Francine Morris had always been a very athletic woman. “I loved all the gym classes at school and played any sport I could get into including tennis, volleyball, basketball and gymnastics,” she says. At age 22, Morris began learning Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. At age 27, she had a black belt and decided to be a professional, full-contact kickboxer. “I trained for about three years. My record is six wins, 4 by TKO, 1 loss by decision. Right about the time I got an offer to work for Hollywood. I decided to fight for the movies, instead.”
Morris was interviewed by Inside Karate Magazine. An agency noticed the article and appreciated her abilities and good looks, so she signed up with them. “This was in 1993, when women rarely were in martial arts classes or competed in full-contact kickboxing,” she says. Her first job was working on the set of the TV show Diagnosis Murder alongside Dick Van Dyke. Morris went on to do other stunts including falling, driving and explosions.
“It saved my life. It helped me deal with the pain.”
Morris later ended up on the hit television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “It was a dream come true. I loved working the seven years of it. As a female, it was empowering and exhilarating to fight on this show. Good female fight scenes were hard to find.” This was not the case on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, since many of the combatants are women. “Some of the world’s best martial artists graced this production. You never knew who or what to expect with this supernatural storyline packed with all types of creatures and bizarre scenarios.”
Morris worked in films like Swordfish starring John Travolta and Starship Troopers starring Michael Ironside. Her career ended suddenly when she was injured while filming a stunt for the hit television show, Family Matters. “There was a freak accident with a motorcycle. I fell over and the bike landed on my side. I finished the scene, but later I realized I was injured. It took a couple of months before I went to the doctor and it was like they handed me my coffin,” stated Morris. “The motorcycle crushed my hip and the X ray showed the femur head was black and dying. Instead of hip-replacement surgery I opted out for the electro-magnetic bone growth stimulator tests being done at that time.” Morris took a break from all physical activities at this time but the fact that she would never work or properly walk again was apparent.
For months Morris denied the inevitable and kept working through the injury, until one day she could barely walk because of the crippling agony. Her career as a stuntwoman was over too early; she became depressed and turned to cannabis for both the pain and to salve her own mental desolation.
“The herb helped me to think better. I realized what I was supposed to do. Now I can work again.”
“I felt as if I had no purpose and had nothing else to lose. I didn’t want to live if I could not be active again,” she says. After enduring the brutal surgery, Morris smoked cannabis even though family and friends accused her of being a drug addict. “It saved my life. It helped me deal with the pain.” As time went on, her agony alleviated and she was able to walk again. Just in case she was fooling herself, Morris visited a doctor to find out what was going on. Six months later, doctors told her the hip seemed normal. “They couldn’t find any obvious replacement damage.”
Morris found that cannabis also allowed her to see a new future for herself in Hollywood, after her stunt career ended prematurely. As her pain lessened with the use of cannabis, the young woman realized she still had a future. “The herb helped me to think better. I realized what I was supposed to do. Now I can work again.”
Since her mobility has returned, Morris has devoted her considerable energies to founding her own production company, Reel Entertainment Dimension, and has authored a book adapted from a script she wrote about her experiences entitled Adrenaline’s Edge. A veteran to the industry, she believes that it is time to apply her own style to Hollywood productions. “I have plenty of connections and plenty of film scripts. When I go to the movies now, they just aren’t that great. It seems to be the same thing, over and over again. I know audiences will enjoy my perspective.”