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Old 05-25-2011, 01:40 PM   #1
Rocket Surgeon
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Vic Armstrong

Interview: Vic Armstrong talks about being the worldís greatest stuntman!

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Vic Armstrong is a name you may not be familiar with, but youíre sure to have seen his work. Armstrong has been a stunt coordinator and unit director, and as such, has overseen and directed countless famous action sequences, such as those from WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) and STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997). He has also worked extensively as a stunt performer, doubling up for such iconic characters as Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Superman. Armstrong has had a long and varied career within the industry, from his early days as stunt double in ARABESQUE (1966) and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) to the current THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012) production.

The Hollywood News was fortunate enough to have caught up the Oscar and BAFTA winning Vic Armstrong, just as he is set to reveal all in his autobiography THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE WORLDíS GREATEST STUNTMAN.

THN: Youíve worked on a great number of films, but is there one in particular that made your name as a top performer within the industry?



Vic On The Set Of Raiders (1981)

VA: I was so lucky to be around when all these films were kicking off, Ė yí know, Superman, the Indiana Jones movies. Everybody loves a big movie. I always said that you do some of your best work on the smaller movies, but they all add to your prestige

THN: Is there a film of which youíre particularly proud or a favourite of yours?

VA: Indiana Jones is just wonderful. Iím really proud of that. It raised the bar for action and I think theyíll last forever. The first three are wonderful. Then, Superman was groundbreaking in its day, with all the flying. The Bonds of courseÖ starting off as a stuntman on You Only Live Twice and ending up directing huge sequences. Thatís a great thing and Iím very proud of it. Iím very proud of the boat chase from The World is Not Enough, which is a wonderful sequence.

THN: What is the most satisfying aspect of working as a stuntman or coordinator?

VA: The greatest fun is the creativity and originality. Every golf course is 18 holes with so many par fours and so many par threes. The lay of the land all has its own character, and I like to think of that in terms of action, let the location suggest whatís going to happen. We know what we need story-wise out of a sequence but the actual turn of events will be dictated by the location. In the end, coming up with something original is very satisfying.



Vic As Indiana Jones In Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

THN: As a stunt performer or coordinator, do you feel a sense of responsibility for the finished product?

Absolutely. Iím responsible for the budget, for the stories, for employing the people, the safety of the people, and the shooting of the film. But at the end of the day, all that matters is whether Joe Public is going to like it Ė is it going to be good? For instance, with Spider-Man, weíve done some groundbreaking stuff and we just hope the public like it. Itís always nerve-wracking.

THN: Have there been any stunts that have been particularly daunting? Or scenarios that youíve refused to take part in due to levels of danger?

VA: No, because I always say anything can be done, itís just how you achieve it. Thereís always an alternative and you should always offer an alternative. Itís no good saying Ďnope, you canít do that mateí Ė you have to say Ďwell we canít do thatÖ but what we can do is this, this, and thisí Ė and thatís all part of the politics and what you learn over the years.

THN: Youíve doubled for a wide range of famous characters, such as Indy, James Bond, and Superman, are there any iconic movie characters you wish youíd had the chance to play?

VA: I was offered The Fugitive with Harrison, but at the same time I was offered a film to direct Ė the second Greystoke Ė which didnít get made in the finish, but by then Iíd turned down The Fugitive. So Iíve always regretted that. But Iíve always been happy with the films Iíve done.

THN: Are there any particular actors you would like to have worked with? Or any directors that havenít had chance to work with so far?

VA: I would have liked to work with Kurosawa Ė Iím a great fan of his work. But Iíve worked all around the world with all different people, and Iím very happy with the way itís panned out actually.

THN: From over the years, have there been actors who were forthcoming in performing their stunts?

VA: Always, and there are more and more nowadays. Thereís Harrison Ford obviously, he was always like thatÖ and itís not the fact they want to do their own stunts if itís safe, itís that they want to portray their character as much as they can. I understand their point of view, but then at the same time, working on a fifty-million dollar movie, if that actor gets hurtÖ but then, thereís the professional side of it Ė sometimes a stuntman can do that piece of action better than the actor, sometimes thereís no way youíd ever recognise the actor or stuntman, so thereís no point in taking that risk. Having said that, with modern technology we can take what appear to be more risks, but in fact theyíre safer. People like Tom Cruise always want to do their own stunts, so we can design the action around what he wants so he can do it. But sometimes you have to be the bad man and say Ďno you canít do it, itís not practical, or itís too dangerousí.

THN: Youíve worked extensively as stunt coordinator over the years. Can you explain a little about the process?

VA: A stunt coordinator is like a project manager Ė Iím employed by the producer or director to choreograph stunts for them. I look at the stunts, suggest stunts, write stunts, and break those stunts down into how youíre going to shoot them. I talk to various departments Ė from the construction to the art department and the special effects. All the little pieces need to be built three months in advance into the sets, and then you hire the stunt people. Depending on the stunts you might have two or three people for only one actor or sequence. Then you film it, rehearse it and show it to the director and so on and so forth, and then youíll be on the set when theyíre shooting it, checking for safety, the timing, and the camera angles. Itís a very involved and creative job

THN: How has the rise in CGI and digital effects impacted stunt work? Has is affected the need for stunt performers?

VA: Itís been talked about for so long nowÖ personally, I love it. I think itís a great tool and when correctly used itís wonderful. Itís like morphine, which is a fantastic drug when used correctly, but if you overuse it you get addicted to it and itís a terrible drug Ė itís a killer. You just apply that to the movies: used correctly itís a Ďget out of jail free cardí.

THN: Have you considered taking up directing again?

VA: Iíve been offered a few things, but I donít want to do something thatís going straight to video. Iíd rather do action units on big movies. But if the right film came alongÖ I was offered some things in India. They like me in India, they like the Western action, so they call for advice and things like that.

THN: Of the movies you didnít work on, what action sequences/stunt work has impressed you over the years?

VA: I loved True Lies, which was a tremendous action film, and one Iíd love to have worked on. Thereís lots of stuff out there Iíve been impressed with Ė The Fugitive for instance.

THN: Can you tell us anything about the upcoming Spider-Man?

VA: Iím very impressed actually. Itís all wrapped and packed now. Our approach on it was back-to-basics and reality. We had to come up with some ideas on flying. Thereís a lot of physical action in it, and though we use CG in various areas as an assist, all the flying and everything like that Ė unless itís really technically impossible Ė itíll be all human flying. I did some stuff a few weeks ago on 12th Avenue in New York, and you see Spider-Man flying down under this huge flyover and it looks tremendous Ė you can see the G-force on his body as he changes direction. Thereís an organic reality to it that you donít get with CG. I think you distance yourself and close off when you realise Ďok itís a cartoon, itís not realí.

THN: What advice would give to anyone looking to break into stunt work?

VA: Get one specialty Ė riding a horse or standing on one hand Ė whatever it is, push your specialty. When you make a movie, you donít want somebody whoís average, you want someone whoís above and beyond the call of duty. Whatever you do in the movies, thereís always an edge to it Ė itís never straightforward. You have to have tremendous ability, and once you have the ability, you have confidence, then you can think clinically about what youíre doing. If somebodyís not very good at their job and theyíre nervous, they become unglued when the going gets rough. Really persevere at the one thing that youíre good at, learn other things obviously, but thatís the one thatís going to get you inside.

The True Adventures Of The Worldís Greatest Stuntman is available now from Titan Books

The pics look more like Doom and Crusade...
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:56 PM   #2
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Vic Armstrong just published a memoir about his career as a Hollywood stuntman; the LA Times has an excerpt.



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The next day we shot the fight around the plane. Harrison and Roach squared up to each other and Harrison threw a punch. "That's great. Moving on," said Steven. Now as a stunt co-ordinator my job is to make sure that, on film, those punches look like they've connected. I was standing looking right over the lens of the camera and in my opinion it was a miss. Now I was stuck between a rock and a hard place because Steven had called it good, but I thought I'd better say something. "Excuse me sir, that was actually a miss." He went, "Oh, you again." I said, "Yeah, sorry, it was a miss." Steven paused briefly. "Well, I thought it was a hit." I said, "No, I was actually looking over the lens and it was a miss, I think." Finally Steven said, "OK, we'll do it again." After that take was completed Steven, sarcastically almost, turned to me and said, "How was that?" I went, "That was good. That was a hit." And we carried on and created a great fight routine. Three days later we were all watching dailies when the shot that I'd said was a miss came on screen. Steven had printed it. The old heart started to go, but sure enough it was a miss and Steven, who was right in front of me, turned round and said, "Good call Vic." I couldn't do much wrong after that, it was great.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:16 PM   #3
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Another Shoot the Swordsman origin story!

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’: 30 years later, a stuntman’s memories



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Next month marks the 30th anniversary of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and we’ll be looking back on that sparkling film with special features. Monday, an exclusive excerpt from “The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman,” the just-published memoir by Vic Armstrong, the stunt coordinator and stunt double who Martin Scorsese has called “a legend in the film world.” Armstrong has portrayed James Bond, Superman and Flash Gordon – at least when the action was underway — but his signature screen success came while wearing a fedora in three Indiana Jones films. In this excerpt from the new Titan Books hardcover, Armstrong writes about working with Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg and offers an account of one scene (where Indiana Jones shoots a swordsman) that differs a bit from widely reported versions that credit Ford with a memorable moment of improvisation.


Out on location in Tunisia, stunt co-ordinator Peter Diamond was setting up a fight between Indy and this big hulking Nazi brute (played by my old friend Pat Roach) around an aeroplane, and asked me to take over co-ordinating the first unit because he had to run off to do the truck chase. He gave me a storyboard of 30 or 40 pictures. In the meantime they were shooting some other stuff and I hung around watching as Steven Spielberg instructed the second camera operator what angles he wanted to shoot the arrival of a vehicle convoy. This cameraman rehearsed for a while, but didn’t like the set-up Spielberg gave him, so he changed it. That’s interesting, I thought, he didn’t ask or say anything, he just did it. After the shot Spielberg returned to ask how it went and the camera guy said, “I didn’t like your angle so I’ve changed it.” Spielberg went, “Have you?” I said to Dave Tomblin, the film’s 1st A.D., “Who’s that camera operator there telling Steven Spielberg what the angle should be?” Dave said, “Oh, that’s George Lucas.”

By now it was about noon, we hadn’t done the fight yet so I decided to get an early lunch. Walking off I heard someone shout, “Harrison.” I kept walking. “Harrison, Harrison!” The voice repeated. Then somebody grabbed me by the shoulder and spun me round. It was Spielberg. “You’re not Harrison.” I said, “I know I’m not Harrison. I’m Vic Armstrong.” Steven said, “What are you doing here?” I replied, “I’m a stuntman. I just arrived last night.” “But you’re a fantastic double for Harrison,” Spielberg said, then yelled for Tomblin to come over. “Dave, this stuntman looks just like Harrison, I thought he was Harrison.” Dave said, “This is the guy we’d first suggested as stunt double for Harrison, but he’s been in Mexico, we’ve only just been able to get him.” “Fantastic!” roared Steven.

It’s amazing really just how closely I resembled Harrison, the way I looked, walked and acted. Even his clothes fit me, except his boots which were a bit too tight, but everything else fit like a glove. I suppose the time that really sums up how similar we were was when I was walking along and Harrison’s kid came up, took hold of my hand and walked along with me — until I started to speak, which made him look up, scream and run off. In one interview Harrison said, “Yeah, we look alike. He spent several nights with my wife before she realized.” Funny guy.

The fight concludes with a truckload of Germans arriving on the scene and Indy blasting them all to hell. The night before, Steven had talked to Kit West, the special effects chief who ended up getting an Oscar for “Raiders.” “Kit, I don’t like the idea of blood splashing everywhere. I want a sort of mist, a dust feel.” Kit went, “Umm, OK.” Cut to the next day and sure enough, bang, bang, bang, all the squibs went off and this dust flew into the air. “That’s great Kit. Cut,” said Steven. Then all our eyes started burning like mad and we began sneezing, everybody was in real pain and we couldn’t think what the hell was going on until somebody said to Kit, “What did you use in those squibs?” And he went, “I was hoping nobody would find out. Steven didn’t ask me until late last night and there’s nowhere to go shopping in the local town, there’s only like two shops and a camel station, so I used Cayenne pepper. It was the only red dust I could find.” And of course we all got these terrible eyes and noses streaming and coughing and sneezing. It was hysterical.

“Raiders” was shot at a real breakneck pace. I was sitting with Spielberg one day waiting to do a shot with this car and Les Dilley from the art department was diligently dusting it down, making sure it matched exactly the last scene and Steven yelled, “For God’s sake guys, come on let’s get a move on, this is only a B-movie, let’s go, go, go. Don’t worry about the damn dust.” After the problems on “1941,” Steven wanted to do Raiders purely to prove that he could shoot on schedule, on budget and deliver the goods. When I talked to him about “1941″ he said, ‘It was never a failure, it actually made money, it just didn’t make as much money as my other films had done. But I think I made one mistake with it, I should have made it a musical.”

Tunisia was a tough location, everybody was ill. It was just excruciatingly hot and we had to stop shooting at two o’clock when it reached 120 degrees. You didn’t even sweat; all you had was salt on your arms because it evaporated before it hit the air. You’d drive to work in the morning and see Arab people throwing up…and they were the bloody locals! Steven wouldn’t eat or drink anything unless he’d physically broken the seal of the bottle himself or opened the can that he was eating from; just because he daren’t have time off through illness. We also couldn’t understand why the crew was getting so ill, because we all drank bottled Evian water. Until one day somebody followed the guy that collected the empties and saw him filling these Evian bottles straight out of the water truck and putting the lids back on and handing them out. We put a stop to that but people were still ill. And the hotel was bloody awful; you’d have to scrape the meal off the plates.

By now I’d met Harrison and he was great, very down to earth and welcoming, a wonderful guy. We both have the same outlook on life and professionalism. He really is a consummate professional. We worked very closely on all the fights. I’d work them out first before bringing Harrison in, and then choreograph it with him to make sure all the moves and the punches went the way he felt comfortable doing it. Then we’d take it to show Spielberg. And that’s how we worked together on the next two Indy movies as well.

Pretty quickly I became known around the industry as a double for Harrison. In “Return of the Jedi” I was tied to a pole as Han Solo and carried by Ewoks through the treetops, because Harrison had a bad back. And before that I did “Blade Runner.” Harrison was busy on another film and the studio desperately needed some pick up shots of him, so they flew over from L.A., where the movie was made, and rebuilt some of the sets at Pinewood for me to double Harrison on. They built the bathroom where he finds the fish scales and the whole Asian market, which was quite a big set. It was funny because I watched the “Blade Runner” dailies of me running through the market and all of a sudden this white unicorn appeared. “What the heck is that?” I asked the editor. ‘Oh that’s a film Ridley’s thinking of doing.’ He was obviously shooting tests for “Legend,” which I subsequently worked on.

In “Raiders” there’s that famous scene where Indy meets this hulking great Arab swordsman and simply shoots him dead. Originally there was an elaborate fight sequence planned and a stunt team went up to the coast for two weeks working it out. They really drew the easy ticket – we heard all this talk about fabulous beaches and topless tourists, and there we were stuck down in bloody Nefta with the dysentery mob. When the main crew finished with us they flew up to the coast to join Peter Diamond, who showed Steven the fight routine. Big Terry Richards played the Arab and he swished his sword about and then the fight carried on through the whole of the Casbah.

Steven watched and said, “Look, I’m going to shoot whatever I can until three o’clock because then I’m getting out of here.” Peter Diamond was dumbstruck: “You can’t do that, it’s gonna take four days to film this fight. It’s a huge fight and the guys have been rehearsing it for weeks.’ Steven said, ‘I’ve got a plane coming at three, I’m out of here, I’ve got enough, I don’t need any more here.’ Tomblin butted in, ‘For Christ’s sake Steven, you’ve got to do this.’ But Steven was standing firm, “No, I’m out at three.” Tomblin said, “Well, it’s stupid doing this whole routine, you might as well just shoot the guy with a gun.” “Don’t be facetious Dave.” Then Steven paused. “I’ll tell you what, let’s try that. Yes, let’s try just shooting him.” And the rest is history.– Vic Armstrong
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:38 PM   #4
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It Takes Guts To Be 'The World's Greatest Stuntman'



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And though CGI can be useful, Armstrong says that in the upcoming Superman ó one of his latest projects ó 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."
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Old 05-25-2011, 03:39 PM   #5
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Interesting reading. Thanks Rocket. I always forget how good a double Vic is of Ford... but I guess that's one of the reasons he's so good.
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:02 PM   #6
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So, the book is FINALLY out! We talking about it here: Harrison's Stunt Doubles. If the North American edition has a different cover photo, I would prefer the U.K. edition.
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Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Another Shoot the Swordsman origin story!
Hmmm. Very curious. When I read stories like this, it often makes me wonder how often Spielberg embellishes things. (Ex. Saying that Harrison staples his hat to head to keep it on. Yes, there's footage of him doing that but it's supposedly just a joke for the camera. I believe even Harrison has confirmed this.)
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Out on location in Tunisia, stunt co-ordinator Peter Diamond was setting up a fight between Indy and this big hulking Nazi brute (played by my old friend Pat Roach) around an aeroplane, and asked me to take over co-ordinating the first unit because he had to run off to do the truck chase. He gave me a storyboard of 30 or 40 pictures.
This is another conflicting story because Spielberg has said that the German Mechanic fight was not storyboarded and he made the shots up on the spot. There's certainly no storyboards in the "Illustrated Screenplay".

Thanks for posting the radio interview, Rocket. Well worth the listen and I especially enjoyed hearing Vic talk about making "Young Winston" because I love that film! (Though he mistakingly says that the cavalry charge took place during the Boer War. The famous charge at Omdurman was during the 2nd Anglo-Sudan War.)
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:05 PM   #7
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Interesting reading. Thanks Rocket. I always forget how good a double Vic is of Ford... but I guess that's one of the reasons he's so good.

Seems like one of the nicest guys...

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Originally Posted by Stoo
So, the book is FINALLY out! We talking about it here: Harrison's Stunt Doubles. If the North American edition has a different cover photo, I would prefer the U.K. edition.

Thanks for posting the radio interview, Rocket. Well worth the listen and I especially enjoyed hearing Vic talk about making "Young Winston" because I love that film! (Though he mistakingly says that the cavalry charge took place during the Boer War. The famous charge at Omdurman was during the 2nd Anglo-Sudan War.)
Considered posting it there, but he's really worth his own thread!

RE: The Book's cover:

The question is: What deleted scene has Indiana Jones JUMPING OFF the rope bridge?!?!
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:13 PM   #8
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Vic absolutely deserves his own thread!

Yeah, the photo is very intriguing. Wish we knew more...

I also love the story about the cayenne pepper! Ha!
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Stoo
Vic absolutely deserves his own thread!

Yeah, the photo is very intriguing. Wish we knew more...

I also love the story about the cayenne pepper! Ha!

Lots of great new stories!

He flew with EIGHT helicopter pilots who died...wow.
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:53 PM   #10
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Was it also Vic Armstrong in the Spike Chamber in Doom when Willie drops the lamp?

Most obvious double EVER......but only until you notice.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:50 PM   #11
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Was it also Vic Armstrong in the Spike Chamber in Doom when Willie drops the lamp?

Most obvious double EVER......but only until you notice.

Great to have such a "document." What we see is almost as amazing as what we don't see.
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:20 PM   #12
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Pics from the book? Some new ones to me...

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Old 05-26-2011, 07:13 PM   #13
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Excerpt: 'The True Adventures Of The World's Greatest Stuntman'
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A WEREWOLF IN PICCADILLY
By Vic Armstrong


By now as a stuntman I must have driven every vehicle going: trucks, motorbikes, cars, boats, you name it. I'd even learnt to fly aeroplanes in my spare time. Thanks to Alf Joint I could now add a red London double-decker bus to the list. The chance came when I worked alongside him as co-stunt co-ordinator on An American Werewolf in London. Alf had got a call out of the blue from director John Landis. 'John who?' Alf said. Years earlier Alf was working on the Clint Eastwood war film Kelly's Heroes, when Landis was no more than a gofer. Everybody gave him an awful time except Alf, so Landis always had a soft spot for him. In fact everybody that was rude or dissed him on Kelly's Heroes Landis gave the cold shoulder to when he became a director. 'Alf, it's John Landis,' the phone call went. 'Remember that werewolf story I was telling you about on Kelly's Heroes? I've got it off the ground. I'm making a movie of it.'

The film featured groundbreaking special effects, but from a stunt point of view the biggest headache was the climax, when the wolf escapes from a porno cinema in London's West End and wreaks havoc in Piccadilly Circus. The police refused to give us permission to shut the area down but said we could briefly stop the traffic, so long as it was at three in the morning on a weekend when it was at its lowest ebb. I knew then that planning was vital to the sequence being a success. Alf was of the same mind: we needed rehearsal, rehearsal and rehearsal. At Brooklands Aerodrome we built a replica of Piccadilly Circus; the whole area was marked out to scale, every road, every curb was represented by bales of hay. It was a big effort because we had twenty-odd stunt people there, all the crew, vehicles, back-up, catering, all for two weeks. The production just saw it as a waste of money, not realising that this kind of rehearsal pays off on the day.

The key vehicle in the sequence is a London double-decker bus, which had to do a 180-degree spin to start off the mayhem. I was the bus driver and whenever I tried to spin the bus it would just slide 10 or 20 degrees and stop, because it was so well balanced. We were sitting there scratching our heads as to how we were going to get this thing to spin when Dave Bickers said to me, 'What help do you need?' Now, the previous day I'd been to get new tyres for my horse truck. The tyre fitter at the shop had a trolley jack under the back end and just pulled the truck sideways, so what I figured we needed were some wheels at 90 degrees to the bus's rear wheels, that could lift the rear end up as I made the manoeuvre. Dave said we needed to invert one of my air rams, that could fire 10-inch fork lift wheels down on cue, but he'd have to cut a hole in the bottom of the bus. 'Do what you want,' I said. 'Just get the rig made.' This is another example of the genius of Dave Bickers.

On the night of the shoot, Dave's team parked up every road with tow trucks and on a given signal just pulled out with their flashing lights to stop any traffic coming through. Every alleyway and doorway had to be policed as well; we couldn't have pedestrians suddenly walking in. It was Alf's idea to have this bus do a 180-degree spin, which was the cue for all the 20 or so other vehicles to swerve and hit and crash bang wallop. Being the bus driver, I was parked down Lower Regent Street, waiting. On 'action' I came belting into Piccadilly Circus. There was a Wimpy burger restaurant on the corner and as I locked up the rear wheels and spun the steering wheel, the front end carried straight on because of the wet road. I thought, Jesus I'm going to make the record books here by going through Wimpy's in a double-decker bus. Just in time, the back end of the bus swung round on Dave's fork lift wheels rig, and started overtaking me ó and then it was just hell after that, bedlam, everybody put their pedal to the metal and the wreck was on. Everybody keyed off my bus, Rocky Taylor, Roy Alon, Tony Smart, we were so well rehearsed it was a chain reaction and a superb shot. We had the Dave Bickers team race in with their tow trucks to get rid of the wrecked vehicles, and people with brooms running in sweeping up all the broken glass, so everything looked as though we hadn't been there. Within two and a half minutes of shouting 'Action', normal traffic was allowed back in. The police just couldn't believe how quickly it was done.

The whole thing was repeated the next night to get more coverage, and then we went back to Brooklands and built various shop fronts for close-up stunt shots of people hurtling through them. Now John Landis always likes to be in his own movies and I drove the car that knocked him straight into a travel shop window. I also did a head-on crash with another driver going at 15 miles an hour each, that's a 30 mph impact, a hell of a jolt. And I made the classic mistake of keeping my hands on the steering wheel instead of letting go; you automatically just hold on to the steering wheel to brace yourself. My wrists ached for three weeks after that from the jar through the steering column. Still, it was a very rewarding picture to work on and I loved John Landis, very collaborative and a great guy to work with.
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Old 05-27-2011, 02:36 PM   #14
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Vic absolutely deserves his own thread!

Yeah, the photo is very intriguing. Wish we knew more...



From an email I got from Vic this morning when I asked him about the cover photo: Mitch - That was a separate closer shot we did of the actual cut of the rope and was on another piece of bridge we built. Thanks Vic

You can hear more with my interview with the man himself on the next edition of the IndyCast due out next week. Great guy, very funny and generous. Lots of cool stories about working on Bond, Indy and now Spiderman!
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:19 PM   #15
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I'd be excited too if I spoke with Vickie baby, but three posts? You must have put a dent in your right mouse button!

Great conversation, some of your comments were golden...especially getting him to laugh, sounded great!

Now I'm gonna go watch Raiders...watch Raiders.
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Old 06-10-2011, 06:53 PM   #16
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Vic Armstrong | Leonard Maltin | Maltin on Movies | Movie Trailer | Review
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:19 PM   #17
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Cairo Swordsman Q&A follow-up!

Vic Armstrong Moviefone interview:

Quote:
Moviefone: How rare is it that your whole family -- your father, your wife, your brother and your sons -- is in the stunt business?
Vic Armstrong: The film business does tend to blossom in families, but the amount of active ones working on the set is quite unique, I guess.

Moviefone: Before you met Harrison, did you ever think, Wow, I could double for that guy?

No, I hadn't. My brother, funnily enough, had worked for him on 'Hanover Street,' and he said, "Oh, there's an actor who looks just like you." And I went, "Oh, OK." I never really thought about it.

Moviefone: And then people started suggesting you work on 'Raiders.'

Yeah, they were already shooting it and people suggested, "Hey, we've got a ringer for him."

Moviefone: There were at least two other stuntmen doubling for Harrison, weren't there?

Yes, Terry Leonard [who did the famous truck chase] and Martin Grace [the Well of Souls statue-riding scenes]. On all films, you more often than not have several doubles, because there's two or three units shooting at the same time, so it's quite commonplace.

Moviefone: The scenes you did on 'Raiders' were mostly the fights?

Yeah, most of the fights and more and more on the other two films. I joined them a little way into the shoot, in Tunisia. They'd done all the rolling the ball in the studios with Martin Grace. I did the bit where the rolling ball exits the tunnel. That was in Kauai, and was one of the last things we shot.

Moviefone: The scene where Indy shoots the swordsman instead of dueling with him: I've always heard that Harrison suggested it because he was suffering from dysentery. But in your book you say it was Spielberg's idea because had a deadline he didn't want to go over. So what really happened?

I wasn't there, I was shooting down in Nesta in what they call Star Wars Valley, near the Algerian border. That was the version told to me by Dave Tomblin, the first A.D., who's dead now, so we'll never know. [Laughs] Harrison would be the man that would know.




Moviefone: How many movies did you double for Harrison on?

I did the three 'Indiana Jones' films, 'Return of the Jedi' and 'Frantic.'

Moviefone: So you didn't do 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls?'

No, I was in New York on 'I Am Legend.'

Moviefone: Did you regret not being involved?

In some ways, but there were nearly 30 years between them and it felt, and still feels, like a different movie. There was the trilogy that was very locked together and the other one, the overall concept, was quite different.

Moviefone: Why do you think 'Raiders' stands up so well?

I think they just got the ingredients absolutely right. You look at Bond, it's got longevity because it's got the right ingredients. I just think it was the timing of it. They got all the elements, like the Saturday morning serials, and rethinking what action is all about and giving it some more realism. All the stars aligned.

Moviefone: I think one of the reasons it holds up so well is that there isn't a lot of CG.

Exactly. That's one of the things I always say, is that CG is very much like morphine: Used correctly, it's wonderful, it does its job. Abused and overused, it's a killer. We used a bit of CG in 'Raiders,' to add to a few scenes and with the melting heads, but the action was pure action. People did feel they went and saw this real robust man going out there and doing really heroic things and you felt the jeopardy for Harrison or Indy. It felt real, which later films, with too much CG, you get a sense of disbelief because it doesn't feel real.

Moviefone: What's the scariest stunt you ever did?

The jump onto the tank [with a horse in 'The Last Crusade] was frightening, but mainly because you didn't want to fail. A stunt man's main fears, funnily enough, are not necessarily about being hurt, because you've normally rehearsed it to a certain degree, so you're reasonably confident. The biggest terror we have is failure, because when you're doing a stunt, it's normally the big highlight of the day. There's lots of other things involved and you're usually going to destroy something. If you don't get it in one take, then normally it's quite a big deal to re-rig it and set it up, and it's costly to do it all again. You've usually blown half the town up, so you feel a lot of responsibility.

Moviefone: In your book, you say Spielberg was terrified of heights and wouldn't walk across the rope bridge in 'Temple of Doom.'

Yeah, and I still don't know if he ever did get across it. Every day, it sort of became a little bit of a joke with all of us teasing him. He'd walk out onto it and he'd go, "Mmm, I'll do it tomorrow." It was a daunting thing. It wasn't just him, a lot of the crew wouldn't go across either.

Moviefone: That's interesting he puts all these things that scare him into his movies; he was also afraid of the snakes in 'Raiders.'

Absolutely. I think that's how his movies are so good; he looks at the world through the eyes of a kid and I think that's why he does emphasize it, because he's well aware of what that fear is.

Moviefone: They're talking about making a fifth Indiana Jones film. Would you want to be part of that?

I'd love to. I wouldn't double Harrison, because I'm too old now. There's far younger people to do that. But I'd love to be involved. It's a huge part of my career. It came at the perfect timing for me. I was the right age, I was right physicality and everything else and it just came together nicely. I would dearly love to be involved with another one.

Moviefone: What are you working on right now?

I've just finished 'Spider-Man.' Whole family is on that. Georgina, my daughter, has a nice little cameo with Andrew Garfield and my other daughter, Nina, was in it. My son, Scott was the lead stunt man and my brother Andy was stunt coordinator on the main unit. My nephews they've all been on it too, so it's a family affair. Armstrong Action. There's some great flying stuff with Garfield. You see the physical effect G-forces have on him when he changes directions on his web. And then you use CG to get you out of sticky places: We have airbags underneath and thicker cables to fly him on then we used to on the old days with 'Superman.'

Moviefone: What's your favorite film that you worked on?

Probably films that were less successful, but had more fun on, like 'Air America,' where we were living in Thailand and flying around on Huey helicopters. Out of the iconic films, probably the one I really, really enjoyed was 'The Last Crusade.' By then we were on our third Indy, so you're with people you know really well, the clothes fitted and we knew the flavor of the thing we wanted to do. It was just great, great fun. We had a blast.
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:35 PM   #18
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Thanks for posting that, Rocket. Some interesting insights from the man himself.

Quote:
Moviefone: So you didn't do 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls?' ... Did you regret not being involved?

In some ways, but there were nearly 30 years between them and it felt, and still feels, like a different movie. There was the trilogy that was very locked together and the other one, the overall concept, was quite different.

It sounds as though Vic thought he had a lucky escape.


Quote:
Moviefone: Why do you think 'Raiders' stands up so well?

I think they just got the ingredients absolutely right. You look at Bond, it's got longevity because it's got the right ingredients. I just think it was the timing of it. They got all the elements, like the Saturday morning serials, and rethinking what action is all about and giving it some more realism. All the stars aligned.

Moviefone: I think one of the reasons it holds up so well is that there isn't a lot of CG.

Exactly. That's one of the things I always say, is that CG is very much like morphine: Used correctly, it's wonderful, it does its job. Abused and overused, it's a killer. We used a bit of CG in 'Raiders,' to add to a few scenes and with the melting heads, but the action was pure action. People did feel they went and saw this real robust man going out there and doing really heroic things and you felt the jeopardy for Harrison or Indy. It felt real, which later films, with too much CG, you get a sense of disbelief because it doesn't feel real.

You really can't beat real stuntwork, or real effects, and Vic hit the nail on the head. KOTCS relied on too much CGI because it was a tool available to them. Without access to that level of computer power, film-makers have to be more creative in practical ways. Just think, they had to train that monkey in ROTLA to salute (okay they hit the poor thing on the head at first), but with CG at their fingertips in KOTCS, well, you know what happened.
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Old 06-27-2011, 07:41 PM   #19
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Thank you Montana re overuse or non judicial use of CG in CS. I can't stand the argument that each age utilises the technology available to them so therefore it's always OK. It greatly misses the point.
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Old 06-27-2011, 08:29 PM   #20
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When you are doing a movie the use of CGI should only be used on a need to basis in my opinion. Especially in a environment like Indy. Even in Star Wars for that matter.

This is a shot from A New Hope. The fact it's a model gives it depth and a realistic look.

A_NEW_HOPE-0

This is a shot from Attack of the Clones. It to me looks like a video game.

ATTACK_OF_THE_CLONES_D1-0

Sometimes CGI is great but Vic's right about it's over use. (Or should I say abuse)

Last edited by Attila the Professor : 06-27-2011 at 09:28 PM. Reason: removed extra image tags
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:49 PM   #21
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In case you didnt notice this is about Vic not Star Bores.
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:26 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Sharkey
In case you didnt notice this is about Vic not Star Bores.

And what did you add to the conversation? Besides another charming comment that is?
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:59 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry W Jones
And what did you add to the conversation? Besides another charming comment that is?
I'll add this, that image of the Star Destroyer with the vanes over the engines is Special Edition CGI. Your observations about Star Whores aren't just wrong, they're stupid. Why don't you bring gay porn into it while you're at it?
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:27 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharkey
Why don't you bring gay porn into it while you're at it?


I'm sure you've got plenty of that you could share? Don't ya Sharkey?
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:32 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry W Jones
I'm sure you've got plenty of that you could share? Don't ya Sharkey?
Sharkey don't play that home slice...
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