Known as ‘Little Kiran’, Kenyan-born Kiran Shah is the world’s shortest stunt man currently working. He has performed stunts for numerous blockbusters including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Titanic, Braveheart, Indiana Jones and Superman I & II. His acting career has been almost as prolific, including roles in The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the upcoming Star Wars film.
At the age of 17, Kiran got his first shot at acting when he answered an advertisement in the back of Time Out for Red Budha Theatre. Taking a main part as a mime, he travelled with the company around Italy for three months, before returning to London and starting to take classes in mime. After he finished his schooling, he began working in experimental theatre to develop his skills in mime and movement before moving into the film industry.
Kiran’s stuntman potential was first recognized by Hollywood swordsmaster Bob Anderson while working on the Jodie Foster and David Niven film Candleshoe. Kiran was the stand-in for a child actor when Anderson suggested that he also act as her stunt double. This launched a career which has seen him work with acclaimed stunts coordinators Vic Armstrong, Paul Weston and Dinny Powell in films including Aliens, The Golden Compass, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.
Kiran’s acting career took off around the same time when he was cast in The People that Time Forgot after he was spotted at Pinewood Studios by director John Dark. Since then he has played characters such as evil henchman Blunder in Ridley Scott’s Legend – for which he did his own stunts – and Abu in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He trained in the whip and the heavy axe to take the role of Ginarrbrik, the White Witch’s sleigh driver, in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Although he missed out on the part of R2D2 when Kenny Baker decided to reprise the role, he later played an ewok in Return of the Jedi. He is returning to the Star Wars franchise in the eagerly awaited The Force Awakens as Teedo, a scavenger on the planet Jakku.
His greatest achievement to date has been his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although initially hired to be the scale double for Frodo, he ended up doing scale work for all four hobbits in the fellowship, alongside being a scale double for many residents of the Shire. As well as being able to copy the mannerisms of all four actors playing the hobbits, he did all their scale stunts which included falls, horse riding and sword fighting. In addition, he was given charge of a team of four little people to train in mask, movement and sword play for scenes when more than one hobbit appeared on screen.
He returned to New Zealand in 2011 to be the scale double for Martin Freeman as Bilbo in all three of The Hobbit films, in addition to performing stunts for various children. He also took the part of Scribe the goblin in the first film.
In 2009 Kiran appeared in his first Bollywood film, fulfilling an ambition he had since he was a young boy living in India. He played a younger version Amitabh Bachchan’s character Auro in Paa, alongside Vidya Balan as Auro’s mother.
Alongside his film credits, he has had a television career stretching over more than 35 years, appearing in hit TV shows including Dr Who, Casualty, Emmerdale and Shameless. He has also starred in commercials for companies including Easyjet, Vodafone and Asda. Kiran has appeared in music videos for artists such Spandau Ballet, Fatboy Slim and Mark Ronson featuring Lilly Allen. He has also worked behind the camera, directing the comedy Weekend Lovers in 2006. In addition to being the world’s current shortest stuntman at 4’1.7” (1m 26.3cm), since May 2010 Kiran has held the Guinness World Record for smallest wing-walker, facing speeds of 120mph at 1000ft.
In 2013 Kiran was asked to go to Nairobi, Kenya to support and help launch the Kenyan Association of People with Dwarfism. Forty years after leaving Nairobi he returned, giving television, radio and newspaper interviews to fight the cause of little people. He was a key note speaker and was part of the launch of the Association at Kenyatta Conference centre. He continues to help and support this cause.
Since 2014 Kiran has been a spokesperson for The Disability Network, which is based in Canada. The Disability Network has a mandate to educate the wider community about people with disabilities, as well as supporting, promoting and informing those with disabilities by providing an online information hub.
Ever since Kiran’s family moved to India when he was 11, Kiran has been inspired to write poetry. The differences in lifestyle and culture in India together with the poverty prompted him to write poems about the world around him. He continues to write poetry to this day. As well as being published in many anthologies in the UK and USA since 1996, Kiran has his own poetry book called Small Voice Large Thoughts.
To find out more about Kiran visit his website (www.littlekiran.com) or follow him on twitter @littlekiranshah