M3GAN Actor Amie Donald Did Her Own Creepy Stunts, Including Running On All Fours

Bringing the titular killer doll from "M3GAN" to life was a labor of love that combined puppeteering, animatronics, and a human actor in a doll mask, but it's that human performance that really takes the creation from mildly creepy to terrifying. (Read our review!) Actor Amie Donald, who was 11 years old at the time of filming, portrays the high-tech toy with a perfect mix of inhuman grace and jerky, robotic movements, and it turns out that much of M3GAN's physicality came directly from Donald, who did her own stunts and helped co-choreograph the dance sequence that has since gone viral on TikTok. 

In interviews with the Los Angeles Times detailing the work that went into creating M3GAN, director Gerard Johnstone revealed that some of the most horrifying moments from the trailer were all Donald, who used her training as a gymnast to bring a unique physicality to her inhuman character. From creepy little head-tilts that are more cat-like than child-like to her all-fours chase skills, there's an animalistic quality to M3GAN that makes her a little scarier than your average killer doll. 

Though "M3GAN" producer James Wan is no stranger to creepy puppets, blending the animatronic version of M3GAN seamlessly with shots of Donald in costume offered a road into the uncanny valley. "The idea of making M3GAN look more realistic was very exciting, because we hadn't seen anything like it," Johnstone explained. "She's got to look almost real."

'She was a jungle predator sizing up her prey'

Donald teamed up with movement coaches Jed Brophy and Luke Hawker, along with stunt coordinator Isaac "Ike" Hamon, to create the physicality of the deadly doll. She had previous gymnastics experience, which allowed her to move in ways that the average person just doesn't normally move. With the assistance of wires, she was even able to do a "cobra rise," lifting herself from the ground using only her legs like a cobra rising up to strike its prey. (The moment is in the trailer, and finding out that she did that without wires is truly impressive.) 

The young actor was also able to run on all fours, which isn't the easiest thing to do without a bit of practice, and she added a little extra flair to it that made the scene even freakier. Johnstone recalled:

"All of a sudden we get this video from her mother, where Amie had just figured out how to do this on the carpet at home. And she could run on all fours! Even more than that, she got into it through a little sideways walk which we incorporated into the movie because it was so creepy and unexpected — it was like she was a jungle predator sizing up her prey."

Creepy kids are one thing, and creepy dolls are another, but a creepy doll played by a creepy kid who also happens to move like a mix of a ballerina and a serpent? That's pure nightmare fuel. 

M3GAN's 3conomy of mov3m3nt

There are a lot of great moments in the first trailer for "M3GAN," but the one that immediately sent her popularity skyrocketing is the dance she breaks into in order to confuse Ronny Chieng's character, David, so she can move in for the kill. "Gerard wanted it to be creepy but also kind of distracting, so Ronny wouldn't know what she was doing," Donald told the LA Times. This was her favorite scene to film "because I got to do what I love most," and Donald herself put the choreography together along with her dance teacher, Kyle Norris. She shot four takes of the dance, which is accompanied by a needle drop of "Walk the Night" by Skatt Bros. The moment wasn't actually in the original script for "M3GAN" — director Gerard Johnstone has said that he "just kind of snuck" it into the movie, "to see if anyone would say anything." 

The dance isn't just there for fun — in fact, nothing M3GAN does is unmotivated. "I'm a big Bruce Lee fan and he always talked about economy of movement," Johnstone explains. "So M3GAN moves in the most economical way. She'll never move unless she needs to." This differentiated the doll from more traditionally animated puppetry, like the Muppets, whose constant flailing movements create the illusion that they're alive. 

For "M3GAN," the creative team thought that smaller movements, like a slight tilt of the head, would be creepier while still conveying a lot about the character's mood, and Donald continued those subtle movements in shots where she took over from the puppet and animatronic versions of M3GAN. Like the scariest mean girls in middle school, M3GAN can do a lot with just a look.