Tony Hawk Got Canned as David Spade’s Stunt Double

Tony Hawk Got Canned as David Spade’s Stunt Double

What’s the only thing more humiliating than Tony Hawk getting hired as David Spade’s stunt double? That would be getting fired as David Spade’s stunt double. And the only thing more humiliating than that? How about getting fired as David Spade’s stunt double on Police Academy 4? (For the record, Spade claims Police Academy 4 is “the good one.”) 

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Landing a role as a punk-ass skater kid in the fourth Police Academy movie (there were eight, somehow) was a coup for 21-year-old Spade, he confessed on the Fly on the Wall podcast. Spade was new in town, just starting sets at The Improv when he was asked to read for the role. (Rumor had it that he knew his way around a skateboard.) Lucky for Spade, the script wasn’t ready so they asked “the smart-ass kid” to improvise a few lines. “I just started making up stuff and it was so lucky,” says Spade. “I wasn’t a good actor.”

Spade was cast as one of the leaders of a misfit skater gang alongside Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Brian Backer. One of the “actors” Spade beat out for the part? Unknown Tony Hawk and other members of the legendary skate team Bones Brigade. “We all read for that part,” Hawk says on the podcast but the Police Academy producers weren’t impressed. “They're like, ‘you guys are not actors but we'll consider you in the gang.’” 

Hawk was tabbed as Spade’s stunt double, partially because they both skated goofy (skater-speak for skating with the right foot forward on the board). But while the feet matched, the rest of the body did not — the still-young Hawk went through a growth spurt after casting, making the 6’3” skater an unlikely doppelganger for the 5’7” Spade. Crew members told Hawk to crouch down and stay low, but the difference eventually became too obvious to overlook. “I was trying,” said Hawk, “and then they quietly sent me home. Basically, I got fired.”

Chris Miller, the replacement stunt double, looked more like Spade but didn’t skate goofy, making the skate sequences an entirely different kind of goofy. “He’s regular footed,” says Hawk, “so in the skate sequences, (Spade’s) stance keeps changing.”

Despite pro skaters filling in for Spade during the more challenging sequences, Hawk compliments the comic on his prowess. “I could skate,” brags Spade before sharing a story that suggests otherwise. 

Spade and his fellow actors were filming a scene where the renegade gang trick-rides their way through city streets and parking ramps miraculously devoid of cars. The director asked the semi-proficient Spade if he could jump down a set of steps. “What is it, five steps?” asked Spade. “I can do five steps.”

Well, Spade guesstimated, maybe he could manage it seven times out of ten. But with the cast and crew watching and the cameras rolling? The pressure turned out to be too much. As leader of the group, Spade was at the head of the line speeding toward the steps “and I fucking wipe out and everyone has to wipe out on top of me” since the other skaters were only two feet behind. Luckily, Hawk had yet to be fired at this point in the filming, giving the director an alternative to Spade’s board bumbling: “Just have Tony do it.”

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