Stunt driver Susan Purkhiser spends her days stunt driving in movies and television shows. She was the stunt double for Charlize Theron in the film The Italian Job (2003) where she can be seen driving a Mini Cooper down a flight of stairs and flying out of a sewer tunnel.
Purkhiser is mostly self-taught as she spent her teen years racing around Seattle. When she arrived in Los Angeles in 1996 and took a class at the Bobby Ore Stunt Driving School, she was so good that she was asked to become an instructor.
Susan stunt driving career really began in high schools when she took a fast and furious ride in a guy’s Camaro and fell in love with the car and driving. She bought her first Baby Blue 1967 Camaro for a thousand dollars after her Dad got her a job with a mechanic friend in an auto shop. The mechanic took her under his wing and helped her buy and work on the Camaro. This was the beginning of her driving career.
Susan worked in the shop to convert the the Camaro from a three-on-the-tree automatic to a Hurst four-speed manual shifter. She painted the car black, added a hood scoop and small wing and took off. She also shaved the door handles and put in solenoids under the door jam so she could kick and the door would open. They completely rebuilt a 327 Corvette engine, with a 12-bolt positraction rear end, and big, huge Mickey Thompson wheels and tires. She was ready to slide and do donuts. She drove and raced this car for years from the age of 14 to 18 without even having a drivers license.
Susan Purkhiser has won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, one in 2010 for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture for Star Trek (2009), and one in 2007 for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture for The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).