Vic Armstrong, ‘World’s Greatest Stuntman,’ Appears Back
Leading up to probably the most well-known stunts in cinema history, Indiana Jones — galloping atop a stolen horse — flies alongside a Nazi tank in an try to rescue his kidnapped father. Because the tank descends right into a canyon, Indy detours up the ridge alongside it, rises to his ft and leaps off of the horse onto the rushing tank beneath, proceeding to shoot, stab and fistfight a whole bunch of Nazis atop two moving automobiles.
That leap, a highlight from “Indiana Jones and the Last Campaign,” is broadly thought-about considered one of the greatest stunts ever. However Harrison Ford didn’t do it. It was Vic Armstrong, probably the most prolific stuntman of all time, in response to the “Guinness Ebook of World Records.”
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Armstrong planned the stunt for weeks, scouting the scene’s desert location in Almeria, Spain, laying rocks alongside the ridge to keep the horse “centered” and ironing out other precise details that may allow him to time the 18-foot stomach flop to perfection.
“Harrison’s a type of guys who’d do all his own stunts if he may,” Armstrong told mighty atom shirt The Huffington Submit. “But that is why we’re there: to remind them what they’re capable of.”
Armstrong bore a stark resemblance to Ford in those days. So much so that Ford once signed a photograph of Armstrong and him together, together with a word that read, “In the event you study to talk I am in deep trouble!”
“Fortunately, Harrison did not have to fret,” Armstrong stated. “I am a dreadful actor. Can’t act for the life of me.”
Today, Armstrong is an exceedingly amiable man in his 60s, fast to inform stories and laud the virtues of his favorite air bag, a chunk of stunt tools that his sons used to jump off the roof from their home in England. His new autobiography, “The True Adventures of the World’s Best Stuntman,” which hits shelves subsequent Tuesday, delves into the myriad relationships and experiences he’s cultivated from virtually 50 years in the business.
Armstrong spoke to HuffPost from his hotel room, high above Manhattan on the 34th floor of the Le Parker Meridian, a fitting view for the last word stuntman. “You could not jump out of this constructing, hit the bottom and stroll away,” Armstrong stated, gazing out the window at the steep drop under. “However you may all the time create the illusion of it.”
Fast to champion the early films that led to his success, Armstrong now finds himself pioneering a novel household enterprise. He met his spouse, Wendy Leech, daughter of famed stuntman George Leech, whereas they have been each engaged on the primary “Superman” film in 1978. Armstrong was Christopher Reeves’ stunt double, sporting thin cables and hovering over 20-foot drops for the flying scenes, and Wendy doubled Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane.
“Wendy’s the one girl to kill James Bond in a Bond movie,” Armstrong said, pointing to a scene in “By no means Say By no means Once more,” when Bond tears by means of the jungle in a mission to rescue a captive, solely to be stabbed to death by the very girl he set out to save. “Of course the scene seems to be a ‘test train,'” he added. “However nonetheless! That’s spectacular.”
The “solely lady to kill James Bond” and Armstrong have 4 kids collectively, three of whom additionally work full time in stunts, whereas the fourth, Georgina, is a champion horse jumper aiming for a profession as an action star.
And then there’s Armstrong’s brother, Andy, a stuntman and stunt coordinator in his personal right, and Andy’s son, James, who additionally works in stunts.
“We’re a household affair, the Armstrong Motion Workforce!” he said, laughing. “We work collectively as a lot as we will.”
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Armstrong and his Motion Crew’s mark has permeated a few of the perfect-identified motion movies of the previous few many years. Consider an motion film you want and, almost certainly, Vic Armstrong had one thing to do with it.
That Aston Martin chase along the ice in “Die One other Day ” Armstrong. The manic bug assaults in “Starship Troopers ” Armstrong. The helicopter scene at the end of “Charlie’s Angels ” Armstrong. The bar brawl in “Terminator 2 ” You get the idea.
He is embodied some of essentially the most iconic heroes in film historical past, legends like the aforementioned James Bond, Superman and Indiana Jones. He’s labored as a stunt coordinator or second unit director for Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, JJ Abrams, George Lucas, Terry Gilliam and Steven Spielberg, among many others. Most recently, he directed the action sequences for “Thor,” “The Green Hornet,” “Salt” and “I’m Legend.” He is the only stuntman to receive a BAFTA award for Lifetime Achievement.
And he only got into this complete stuntman factor by accident. The son of an Olympic horse trainer, Armstrong grew up in stables, hitting over 20 completely different faculties all through his childhood as he hopped from Kenya to Glasgow to England. His lifelong dream was to be a steeplechase jockey, racing horses professionally, however when a household friend needed someone to wrangle horses on set for “Arabesque,” the 1966 movie starring Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck, Armstrong got here along as a stunt rider.
“It was 20 pounds a day,” Armstrong remembers. “That was a whole lot of money. I used to be in heaven.”
Armstrong now finds himself directing a few of the biggest special results motion sequences of our time. He’s currently working, along with his Action Crew in tow, as second unit director on “The Wonderful Spider-Man,” in manufacturing in New York and Los Angeles. His aim is to find an ideal balance of pc graphics (CG) and real-time flying.
“What I don’t love is when CG turns into the whole point of the film,” he stated. “You are not making a cartoon.”
As part of his work on “Spider-Man,” Armstrong coordinated a multi-million greenback flying sequence with a crew of lots of. During the scene, Spiderman, played by Andrew Garfield in the film, flies along five city blocks in upper Manhattan, swooping by archways and between buildings, sporting intricate cables that shall be erased throughout put up-manufacturing. Armstrong hopes it is going to be some of the spectacular flight sequences in film historical past.
“Look: I love CG, supplied you utilize it right,” Armstrong mentioned. “Morphine is an excellent drug if it’s used appropriately, but when it is used an excessive amount of, you get addicted. It’s a killer; it defeats the whole object of its being.”
Armstrong famous that laptop graphics allow stunt people to use pads and cables they would never have been ready to use before, since they used to look too bulky onscreen. Gone are the times when a stuntman needed to leap 30 feet out of a transferring helicopter onto a mountainside with no padding (as Armstrong himself did for the 1970 caper, “Figures in a Landscape,”) as a result of now you possibly can simply “airbrush all that stuff out.”
If CG existed when Armstrong was an up-and-comer, he might have prevented the 125-foot slide down a volcano in “You Only Live Twice,” his catapult right into a mighty atom shirt windshield in “Superman II” or the one hundred-foot leap from the viaduct in “Omen III.”
“I remember standing atop that viaduct, trying all the way down to the ground below,” he said. “I’d simply purchased a new Mercedes and all I used to be pondering was: ‘I will by no means drive that automotive again.'”
Within the introduction to Armstrong’s autobiography, Steven Spielberg lauds Armstrong’s expertise and courageousness, raving, “no CGI can match what Vic can accomplish.”
Although he remains a stuntman in his heart and soul, Armstrong is now an accomplished director as well, having created movies like “Joshua Tree” and a few installments of the “Younger Indiana Jones” sequence. He hopes to helm more movies in the years to come.
But his storied previous involves life every time he hits the safety line at the airport. The steel plate in his shoulder, a results of an damage he sustained while filming “Mary Queen of Scots,” and one other one in his shin, from a damaged bone he incurred in Morocco while engaged on “Mohammed: Messenger of God,” serve as constant reminders of his roots.