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Charlize Theron is an undercover secret agent in the action film ‘Atomic Blonde.’
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Kick. Thud, thud, thud. Ouch. Tackle. Thud, thud, thud. Ouch!

Watching Charlize Theron‘s MI6 spy Lorraine Broughton knock foes and fall hard down marble stairs in Atomic Blonde is an electrifying, and painful, experience.

The stairwell clobbering is the highlight of a marathon action sequence in the new thriller (in theaters now), featuring Broughton trying to get her intelligence asset (Eddie Marsan) out of East Berlin safely.

First she has to fight their way out of an apartment building with those marble stairs, which leads to one thug being kicked down a flight and Broughton taking a hard tumble herself.

(WARNING: This scene includes graphic violence.) 

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This ‘Atomic Blonde’ movie clip featuring Charlize Theron is awesome, but contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.
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“Everyone needed to be on their game to make all of this happen,” says director David Leitch, who has extensive experience as a stunt coordinator and as Brad Pitt’s former stunt double. “Stunt men for generations have fallen down stairs, myself included. There is a technique.”

Daniel Bernhardt, who plays the thuggish soldier, did several variations of that my-God-he-broke-his-neck backward fall. The stuntman was protected by stair padding painted to look like marble.

“We made padded sections of the stairs where we knew people were going to be in dangerous situations,” says Leitch. “There’s a lot of big movie tricks that I have been doing for years in my stunt life that we incorporated to make you believe heads are hitting marble.”

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Despite the big fall, Bernhardt didn’t injure himself beyond bumps and bruises. “For as violent as it looks, we took all the safety precautions,” Leitch says.

Being the irreplaceable star of the movie, Theron battled her own dings (including cracked teeth that required dental work). But she didn’t take the stair tumble. That was left to her stunt double, Monique Ganderton.

Theron did perform the moments where a wincing, falling Broughton is slammed into the wall at the bottom of the stairs. This wall too was foam-padded and painted.

“Even with that, on take 12 and you’re slamming yourself into that…