A nail-biting stunt sequence is one of the most important parts of any successful action film, and one man who knows this better than most is professional stunt performer Gordon Alexander. His latest role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. saw the intrepid Scot leap from a pier onto a moving boat – but that’s child’s play for Gordon, who cut his teeth working with Jackie Chan on Chinese martial arts films. We asked the daredevil to tell us about it – and choose four other movie stunts he loves.
1. The Man Who Would Be King
Stuntman Joe Powell stood in for Sean Connery in this perilous scene, where his character Daniel Dravot plummets to his death from a rope bridge. Powell fell 30 metres into the ravine onto a bed of cardboard and mattresses, but the danger was real – if his position was even slightly off or if the wind picked up, he would have missed the mattress buffer and fallen to his death.
2. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
“I jumped from a pier onto a small Fletcher speed boat being driven by Armie Hammer,” explains Alexander. “I had to run the length of the pier and time it so that I managed to jump and catch the accelerating boat. The back of it was flat with nothing to hold on to, and the film crew were taking bets that I’d end up in the Thames. I managed to nail it on the first take, but I think it was more luck than judgement!”
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Stuntman Vic Armstrong stood in for Harrison Ford to jump from a galloping horse to a moving tank. Alexander’s verdict: “It's a ballsy stunt, and a big jump!”
4. Interview with a Vampire
A particularly dangerous stunt sequence from the archives sees actors on fire while being lifted on wires. Brad Pitt’s character Louis exacts a fiery revenge on vampires who’ve betrayed him, and stuntpeople Andreas Petrides, Nick Gillard and Lee Sheward brave the heat.
5. The Man with the Golden Gun
Ambulance crews, divers and cranes were on standby as Loren “Bumps” Willard drove an AMC Hornet up a worringly rickety-looking wooden ramp at 40mph, and executed a perfect 270° barrel roll over the river.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E is available on digital download , Blu-ray™ and DVD now.
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