A long-running feature-film project by former PWC race champ/now Hollywood stuntman Larry Rippenkroeger has finally been given the green light in Hollywood. Rippenkroeger, along with producing partners Kyle Collinsworth and Greg Pellerito has gotten the go-ahead on a film dubbed Hot Water, which will begin shooting initial footage at this year’s World Finals in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

“I’ve always wanted to bring some of the fun and excitement I experienced on the IJSBA tour to the big screen,” Rippenkroeger says of the project, which I first remember being talked about as far back as the late ’80s. “We have a great script, a great director and are in the casting process with some of the top names in Hollywood.”

The movie is set to be directed by David R. Ellis, who helmed last summer’s hit The Final Destination, a film which racked up over $183 million worldwide. Principal photography will begin in early 2011, but Rippenkroeger and the production team are taking advantage of the World Finals setting this fall to capture some initial racing action, crowd scenes, and pit activity.

I’ve known Larry for a long time, and I’m really excited about the project, both for him and the PWC community in general. I’ve contacted him for more details, but in the meantime, here’s an interview I did with Larry for Boating Magazine about 18 months ago…it’s well worth reading.

JH: First things first, didn’t you used to be some kind of champion Jet Skier?

LR: Yes, once upon a time in a land far, far… actually it was the mid-eighties thru the early nineties when I had my run at the top of the sport. It’s some of my fondest memories, traveling all over the world, winning competitions, getting paid to ride Jet Skis!

JH: So how did you go from that to being a Hollywood stuntman?

LR: I had always hoped to transition into the movie business but was having a hard time making it happen. Then I caught a lucky break and got called to perform Jet Ski stunts in the movie Waterworld. I was originally schedule to be there in Hawaii for ten weeks but ended up staying on board for eight months. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to get to know dozens of the top stuntmen in Hollywood, and like most things in life, this business is all about who you know.

JH: Waterworld, huh? That wasn’t exactly a critical favorite…

LR: I enjoyed it. I know the critics panned it and called it a bomb, but the funny thing is it ended up making money. It grossed over $300 million worldwide but you never hear the critics mention that. It was easily the best movie making experience of my life!

JH: So how do you parlay a tailor-made stunt job on Jet Skis into a long-term stunt career?

LR: It was tough the first several years. Initially I was hired by Universal Studios to work in the Waterworld live stunt show. That was a lot of fun and basically paid the bills, but as I tried to pursue movie jobs I was constantly hit with the fact that people only saw me as a Jet Skier. I kept pushing and training, learning all the other skills needed to be a true stuntman like high falls, fire burns, stunt driving, etc. Eventually, with a lot of persistence I broke out of that mold and was able to prove myself.

JH: So where have we seen you?

LR: A few of the highlights are Titanic, X-Files movie, Matrix Reloaded, Terminator 3, and several Bruce Willis movies.

JH: Is it true you’re Bruce Willis’ stunt double?

LR: I have been fortunate enough to double Bruce for the last five years or so.

JH: Any close calls?

LR: You could say that. I almost died on Live Free or Die Hard. It was a freak accident where I fell off a fire escape ladder three stories down to the street below. That was about a year and a half ago and I’m still not fully recovered from all the broken bones.

JH: Latest projects you’re working on?

LR: I just finished working on Fast and the Furious 4 and another big movie for 2009 called G.I. Joe. (Update: Larry has most recently doubled once again for Bruce Willis in Surrogates, as well as worked on Iron Man 2, and the upcoming films The Other Guys, A Bag of Hammers, and The Green Lantern.)

JH: I bet you can kick Bruce Willis’s ass on a jet ski…

LR: Unless it’s in a movie…cause nobody kicks Bruce Willis’ ass in a movie!