What do Superman, Indiana Jones and James Bond have in common? Vic Armstrong. To celebrate the release of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, we had an opportunity to chat Vic about his amazing career, taking the hits for our cinematic heroes.
You’ve worked with many directors coordinating stunt scenes. Which director would you say has been the most “action oriented” and why?
Steven Spielberg was very action orientated in the old days and Paul Verhoeven is very much into his action. Rob Cohen was also very easy to talk stuntwork to and he understood the physicality of it all. Ken Branagh was very good as well and I would explain the pros and cons of something and he would pick it up straight away.
Have you ever met an analyst that can ride a motorcycle the way Jack Ryan did in Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit?
No but when we shot the movie Ken was adamant that Jack Ryan was not to look like a super hero in his action and fights etc. So when we discussed the motor cycle sequence we decided that it was something that normal people can do as the testament to that is the amount of bikes that scream past when you are on the freeway etc and all these are ridden by normal people not just the Barry Sheens of this world, so we figured it might be one indulgence that he has that is relatively inexpensive and is a mode of transport that anybody COULD learn to do well.
Which stunt scene in the film was your favorite in terms of edge of your seat excitement?
I liked the moment he discovered how the bomb was going to be planted by the guy in the SWAT van. I did feel he acted in an original way and it all seemed credible and he even did drop his bike at the end.
What other action hero does this new iteration of JACK RYAN most resemble?
I guess even with our efforts to make him an ordinary guy. I do think Jack Ryan/Chris Pine could go on and be a Bourne type action hero.
You’ve worked with so many actors known for being tough, who is the toughest?
That in itself is tough, Harrison has worked through physical pain with his back etc, Chris Pine cracked a finger tip and carried on and only went to hospital that night and then carried on the fight the next day. Chris said he didn’t want to look a wimp in front of me, but I knew how much pain he was in. Arnold is a hard man I have seen him get thrown from a horse which then trampled on him and he was just wearing a fur loin cloth. He got straight up and we disinfected the cuts and he did the shot again. Tom Cruise took some amazing hard hits on MI:3 like the one on the bridge when an explosion blows him into a car and smashes the windows. He did that shot at least 3 times and they were hard hits.
Considering your history with JJ Abrams and Harrison Ford, have you had any conversations about working on ‘Star Wars VII’?
I would have loved to have worked on the new Star Wars, but life and time moves on and they have a fantastic crew that will make the best film that is possible. I am directing my own films now so I am very content. We are all good friends still which is the most important.
Any great stories from your time in Australia during shooting of The Phantom?
Actually we shot the Phantom in Thailand. We did a have lovely Australian crew though. I did shoot the Great Raid in Australia up on the Gold Coast and had a wonderful time. The Aussie crews like to work hard and party hard so we were kindred spirits and my great stunt friend Chris Anderson was my stunt coordinator and we played golf every day we could. It was a wonderful place and I want to come back so badly.
Is there a franchise that you’re keen to get involved in?
I have been working on a TV show in Ireland called “Penny Dreadful” with my friend Tim Dalton and Josh Hartnett and the incredibly lovely Eva Green. It was such fun and a fantastic production and my old mate Pete Miles was my stunt coordinator. It would be a franchise, if it is picked up, I would love to do more on.
As a veteran of the golden age of stunt work in cinema, are there any particular moves/stunts that make you nervous?
I hate high falls and fire jobs. They are so dreadfully final if the slightest thing goes wrong. All stunts are dangerous but those two are horrible.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit debuted digitally in Australia on May 14 and on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on May 21.