Legendary stuntman Vic Armstrong reveals his 007 secrets

MI6-HQMI6-HQ Administrator, Moderator, Director
edited May 2011 in MI6 Headlines & Feedback Posts: 3
<div class="AutoFeedDiscussion">Dangling over an icy precipice, dodging hungry sharks or leaping off a bridge is just another day at the office for Vic Armstrong, reports the Daily Mail. For 45 years, he has put his life on the line as a stuntman, bringing us some of the most sp...<br /><br />http://www.mi6-hq.com/news/index.php?itemid=9430</div>;

Comments

  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    edited May 2011 Posts: 987
    Looking forward to getting this book as Vic seems to of had a rather interesting life working with James Bond, Superman, Indiana Jones and Rambo to name a few! Though when he became second unit director on TWINE and DAD I'd assumed he was part of the 'Bond family' and had worked his way up on all the 70's and 80's ones but I believe he'd only worked on a paltry three (YOLT, OHMSS, LALD) and the unofficial NSNA. Still that's six more Bonds than I've ever worked on so it should make a good read.
  • Posts: 251
    Must have seen him many times without even knowing it. Could be a revealing read.
    Anyone got a copy yet?
  • Samuel001Samuel001 Moderator
    Posts: 13,340
    Anyone got a copy yet?
    It's not released until next Tuesday, so I'd guess not. ;-)
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    I got my ordered copy today despite it not being released yet. Haven't had a chance to have a good read yet but from a first glance it looks good, nice colour photo section in the middle and black and white stills in each of the small but tightly packed chapters and even an introduction by Steven Spielberg.
  • Posts: 65
    I picked my copy up last week (7th) and that was after noticing it the week previously (30th April).
  • Posts: 5,767
    Got it in the mail today. I´m only at page 25, tidbits about Vic´s childhood. Very interesting read so far.
  • JamesPageJamesPage Administrator, Moderator, Director
    Posts: 1,380
    Vic Armstrong has made a career out of jumping from helicopters, falling off horses and leaping from trains — and he's got the scars to prove it. He tells stories from his long career on set in The True Adventures Of The World's Greatest Stuntman, reports NPR (click to listen to the interview online.

    Armstrong tells NPR's Neal Conan that he got one of his first filmmaking gigs in You Only Live Twice, the 1967 James Bond film.

    "As a budding young stuntman," Armstrong says, "Bond was the movie genre to get into."

    Armstrong remembers that when he first arrived on-set, he could hardly believe his eyes.

    "There was a building as big as St. Paul's Cathedral in London, which was all made out of scaffolding," he explains. "Inside was this amazing interior of a volcano, with a rocket-launching machine in there [and] a helipad. The roof opened and the helicopter could actually fly in."

    The film's stunt coordinators took a look at Armstrong and issued a challenge: Slide from the top of the roof down to the ground on a rope while firing a machine gun.

    "I looked at it, and it was 125 feet, and I said of course I can," Armstrong recalls, "thinking, 'They are completely mad. There's no way.' "

    But he got the job and was ultimately asked to climb 125 feet above the scene and enter it as a ninja.

    "You were up there and you're sweating bullets. There's safety wires. You're just sitting on these little girders," he says.

    Crawling into position, Armstrong heard his colleague Joe Powell muttering as he set up the stunt, knotting the ropes that were responsible for keeping Armstrong from falling to his death. He remembers Powell jokingly ask himself, "Is it left over right, or right over left? Oh, that'll be all right."

    Armstrong's ultimate goal was to be a stunt double for a famous actor, and he got his chance with one of the Indiana Jones movies. In Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Armstrong jumped from a horse onto a tank as Harrison Ford's stunt double, "Harrison Ford has been a great friend of the stunt community," Armstrong says. But he says Ford deserves a lot of credit for also doing stunts himself.

    In a filming of Superman, a villain was supposed to throw a manhole cover at Superman, played by Christopher Reeve, hitting him in the stomach and knocking him back into a car.

    According to Armstrong, Reeve liked doing his own stunts.

    "Chris was one of the guys that desperately wanted to be every ounce of his character on-screen," he says.

    So, he recounts, when Armstrong was called in to double as Reeve in the manhole stunt, Reeve insisted on doing it himself. Armstrong bantered with Reeve, imploring him not get in the way of his paycheck for a hard day's work, and they eventually shot the take with Armstrong.

    By the end of the evening, Armstrong was pretty beaten up. He says he remembers Reeve walking by and saying, "Hey Vic, I'm really glad I didn't do that, buddy. Thank you."

    Today, Armstrong works in stunt coordinating and directing action units, which means he is instrumental in setting up action sequences, shot by shot.

    He says that unless a director uses computer-generated images, or CGI, actors have to do some or part of the stunts so the camera can get shots of their faces.

    So when Pierce Brosnan is seen going down the Thames River in a motorboat in one of the James Bond films, some of those shots are actually him. Armstrong says the tremendously dangerous stunts — like the boat's barrel roll — is where his team steps in.

    And though CGI can be useful, Armstrong says that in the upcoming Superman — one of his latest projects — he's taking his stunts back to the basics.

    He says the shots in Superman will be enhanced with some CGI, but only in moderation. He likens the technology to morphine.

    "[It's] a fantastic drug for what it was invented for," Armstrong says, "but if you abuse it or overuse it, it's a killer."
  • Posts: 5,767
    Very intelligent words at the end about CGI. I recently watched the latest two Fast&Furious films, and the CGI is one of the major factors (beside the atrocious plot) that keeps those films from looking like major productions, which they otherwise would be.
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