Lindsay Lohan’s ‘Falling for Christmas’ Stunt Double Is a Pro Skier
When professional skier Rian Zetzer got the opportunity to stunt-double for Lindsay Lohan in a new Netflix movie, she jumped at the opportunity
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
The Parent Trap handshake. The guitar solo in Freaky Friday. Every scene of Mean Girls. For a certain generation, Lindsay Lohan’s acting is peerless, and Lohan is an enduring figure in the pop culture zeitgeist. The “on October 3rd, he asked me what day it was” meme (which is based on a Mean Girls scene for the uninformed) was still circulating online on the date in question of this year, 18 years after the film came out.
If Lohan’s films have stood the test of time, her own path has been much rockier. But after a fall from grace that was mercilessly documented in the tabloids, and a long stint out of the public eye, Lohan is once again making movies. Her new Netflix rom com, Falling for Christmas, was released on Thursday.
To be honest, we’d watch Falling for Christmas for the nostalgia alone. But as an extra cherry on top, the movie has skiing scenes. I watched the film and enjoyed it—it’s a fun plot, and longtime Lohan fans can look forward to supernatural situations reminiscent of Freaky Friday, and “Jingle Bell Rock” makes an appearance, too. The skiing-obsessed will appreciate the accurate portrayal of backcountry hazards and the tension between a megaresort and a mom-and-pop hill that underpins the storyline.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know whether or not Lohan herself can actually shred, since all her character’s scenes sliding on snow are done by a stunt double: 25-year-old Rian Zetzer, a Salt Lake City-based former competitive mogul skier and sponsored freeskier.
Zetzer got the gig when a producer for the film looking for an approximately 5’4” mogul skier contacted her former coach. “They basically just asked me, “Are you competent at mogul skiing, skiing switch, and rolling around?” said Zetzer.
Lohan’s character is a novice skier, and Zetzer only filmed a couple of scenes. In one, she ricochets through a mogul field, barely staying on her feet, before collapsing into the arms of her love interest. In the second, she slides backwards off the crest of a hill (the long fall leaves her with amnesia, setting off a cascade of cheesy, charming events you’d expect from a rom-com). In real life, Zetzer is a former mogul skier—she competed in the U.S. Freestyle National Championships—who started making a name for herself in the freeskiing world with videos of herself hucking backflips off of cliffs. Stunt work, especially for Lindsay Lohan, “just sounded like too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Zetzer.
So we called her up to talk about her time on set, stunt doubling, and Lindsay Lohan.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
OUTSIDE: OK, first things first—did you get the chance to meet Lindsay Lohan?
RIAN ZETZER: We were both on set at the same time, but I didn’t actually say anything to her. I didn’t want to be the annoying double who was like, “oh my god, I’m your biggest fan.” But it was cool to see her doing her thing and acting up close. It was funny, too, because one of the outfits I had to wear was this ridiculous hot pink head-to-toe skin-tight outfit with a big fluffy pink hat. So I didn’t talk to her, but I stood like five feet away from her in the exact same outfit just thinking like, this is cool.
That’s quite a look.
I wish I could have kept the outfit more than anything, it was so iconic.
Obviously we all know her, but how much of a Lindsay Lohan fan would you say you were going in?
Oh my gosh, her early movies are some of my favorites. Like, I could probably recite every word of Freaky Friday. She’s awesome, I’m a big Lindsay fan.
The movie’s plot revolves around Lohan’s character being bad at skiing. Was it hard to pretend to ski poorly?
It went against my instincts, because mogul skiing is super precise, and the acting involved purposefully flailing and falling. But for all the scenes I was on a pair of little rental skis, the same kind Lindsay’s wearing [in the movie]. And the DIN was on, like, two. Which was helpful with making it look like I could just fall out of the skis at any moment, which is about what they wanted.
Do you know if Lohan is able to ski?
I don’t know if she does, I never saw her actually make any turns. I know it’s a big liability thing for them, and it’s so expensive to pay her for anything but the talking and acting with her face. There was one scene where she’s on skis and she and the male lead were talking and then she kind of falls back a little bit. But there were like eight people a couple feet behind her, ready to catch her. So I only saw her slide a couple of feet. We didn’t get to just go freeskiing together, unfortunately.
Was there anyone else on set you were excited to meet?
Well, Chord Overstreet is the male lead. He used to be a character on Glee, and I loved Glee when I was younger. It was pretty exciting to see him, and funny to see him in ski gear.
And it was fun to see Tom Wallisch, who was the stunt double for the male lead. He and I ski for the same ski company, so I know him and have skied with him. But I didn’t know he’d be there until I showed up. He’s a professional skier who’s done X Games and is very accomplished, but he was dressed up in this outfit that made him look like a very beginner skier. And he’s just ripping around the mountain. It was pretty comical.
You don’t look much like Lohan.
Yeah, they had another double for her who did all of the other random stuff like running, jumping, cooking, whatever—scenes without her face. And then I did the skiing. But there was one moment when a couple of guys out skiing on the mountain mistook me for Lindsay Lohan. And I took a picture with them in costume, and I don’t think they ever realized that I wasn’t actually her. So these guys have this picture with me, thinking I’m Lindsay Lohan. They came up and they’re like, “is that Lindsay?” And I was just like, “I guess?” And they’re like, “Can we take a photo with you?” It felt too late to back out so I was just like, “Sure.”
What was it like skiing for a broader, non-skiing audience?
It’s funny to me how people’s perception of skiing is so different outside of the ski industry. I remember our very first take, I was supposed to flail down this field of moguls and then fall into Tom [Wallisch]. And I felt like I did it horribly, like it was way too slow and looked really fake and staged. And then as soon as we cut everyone was clapping. They were so excited. I thought it was so comical, because my perspective from within the ski industry has made me way harder on myself.
Any moments on set that have stuck with you?
I filmed for two days and the second day was the last day of filming and they wrapped right after our scene. So all the main actors got up then and did a little speech, thanking everyone for being here. And Lindsay started crying, and saying how she was so grateful for this experience and thanking everyone for their hard work. It was really heartfelt and sweet. I think a goal of this movie is to make a wholesome comeback. I hope that’s successful for her, she seemed very kind and down to earth, which I thought was cool, because you never know with big celebrities like that.