Brow Beat

Hustlers “Naked Guy” on Being the Go-To Guy for Nude Stunt Work

Plus: what it was like to see the movie with his mom.

Rob Stats, naked, in a scene from the movie.
Rob Stats plays “Stunt Performer: Naked Guy” in Hustlers.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by STX Entertainment.

If you’ve seen Hustlers, you know it’s the most show-stopping scene that doesn’t involve Jennifer Lopez and fur: Destiny (Constance Wu) walks in on Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) agog after one of the strippers’ marks, high from their special-recipe MDMA-ketamine cocktail, attempts to jump from the roof of his mansion to the pool. He doesn’t quite make it, and we first meet him face down, totally naked. The ladies hoist the ailing man into an SUV to take him to the hospital (providing the film’s only full-frontal nudity, as audibly noted by my audience). Once in the car, he starts to rouse, before Mercedes reflexively punches him, knocking him out again.

I later learned this particular role was credited as “Stunt Performer: Naked Guy.” But who is Stunt Performer: Naked Guy? His name is Rob Stats, and he is the man you call when you need nude stunt work (or “hyperexposed work,” in his favored parlance). I called him Friday to learn more about how he got into this particular business, how he feels about being the only fully nude actor in a film about strippers, and seeing the movie with his mom. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Jeffrey Bloomer: What was the casting call for this role exactly?

Rob Stats: I got contacted by our stunt coordinator, Ian Mclaughlin. I was working on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with him a few weeks earlier, and he randomly on an off day texted me this interesting message, which was like, “Hey, I hear you’re the guy to go to for naked stunt work.” And I kind of laughed. I was like, “Yeah.” Another stunt coordinator, Pete Bucossi, who I had worked with on The Sinner, I had to do a naked stunt double job for him a few years ago. And he’s like, “Yeah, I need somebody for Hustlers, and here’s the gag. You know, the girls will be carrying you, and you’re like, knocked-out unconscious, you’ll be naked.” I’m like, “All right, cool.”

How did you create this cottage industry for yourself?

Back in 2012, I first did what we consider “hyperexposed work,” or nudity work, for The Wolf of Wall Street. And from there I did the wild bachelor party plane scene, and the penthouse, like, sex party scene. And then about a year later, I had somebody reach out to me. I think there was like someone had posted or sent out an email looking for a nude stunt double or body double for Burn Gorman on the show Turn: Washington’s Spies down in Virginia. And I got that, and it’s kind of become the running joke—it was like, “You should just buy the domain name ‘the naked stunt man dot-com.’ ”

And why is it that you are the naked stunt guy?

I’m pretty open, and pretty free spirited. I was a live art model for a couple of years in college and stuff like that. So I’m very comfortable being naked in a room full of people, or complete strangers.

I read there were “comfort consultants” on set for the stripping scenes. Did you get one too? 

Ian was our stunt coordinator, so he served as that. For me personally, as long as I have somebody, whether it’s an intimacy coordinator or a stunt coordinator there, I’m cool, because I know I have that person watching my back and everything’s going to be fine. But I’ve done other projects where we have an intimacy coordinator, other stuff where there’s been like a “comfort companion,” as they call it. So as long as everybody’s cool with it, and there’s people watching out for us, I’m good with it.

It’s also in our industry, it’s having the right people to do it. I’ve been fortunate since I started doing it back in 2012 that I’ve always had good either intimacy coordinators or stunt coordinators on set with me to make sure everything’s on the up and up, that everyone’s respectful and everything’s done in a professional manner. And a lot of people shy away from it for that reason. With obviously the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up, the way that’s kind of blown up in the last couple of years, that’s always a concern for a lot of other performers that things aren’t going to go according to plan, or if someone’s going to get disrespected or something bad is going to happen.

How did you prepare for this particular role? Is it hard to play drugged, for art?

No, actually, the hard part for me was when Ian talked to me about the gig, he asked me, “How much do you weigh?” And I was like, “I’m like a buck 50 right now.” I was doubling for Giovanni Ribisi on the Amazon series Sneaky Pete for a couple of years. And usually I’m about 148, 150. I was like, “I can get down to like 146.” And he’s like, “Yeah, the girls, like Constance [Wu] and Keke [Palmer] obviously aren’t big people.” He’s like, “Try to get as light as you can for this, that way they just don’t have to pick up as much weight.” So I had put myself on a pretty strict diet for about three weeks to try and lean out as much as I could.

Did [Hustlers director] Lorene Scafaria give you any specific direction on how to look drunk?

We shot it, and Lorene came over. She was like, just keep doing it. Lorene and Colin MacLellan, our first AD, they were like, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s perfect.” I’m like, “OK.” I’ve played a dead guy before in a couple of shows, like on Blue Bloods, and stuff like that. So I was like, OK, I’ve been here before. I kind of know how to play the dead thing.

When the girls are picking me up too, I was trying to look dead and limp, but also trying to kind of help them out as much as I could as well. So I would try to kind of pike myself, like either hold myself up on one side more than the other to help them out, because Constance was in four-inch-heel knee-high boots and I’m like, “OK, please don’t fall down the stairs.” I was worried more about the girls than I was about myself. I think at one point I told them, “If you have to drop me, just drop me. I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s concrete, marble steps, just drop me. As long as you guys don’t get hurt, you’re more important than me right now. You guys have a whole another half of the movie to shoot. This is it for me.”

How did your first conversations with Constance and Keke go down? Are you guys friends now?

They were great. We met in the hair and makeup trailer when we were going over prepping and Keke Palmer has just amazing energy all the time and she was like—we walked in, she’ll just strike up a conversation with anybody and she’ll make sure everyone is a part of it. It was myself, Keke, Constance, and Lili Reinhart. So Lili was talking about Riverdale. Constance was talking about Fresh Off the Boat, and so everybody kind of just clicked right away. And I think that’s why it translated very well on screen too when the scenes came out.

How many takes did you have to do?

We shot all the scenes over the course of two days, and we really didn’t have to do a lot of takes, fortunately. I think when Keke knocks me out in the backseat of the car, I think that was probably what we did the most of because we just shot it from different angles. We had shot from the front, over my shoulder, over her shoulder at one point. But for the most part, I don’t think we did more than like maybe three or four takes from each angle.

Did you know when you were filming the scene that you would be the only actually naked person in a movie about strippers?

No, I didn’t. Which my friends and family have been breaking my chops about. One of my buddies from high school and college just texted me yesterday. He’s like, “This movie is filled with all these hot, beautiful women, and you’re the only naked person in it.” I was like, “Yeah.” I was like, “Sorry, bro. I don’t know what to tell ya.”

Have you watched it with an audience yet?

I went to see it Friday. Actually I saw it twice opening weekend, because my mom wanted to see the movie.

Oh no.

So I was like, “OK. I’ll go with you on Saturday.” And I didn’t tell her. I snuck out Friday to go see it, just to see how much of me was naked and what the movie was like. So after I saw it Friday afternoon, matinee, and there were a decent amount of people in the audience, and I was like, “OK, it got a really good reaction.” And then I went with her on Saturday to see it, and it was a packed audience, and the laughter was so loud that my seat was actually shaking. Like when Lili throws up at the end, like the whole audience just burst into laughter and for a second I’m like, “Am I in L.A.? Is this an earthquake?” Like the whole chair was literally shaking. I was like, “Oh, this is great. This is a really good part of the movie.”

That’s amazing. How did … your mom react?

She was laughing. I think she actually had tears coming out of her eyes she was laughing so hard.

Are your family or friends just used to this now since this is your thing?

Yeah, pretty much. A lot of my friends in the industry always joke around. They’re like, “Hey, we saw a post for a naked guy. Just wanted to let you know.” And I’m like, “Yeah.” So I gave everybody a fair warning about this once I saw the movie on Friday, Saturday. I posted on all my social media. I’m like, “Just so you guys know, I am very naked in this movie,” I said, “so be warned.” And actually one of my cousins saw an advanced screening back in July, I think, June or July. It was, like, a test screening. And she had told me, she’s like, “Yeah, you’re very naked in it.”

Are you afraid of being even more typecast as like “Stunt Performer: Naked Guy”?

No, not at all. I also do stand-up comedy, and a year or two after I did Wolf of Wall Street, I was doing a charity show somewhere, and one of the producers from the movie was there. And he’s like, “You’re the guy. You were in this movie.” And he was joking,  “Keep your clothes on, you’ll make more money.” And ever since then, I’m like, “No, I feel like I’m making more money when I’m naked.” But I don’t mind. Hopefully I can get away from it as much as I can, because it’s demanding, trying to stay in shape constantly. I’m going to Montreal tomorrow for a trip, and my friends are like, “We got to go get poutine.” And I’m like, “Oh great. That’s going to be like another five hours of cardio for me next week.”

Did you have any idea how big the movie was going to be?

No. I was surprised at how quick the turnaround was, and I knew we had a very popular cast. I was really happy that it did as well as it did. My motivation going into it was just, when I read the sides on the day, the first time I read it I kept thinking, I’m like, “Oh, I’m like the tiger in The Hangover.” That’s all I kept thinking about, was me popping up like the tiger. I was like, “OK, this will be pretty funny.”