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Name: Eli Martyr
Occupation: Actor/Parkour Artist
Life is a stretch and a tumble for Eli Martyr, who gets paid to climb walls like Spiderman and cartwheel through malls like a windmill blown off its tower.
Martyr is an actor and stuntman with a forté in parkour, an acrobatic-like art form that requires the body to overcome anything in its pathway — branches, rocks, rails and walls, you name it, he’ll clear it.
“Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been the type to climb trees, pretend I was a superhero and generally jump around a lot. Spiderman was my favourite. Climbing things made me feel like him and that predisposition has stuck with me through life,” explains Martyr, who picked up parkour a year and a half ago.
“A lot of the time people will ask me if I have a permit to do what I’m doing,” Martyr adds referring to filming his demo reel, which sees him scaling houses, tumbling across lawns, leaping across fences and whipping nunchaks (recall Bruce Lee’s double sticks) whilst splayed-legged at 180 degrees across two chairs. Ouch!
The 23-year-old, who stands slightly above six feet (1.8 m) and weighs in at a muscular, but defined 81 kg, drew inspiration for his craft after seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme in the movies. At age 12, Martyr embarked on gymnastics classes. Taekwando, karate and Muay Thai training followed throughout the years, as did a regimen of weight lifting, jogging and stretching.
Currently a student at York University, Martyr is gunning to combine all his talents into one. Think Jackie Chan: One-third actor, one-third martial artist, and one-third comedian.
“People have found many of my mannerisms and lingo funny, and I try to implement them into comedic roles that I have done. The dream, of course, is to be spin-kicking people in the jugular and then running away from bullets by flying off a building,” says Martyr.
Who knows, Martyr might well be Canada’s answer to Chan, Van Damme or Vin Diesel. Like Diesel, Martyr is bi-racial — part Italian and part St. Lucian. Whatever the comparison, Martyr is fixed on staying true to himself.
“What really motivates me to pursue a career in acting and stunt work is that I can’t see any other option that would make me as happy,” he confesses. “I need my life to be exciting and fun. And ever since I started training, I reached a level in my mind where acrobatics ceased to be merely a hobby, but a part of who I am and what defines me. I would feel like I’m cheating myself if I were to allow those talents to go unused.”