July 02, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Forget Brad Pitt: The man Angelina Jolie relies on the most when she’s making a movie is her longtime stunt coordinator, Simon Crane. ”She calls me Dr. Crane because I often come in and fix things,” says the veteran action maestro, who has partnered with Jolie on five features, including Salt (out July 23), in which she plays a CIA agent accused of being a spy. Crane and Jolie first met on 2001’s Tomb Raider, and since then he’s been her go-to guy when it comes to throwing herself off moving cars or scaling buildings. ”We got on extremely well from the start,” says Crane. ”By the second Tomb Raider, we were friends.”

That comfort level has provided Crane with quite a bit of freedom when he’s designing complicated stunt sequences for Jolie to perform. ”She trusts me to get it organized,” he says, ”so she can come in, do what’s been rehearsed, and act her little heart out.”

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