Since 2001, stuntman Adam Kirley has worked on the likes of Batman Begins, Die Another Day, Stormbreaker, Tomb Raider and The Mummy Returns.
CultBox caught up with Adam to discuss performing the spectacular Aston Martin crash in Casino Royale…
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a stuntman?
“The main thing is that it’s a really competitive industry with a lot of talented people, and there’s not a lot of work. If it’s your dream, then I’d say pursue it. But you can’t get into it half-heartedly.”
What made you want to become a stuntman?
“I’ve wanted to since I was five years old. I was brought up in the 80s, so was subjected to lots of action on TV, like The A Team and Dukes Of Hazzard. I was always very active at school, heaping around trees, so was groomed from an early age I guess! I’d re-enact stuff, I was really into Indiana Jones and the Bond movies too.”
Have you ever been injured as a result of your job?
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career really, I’ve had the odd few bangs, pulled ligaments, dislocated shoulder, etc. – but I’ve never broken any bones. I’ve been off for a few months due to injuries, being in plaster and having physio. But within a week I’m clawing at the walls!”
Has there ever been a stunt you’ve asked to do which you’ve had doubts about or refused to do?
“No, I’m open to most things within reason. If I’m unsure then we’ll just give more time for rehearsal. I’ve done jobs that other people have turned down though, that I’ve known are within my range.”
What’s your favourite type of stunt do to?
“It all goes back to being a kid really, I’ve always been fascinated by driving stunts and crashes, so a stunt driver is what I’d always aspired to be.”
Which stunt that you’ve done are you most proud of?
“I’ve got a Top Three which changes all the time, but the main one has to be crashing the Aston Martin at 80mph in Casino Royale.
“To get the Guinness World Record, and then to be nominated for the World Stunt Awards too… we’re going to LA in May, representing the UK! We’re up for Best High Work, for the crane jump at the start, and Best Work With A Vehicle. To be a stuntman for a Bond movie was just beyond my dreams.
“When Pierce (Brosnan) was Bond I was always too short as I’m 5ft 10, but I’ve been doubling for Daniel (Craig) for a few years now, so when there were rumours about him getting the part I knew maybe there was the potential, and then to get the call… I could just retire now as a happy man! I’ve been so fortunate even getting into the industry, but to double for James Bond is just the ultimate accolade really.”
The free-running chase at the start of Casino Royale is now regarded by fans as one of the best action sequences in Bond movie history, how long were you working in that?
“We rehearsed for the crane jump for three months, in a stage jumping 20ft from a platform, practising landing on such a tight mark on the floor. Then we rehearsed for a few weeks in the Bahamas. Self-preservation would still kick in though when it came to actually doing the jump, it didn’t get any easier each time!”
How many Aston Martins were smashed doing the crash in Casino Royale?
“We crashed three or four I think. And there were two BMWs that we tested on. The Aston Martin is such a work of art, it’s like the ultimate car, so yeah, part of you doesn’t want to smash it, it just looks amazing! But then, you can’t help but have a little smile, thinking you’ve got permission to crash a £200,000 car!
“I was only the second or third person to drive that new model, and I got to be the first to crash one!”
How’s your driving when you’re not working?
“Oh, I drive very sensibly on the roads, I don’t even go over the speed limits. I don’t really need to when I can drive like a maniac and get paid for it!”
What was it like working with director Christopher Nolan on Batman Begins?
“He’s a very interesting character. He’s got lots of passion for the franchise, he’s very focused. His working methods are very different to other directors. Usually on films, there’s at least two units – one for the main cast, and the second for the stunts and stuff. But he runs just one, it’s just him doing everything, he likes to oversee it all, so it takes almost twice as long to shoot.”
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