Team, Man of Steel, X- Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in some pretty cool movies, but I think my most memorable one was working as ‘Trask’s Guard’ in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I got to work closely with Jennifer Lawrence and had a pretty cool fight scene with her character, Mystique. I had a great time on that set in Montreal and I thought the movie turned out amazing.

Fear the Walking Dead was also just one of those jobs you show up to and you know it’s going to be a riot. I was one of the ‘stunt zombies’ and I actually had to audition as they were very specific on the movement. I ended up being part of this massive scene where we swarm an army base and all hell breaks loose. I was sad to see the show move production to Mexico.”

And on his theatrical bucket list?

Star Wars. Most definitely Star Wars. I’d literally take any role in one of those movies. There’s still hope!”

Purely a stunt guy when he started in the business – “someone who gets knocked around or even doubles the actor” –  Bell is flexing his acting chops more and more. “I do get thrown into roles or audition for roles that call for me to throw out a line or two … I’ve put more time and focus on my stunt career but am now slowly getting more into the acting side,” he says.

His Oak Bay roots help keep him grounded, says Bell, who hadn’t considered a film career while growing up on the corner of Victoria and Granite.

With his parents still living in the area, “I try to visit as much as I can as I definitely miss my buddies and all the nostalgic memories that go with the place,” Bell says.

“I’ve travelled all over Canada for work and am now pushing to work stateside. Having Victoria as my home always gives me the feeling of having a safe haven. A place where you can turn the phone off, hit up Willows Beach and go grab a burger at The Galley,” he says.

“I couldn’t ask for a cooler job, so I’m going to continue this ride and gain as much experience as I can along the way,” Bell says.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to get into producing and writing one day. There is a physical shelf-life for doing stunts, so it’s always good to look to the future for other endeavours I’d like to invest my time in.”

He encourages others with similar interests to pursue their passions.

“For any aspiring actors or stunt folk, even if you’re coming from a small-ish place like Victoria, there’s tons of opportunity out there so don’t feel limited on what you think you can achieve.”