McKay Stewart is making his mark on the Marvel cinematic universe in an upcoming episode of ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Stewart, 43, is a former Enumclaw and Bonney Lake resident, having enjoyed a good portion of his childhood at Kibler Elementary, J.J. Smith Elementary, and Lakeridge Middle School before completing high school at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma.
As a kid, Stewart said his life pretty much revolved around whatever local entertainment he could get at the time.
“I didn’t have much of a concept of the outside world. I grew up without television — my mom felt that T.V. was not the most healthy think for children,” he said. “It wasn’t until I saw the movie “The Goonies” did I decide I wanted to become an actor…. it just looked like they were having a good time, and I thought, they get paid to do this? That looks like the best job you could ever have.”
As a kid, Stewart was very active. If he wasn’t playing soccer somewhere, he was watching Janet Jackson, M.C. Hammer and Bobby Brown music videos at his friend’s place and copying their dance moves.
“I ended up purchasing a VHS of Bobby Brown’s ‘My Prerogative’ and watched it over and over again,” he said. “I still have it.”
This all led to a successful high school theater run and may be why, when he turned 18 and his sister took him to his first-ever dance club, his career took a sudden turn.
“I was having a ball dancing and I was approached by these two girls who asked me if I wanted to dance for their group, and they were going to release a new album and asked if I wanted to dance for them,” Stewart said. “And I was like, ‘Are you kidding? Yeah!”
This was at the end of high school, so instead of vacationing with his at-the-time girlfriend in Hawaii, Stewart started driving to Oregon City, Oregon, to take professional dance classes.
His dancing career led him to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, in 1994, where he danced in commercials and large musical theatre productions for close to seven years.
“That was how I got into show businesses,” Stewart said. “I hadn’t booked any jobs in Hollywood, but I was working a lot doing musical theater.”
But after such a long run of good luck, disaster was sure to strike — Stewart injured himself, and his agent dropped him.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m going to do something else for now.’ I stopped dancing and I started training when I healed, and I trained at this gymnastics gym when I can into a bunch of stunt guys,” Stewart recalled. “I was like, ‘I can do what they guys are doing. I want to do stunts.’ So I got some referrals and I started pursuing stunts.”
His stunt career started taking off after he participated in an amateur Thai boxing fight in 2000. Stewart invited a writer friend of his from high school to the fight. That friend invited another writer friend, and he was impressed enough with Stewart that he offered him a role in the pilot episode of the upcoming series, “Vegas Dick.”
That series never took off, but that was Stewart’s first union principal job.
Since then, Stewart had stunt and actor roles in close to 70 television shows and movies, including “Desperate Housewives,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Million Dollar Baby,” CSI: Miami,” and, of course, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
One of his favorite stunt roles was in “Eagle Eye,” starring Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan, where he was the F-16 pilot that gets ejected from his plane when a drone shot him down.
“I was sitting in a real F-16 cockpit and fuselage working with the director one-on-one for the better part of three hours,” he said. “That was incredible.”
For the stunt, Stewart said a large crane pulled him up super fast out of the cockpit to simulate him ejecting from the plane.
Curiously, this will be Stewart’s second role on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “which is incredible, because they don’t typically rehire actors in different roles in series like this,” He said. “The last role I played was a scientist, and I was in a hazmat suit, so it’s hard to see my face, which is probably why they made an exception.”
Stewart also thanked Sara Finn and her casting company for considering him for a second role on the show.
In the upcoming episode of the series (“The Last Day”), which airs Friday, Jan. 19, Stewart will be playing Roughneck.
“Roughneck is definitely a stronger role, and I look forward to having something that shows a little more of my acting chops,” he said. “All I can say is that I have a scene with Ming-Na and Clark Gregg, and there is some action. Those are the only hints I can drop.”
Ming-Na Wen and Clark Gregg are the stars of the show — Wen plays Melinda May (and is also famous for voicing Fa Mulan in Disney’s “Mulan”) and Gregg plays Phil Coulson.
Stewart is hoping this role is a sign of things to come.
“Hopefully this year — and it’s already kind of shifted because I’m older now, and I’m in a different age bracket and I’m getting more auditions as an actor without having to do stunts — hopefully this is the year I start working a lot more as an actor than as an actor-stuntman,” he said.
Stewart added that while he likes his dramatic roles, he’s also hoping this opens the door to “half-hours,” slang for comedies and sitcoms.
To learn more about Stewart, you can check out his Twitter at twitter.com/mckaystewart, his Instagram at instagram.com/mckaystewart/, and his official website at mckaystewart.com/. You can check out his entire credit list on IMDB at imdb.com/name/nm1229683/.