Riley Keough's Husband: Facts About Stuntman Ben Smith-Petersen

Riley Keough and Ben Smith-Petersen have been married for eight years. The happy couple is frequently in the spotlight due to Keough's acting career and family. Not only is Keough a successful actor, currently starring in Prime Video's "Daisy Jones & The Six," but she's the granddaughter of Elvis Presley and daughter of the recently-passed Lisa Marie Presley. With that kind of family background, it seems she was destined for fame from the beginning, but her husband comes from much simpler beginnings.

Smith-Petersen was born in Australia, where he spent most of his early life. Like his wife, he's been in high-budget Hollywood films, but you may not recognize him. Rather than taking center stage, he has a successful career as a stunt performer. Though he's often known as Keough's husband, Smith-Petersen has had an interesting life and career himself. Along with his stunt work, he's been an actor, musician, and successful circus performer. Keough has described getting to know him as an adventure, and he seems to live his life like one too, always learning and exploring new things. So we've compiled the top things you need to know about him, including his career, love life, family, and more.

The following article includes mentions of death by suicide.

He started as a circus performer

Before starting his career as a stunt performer, Ben Smith-Petersen was a circus performer and flying trapeze teacher. He first started learning flying trapeze when he was 14 and growing up in Australia. Smith-Petersen said he was instantly interested in the trapeze and wanted to learn as much as he could. "The more time I spent in there learning, I got up to a certain point where it was clear that I could perform," he said during an interview with Circus Arts Australia. But he pushed himself beyond performing to become a teacher. Explaining his mindset, he said, "I wanted to know [flying trapeze] so well that I could teach it to someone else."

He eventually became adept enough that he started teaching classes as he'd hoped. It was during one of those classes that he was first introduced to the idea of working in stunts. A stunt coordinator brought his kids to one of Smith-Petersen's flying trapeze classes, and that ended up being the first stunt coordinator Smith-Petersen worked for.

Speaking of his experience with the circus, Smith-Petersen said that although he hasn't performed in a circus show in several years, he still considers himself "a circus guy." And what he learned in the circus influenced his movement and helped him in his work as a stuntman.

Ben Smith-Petersen is a successful stunt performer

After meeting a stunt coordinator at one of his flying trapeze classes, Ben Smith-Petersen did his first stunt work in 2011 on an episode of the TV show "Wild Boys." His background in circus performance gave him a leg up in the stunt world, and he soon built up an impressive stunt resume. Some of his many credits include "The Great Gatsby," "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," "Mad Max: Fury Road," and "Triple Frontier."

During a podcast interview with Hoffman Institute, Smith-Petersen opened up about what stunt work means to him. Although he said a lot of people assume working in stunts means you're fearless, that's not been the case in his experience. "I definitely have a lot of fear," Smith-Petersen said. "I think that being a good stuntman is about being able to analyze a situation, a potentially dangerous situation, and kind of look at all the possible outcomes ... so that we can have a singular outcome, which is a safe stunt that tells the story and is as big as we possibly can do it."

Smith-Petersen is still working in stunts today; his most recent film was 2023's "Manodrome." 

Ben Smith-Petersen and Riley Keough met on the set of Mad Max

Ben Smith-Petersen's wife, Riley Keough, wrote an article sharing their love story with British Vogue. The pair originally met in Namibia while filming "Mad Max: Fury Road." Smith-Petersen was on the stunt crew, and Keough was playing the character Capable. But the pair didn't connect on any deeper level at the time. As Keough explained, she was already in a relationship, so there was nothing between them. When the cast and crew reconvened in Australia for reshoots, sparks flew between the pair.

After getting to know each other a little more on set, Keough recalled having the realization that she thought Smith-Petersen was cute. She ended up inviting him to a friend's house for a small get-together they were having, and she said the pair really connected that night.

"He started salsa dancing with me and teaching me, because he grew up dancing. It was such a fun night. A few of us went to one of the bays for a swim and it was really magic," Keough wrote. "Americans don't really do things like that. It felt like a fun adventure." Keough was staying in Australia for about a month after reshoots, giving them some time to get to know each other in Smith-Petersen's home country. After just a week together, they didn't want to separate, and Keough postponed her trip back so they could stay together longer.

He's expanding his career into acting and music

Starting circus training at age 14 and having a successful career there gave Ben Smith-Petersen a life as a stunt performer. He's now worked in the stunt industry for over a decade. However, there are other sectors of entertainment that Smith-Petersen has shown interest in. Like his wife, who happens to be the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, Smith-Petersen seems to also have a talent for acting and music. He first tried his hand at acting in the 2012 martial arts action film "Agent Provocateur." He also acted in the 2014 short film "Brawl" and in 2021's "Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman" along with a few other projects.

On top of stepping into acting, he's also done some work as a musician. Smith-Petersen released a song in 2013 called "Sandpaper" as an independent artist (via YouTube). In the music video, Smith-Petersen combines a variety of his skills as he acts and performs stunts along with the song that he wrote and performed. Currently, Smith-Petersen has two more acting roles coming up, and we may see more music from him in the future.

Ben and Riley had two wedding ceremonies

It seems that Riley Keough and Ben Smith-Petersen are so in love that getting married once just wasn't enough. As Keough wrote for British Vogue, the pair had their first wedding in Nepal in 2015. They were there volunteering to build schools for a couple of weeks. Because the families they were working with knew that they were about to get married, they offered to throw them a small Hindu wedding. "In some ways, that wedding was a little more intimate and really special," Keough said. "That wedding, I cried. At my bigger wedding I was a little nervous, I wasn't as present."

However, their second wedding was still special. Friends and family attended the larger wedding in Napa, California, to celebrate the couple. Speaking to Hello Magazine about the wedding, Smith-Petersen said, "When I saw her walk in — for some reason, that was the hardest time for me not to cry."

Although they kept the ceremony simple, it was a star-studded affair. Keough's famous family members, including Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley, were in attendance, along with other celebrities like Kristen Stewart, Dakota Johnson, and Cara Delevingne. Talent manager and Elvis' close friend Jerry Schilling officiated the wedding, and Keough's father and brother were part of the wedding band.

Ben Smith-Petersen has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Ben Smith-Petersen seems to be constantly expanding his skill set. One of his areas of expertise is Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). BJJ is a type of martial art centered on taking your opponent down to subdue or control them. A thorough understanding of BJJ allows someone to win a fight regardless of if they are physically smaller or weaker than their opponent. The techniques for BJJ are frequently utilized in mixed martial arts (MMA).

In 2021, Smith-Petersen received his black belt in BJJ. This is no small feat, as BJJ takes rigorous training, and earning a black belt typically takes at least 10 years. Riley Keough took to her Instagram to celebrate her husband's accomplishment, posting a photo of him with his newly earned belt with the caption, "Ben got his black belt today in BJJ. He always wanted to get his black belt before he turned 30, and he did it! I'm so proud of you."

He has a tattoo dedicated to his wife

From the beginning of their relationship, Ben Smith-Petersen and Riley Keough weren't afraid to take risks and make bold moves. On their third day together, they got matching tattoos. This was after they finished "Mad Max" reshoots when they were spending time together in Sydney, Australia. Many people consider getting matching tattoos or your partner's name tattooed as bad luck for a relationship, but they did it when they hardly knew each other and didn't even think they had a future. Perhaps they weren't scared to get tattoos because they saw the whole thing as an adventure.

In her article for British Vogue, Keough said that the tattoos were "just for fun, never thinking the relationship would go anywhere." But soon after, she recalled thinking, "I can't leave him. I feel like this is something really special."

So it doesn't seem their spur-of-the-moment tattoos had any negative effect on the relationship. If anything, it was good luck for the couple who's been together ever since. In 2021, the couple showed off another tattoo he got in honor of his wife in a photo shoot. In the photo, Keough helps him to show the tattoo on his lower abdomen, which says "Riley" (via Interview Magazine).

Ben supported Riley through her family loss

Over the past few years, Riley Keough has experienced two major losses. The first was when her brother, Benjamin Keough, died by suicide in 2020. In a heartbreaking Instagram post dedicated to her brother, Keough wrote, "I hope you give me strength to endure the giant hole you've left in my heart. I hope you give me the strength to eat. ... I can't believe you've left me. Not you, sweet Ben Ben. Anyone but you. I guess this is true heartbreak. I hope we meet again." Then in January 2023, Keough lost her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, from cardiac arrest.

Ben Smith-Petersen has been by his wife's side to support her through these family tragedies. The couple attended her mother's memorial service in Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, together. During the service, Smith-Petersen read a tribute written by Keough, which the actor likely felt too emotional to deliver herself. Keough sat in the front row while her husband read the words she'd written for her mother.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Ben and Riley kept the birth of their daughter quiet

During the memorial service for Lisa Marie Presley, Ben-Smith Petersen read a tribute to his mother-in-law, written by his wife, Riley Keough. In the speech, he mentioned his and Riley's daughter, saying, "I hope I can love my daughter the way you loved me, the way you loved my brother and my sisters." Smith-Petersen continued reading his wife's words to her mother, saying, "Thank you for giving me strength, my heart, my empathy, my courage, my sense of humor, my manners, my temper, my wildness, my tenacity. I'm a product of your heart."

The whole tribute was quite heartwarming, but the line about their daughter caught many's attention because Smith-Petersen and Keough had never spoken publicly about having a child. The couple didn't give any further details about their child's age or name. However, a representative for Keough confirmed to People that the couple had a baby girl in 2022. They've chosen to keep their family private, and so far decided not to share any photos or further info about their daughter.

Ben Smith-Petersen has a cameo in Daisy Jones & The Six

It's clear to any fans of Riley Keough and Ben Smith-Petersen how in love they are. They've been married for eight years and appear to be just as enamored with each other now as they were at the beginning. Smith-Petersen shared a wedding photo on Instagram for their anniversary last year, and in the caption, he wrote to his wife, "Seven years of rad luck. I love you to the moon and back. 7,000 more years, please." The couple still seems happy to spend as much time together as possible, including at work. The pair met while shooting "Mad Max: Fury Road," and Keough recently confirmed that her husband was on set with her again for "Daisy Jones & The Six."

"Daisy Jones & The Six" is a highly-anticipated Amazon series based on a book by the same name. Keough stars in the series as the titular character Daisy Jones, and she recently revealed to Entertainment Tonight that her husband has a cameo in at least one episode. "I don't want to spoil it, but the producers thought it would be funny if he was in that scene," Keough said. "They were like, 'Do you want Ben to do this?' And I was like, 'Yeah, that's hilarious.'"