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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Despite pain, 'Indy' stuntman finds gain

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Nito Larioza, left, shown with fellow Ugha Warrior Roberto Gutierrez, said the downside of the role was that he had to shave everything.

Photos courtesy of Nito Larioza

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Larioza, in full Ugha Warrior makeup, also saw action in "Crystal Skull" as one of two Cemetery Warriors.

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Nito Larioza

Age: 37

Hometown: Waimanalo

Current credits and projects:

  • Cemetery Warrior and Ugha Warrior in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008)

  • Utility stunts for Steven Spielberg's "Tintin" (2009), an animated film based on the comic strip hero and his dog

  • Stunt coordination for "B-Girl" (2008), a film about a female breakdancer in the hip-hop underground

  • Stunts for "Avatar" (2009), a sci-fi film by James Cameron with Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez

  • A Pepsi commercial (2008)

  • "Hancock" (2008), the Peter Berg drama with Will Smith and Charlize Theron.

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    Nito Larioza, veteran Hollywood stuntman and actor, has two roles in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." He also has a lasting souvenir.

    "It's a scar on my neck, when Indy (mistakenly) hit me with his whip," said Larioza, by phone from Los Angeles. "I had a knife in hand, and Harrison Ford was to cap it. He tried a couple of times, but he hurt me and I was bleeding.

    "But it's OK. It's a good memory. I just sucked it up, made like I'm tough." That's what stunt folks do, he said.

    Larioza, an Islander who graduated from Pearl City High School, moved from local bands (remember The New Generation?) to a California-based career that includes stunts, dance and choreography, in films, television and commercials.

    In the latest Indy installment, he plays one of two Cemetery Warriors (the other is localite Ernie Reyes Jr.) and one of the numerous Ugha Warriors in a fight scene filmed during a 30-day stint on the film's Los Angeles set. (Larioza wasn't part of the action on the Big Island, where "Indy" did location shooting.)

    Though they were bad guys, collectible action figures were made from the characters, he noted proudly.

    Larioza was particularly pleased with one-on-one fights he and Reyes staged as the Cemetery Warriors. "It was cool; a cemetery, where you see shadows, and feel like there are spirits following you; we 'fought' with Shia LaBeouf (Mutt Williams) and Ford, and we worked with Steven Spielberg for two weeks," he said.

    "We got to know Shia, Harrison and Steven a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You know he (Spielberg) had a nickname on the set? The Gov."

    The Ugha provided a bit of discomfort, however.

    "I had to shave my whole body, my underarms, my legs, everything. And my head, too," Larioza said. "I kind of understand now what a woman feels ... shaving. It's high maintenance, and it wasn't fun, because I had to do this every day for two weeks."

    During the final day of filming of the Ugha Warrior sequence, Larioza needed to leave early to make a nighttime gig with the Pussycat Dolls. "I know you dance, so if you gotta go, go," the director told Larioza.

    Gary Powell, stunt coordinator for the Indy film, found Larioza had the right look for the meanies in the film.

    "He was looking for somebody of my ethnic background, skin color, and the ability to really move well. Somebody told him, 'Ask for Nito,' " he said.

    He's a mixture of Filipino, Spanish, Hawaiian and Chinese. "My skin tone suits the Mayan look for the movie," Larioza said.

    The highly physical actor has been placing his stamp on Hollywood action films. He also did animatic stunts for the recent "Transformers" film providing motion-capturing movements for the robots in the film and said that was the most painful job he ever had. "I would go home and get massages but it hurt to hit the floor, get tossed to the walls, and just flipping around," he said.

    Again, he's sucking it up: He's slated to do similar work starting this summer for "Transformers 2," a 2009 film directed by Michael Bay.

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.