In 2014, Jacob Tomuri got a phone call — English actor Tom Hardy needed a stunt double, and Tomuri was a contender for the job. Within 24 hours he was on a plane to Namibia, embarking on a global career.
While growing up in Porirua, Tomuri began appearing on ads for Shrewsbury biscuits and Macleans toothpaste. He also developed a keen interested in martial arts.
Later he graduated from Wellington's NZ School for Performing Arts and got a job as an extra in The Lord of The Rings. After a stunt co-ordinator witnessed Tomuri and fellow acting graduates improvising “grabbing rocks and dragging each other by our hair” during scenes, he auditioned them to join the stunt team. Tomuri went on to work on the Rings trilogy for 18 months. In the same period he got a main cast role as Lieutenant Luke on sci-fi hit The Tribe, and got a small part in road movie Snakeskin as a hitchhiker named Robbie.
His next main role came in the form of Kiwi drama stalwart Shortland Street. For three years from 2003 he played the role of bar owner Norman Hanson, until the character died in a car accident while suffering a terminal brain tumour. Said Tomuri of the show “you don’t often get to act every day for years and go through a vast range of storylines and character development. I learnt a lot from that whole experience.” After leaving Shortland Street he began furthering his skills on the stunt teams for movies Avatar and The Lovely Bones.
It was while stunting on Spartacus: War of the Damned that Tomuri learned that Kiwi stuntie Dayna Grant was heading to Namibia to stunt double for Charlize Theron on the acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road. “"I said, who is playing Max? She said Tom Hardy… I pulled up a photo and at that point the others around me said, 'Hey, that looks like you, you could double him'.” That seemed to be the end of it, until the stunt woman got to Namibia and discovered the producers were struggling to find Hardy a stunt double. She dropped Tomuri’s name, and he was on a plane within 24 hours.
Tomuri befriended Hardy over the extended, stunt-heavy shoot, while working through a knee injury which had him on painkillers for much of it. He went on to double for Hardy on Oscar winner The Revenant, crime movie Legend and superhero film Venom.
Legend had Hardy playing both main characters, real-life twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray. In order to have both twins shown in the same shot, Tomuri would often be playing one of the brothers — an experience that took Tomuri "well and truly out of my comfort zone.” When paparazzi photographed him in costume, the photo appeared in English tabloid The Mirror with the headline 'First look at Tom Hardy on set playing BOTH Kray twins in gangster biopic'.
Despite the globetrotting success of his stunt work, Tomuri hasn’t given up acting yet. In 2014 he appeared in Step Dave and Christchurch-set feature Sunday. He went on to co-star in Roseanne Liang’s action-laden short film Do No Harm, which won awards and acclaim after premiering at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Profile written by Simon Smith
Updated on 15 August 2018
Dan Ahwa, 'Why Jacob Tomuri is More Than Just a Tom Hardy Look-Alike' (Interview) - Viva website. Loaded 2 September 2015. Accessed 7 March 2017
Tommy Livingston, 'Porirua to Hollywood: Jacob Tomuri hits big time as Tom Hardy's stunt double' (Interview) Stuff website. Loaded 2 March 2016. Accessed 7 March 2017
Veronica Schmidt, 'Jacob Tomuri: Double Take' (Interview) - The NZ Herald, 14 September 2014
Danny Walker, 'Legend: First look at Tom Hardy on set playing BOTH Kray twins in gangster biopic' - The Mirror, 12 June 2014