Monte Rex Perlin has been a stuntman and stunt coordinator in Hollywood for more than 30 years. His resume includes blockbusters like “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Transformers,” and “Indiana Jones.” Since becoming a Christian early in his career, Perlin has also worked extensively on Christian films like “The Moment After” and the “Revelation Road” saga. He recently sat down with Pure Flix Insider to talk about faith and Hollywood.
Monte Perlin grew up in the mountains of California, the perfect spot to ride dirtbikes and motorcycles from the young age of 5 years old. After seeing bike stunts in a commercial, Perlin says he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life:
"I went down to Hollywood, this mountain boy almost afraid of the city, all the cars, I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t have a friend in the business, and it’s nearly impossible to get in, especially in those days. But one thing led to another, and I got into this stunt school, [which] opened the door for over 31 years of success in stunts."
Perlin’s stunt school connections led to his first movie, “Savage Dawn,” which was full of motorcycle stunts. Riding through bombs going off, jumping into a river, and getting jerked off the back of a bike were just some of the stunts in the film that launched Perlin’s career. He told Pure Flix Insider with a laugh, “My neck still hurts 33 years later… but that led to many more motorcycle stunts and many movies after that.”
But not all was sunshine and roses in Perlin’s early life. He started drinking at 15 when he became immersed in motocross culture. “I found myself doing some of my first stunts drunk,” he said, “You know, drinking a half bottle of scotch before jumping a motorcycle over a tank, things like that.”
The turning point for Perlin came when he started dating his wife:
[There was a] stunt coming up I was a little worried about. And she said, ‘Let’s pray about it,’ and I said, ‘What?’ She was a strong Christian and I didn’t want anything to do with that. But she was just so pretty I wanted to stick around and listen, so I did and we prayed. And the thing is, I knew how that stunt should have ended up, with a big crash. But it ended up as if someone lifted me up and carried me and set me down just gingerly like I just stepped off a curb or something. I felt angels around me like I’d never felt anything. It’s hard to explain, but it’s what made me start to believe there was something real out there.
Inspired by his wife’s faith, Perlin gave his life to Christ and quit drinking. But the miracles were just beginning. Perlin told Pure Flix Insider how God led him to stay in Hollywood:
What really clinched my belief in Christ and the miracles He does is I said to [my wife], 'Okay I’m going to have to find some kind of a career. Do I focus on stunts, or am I going to go in a different direction?' And she said let’s pray about it again.
And I said, 'I’ll challenge you: I have one last live show I’m going to do, and I said if nothing happens with that show leading me toward the stunt world, then I’ll quit forever.' She said okay, we’ll pray about it and God will show up. And I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got ‘em this time.’ Because I knew that show was going to be out in the middle of the dessert, no Hollywood people out there.
But Hollywood people were there. A producer had taken his son to see the monster trucks in the desert. “After my first show,” said Perlin, “this guy jumped the fence, ran right up to me and said, ‘Who do you work for?,’ I said I freelance, and he said ‘Not anymore, here’s my card.’ I called him that night, and we went three times around the world doing movie stunts. And that was an answer to prayer that was impossible for something to happen like that. It showed me God is everywhere and he pays attention to the smallest or biggest needs.”
Perlin shared how God didn’t just change his life, but He used Perlin’s presence in Hollywood to lead others to Him too. Perlin told Pure Flix Insider about one television series he worked on where he developed a reputation as a “Jesus Freak” early on. “I came on pretty strong because I was so in love with God and what He had done and I would just tell everyone constantly,” Perlin explained. “People would kind of make fun of me, but I did my job and God blessed me with some good, miraculous work, and kept using me. I became the number one motorcycle guy in the business.”
Perlin told one story about how God used him in the life of a fellow stuntman:
So one day I’m at lunch and no one wants to sit next to me, but this one guy. He was kind of the jokester of the set, always goofing off. And he’s smiling at me and we’re laughing, but then his smile turned to tears and he just poured his life out to me over lunch on set. And I shared Jesus with him and he accepted Him and was happier than he could ever be, it changed his life. Well a week later, I got a call that he had just gotten killed doing the “high fall”. That’s when you fall out of a building onto an air bag. He was joking around and missed the bag and it killed him.
And instantly I was mad at God and I felt like, ‘God, why did you send me there?’ and He stopped me and said, “What if I didn’t?”
Perlin concluded, “So between the ups and downs, there have been a lot of miracles that have happened, too.” He shared with Pure Flix Insider his advice to young people and audiences who enjoy his work:
When it says, ‘all things are possible through God,’ that means all things, that means you can move mountains through prayer. My first advice is to seek God first...that’s the best thing you can do in life because if you’re following Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. He created the desires of your heart to line up with how He created you to be. So you can be in no more perfect place than to line up with Him. That will give you victory and joy in your life that cannot be imagined any other way.