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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Double or nothing: Meet Hollywood stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton

The Briton was on a recent visit to Dubai on a working holiday, looking for sponsorship opportunities to go with his work in the United States as the face of the Dove Men+ Care campaign.
Bobby Holland Hanton was a double for Daniel Craig’s Bond in Quantum of Solace and is in a chase scene in Spectre. Alex Atack for The National
Bobby Holland Hanton was a double for Daniel Craig’s Bond in Quantum of Solace and is in a chase scene in Spectre. Alex Atack for The National

James Bond fans will have seen Bobby Holland Hanton in 007’s three most-recent big-screen adventures – they just probably don’t realise it.

“I was Daniel Craig’s stunt double in Quantum of Solace,” says the Briton during a recent visit to Dubai. He was in the emirate on a working holiday, looking for sponsorship opportunities to go with his work in the United States as the face of the Dove Men+ Care campaign.

While he has been in other box-office hits – including Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), in which he doubled for Christian Bale’s Batman, Marvel movies including Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which he was a double for Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Evans’s Captain America – he says his part in the recently released Bond movie Spectre stands out for its chase scene.

“This time round I wasn’t [Craig’s] personal double, but I was part of the chase sequence shot in Austria,” he says. “I was there for seven weeks shooting it, and it’s the biggest chase sequence I’ve ever taken part in.

“I was a passenger in a second Land Rover – the one that gets totalled by the plane with Bond in it. We had a Russian stunt driver, Martin Ivanov driving. He’s one of the best. It was pretty white knuckle – we just had to trust him.

“We were driving right on the edge of huge drops, being chased by a plane, and if you go over... well, that’s it.”

Hanton has been a professional stuntman for eight years, following a career as a gymnast that came to an end at the age of 17 when he grew too tall for many of the events.

Aside from his Bond work, he says some of his most memorable moments have come while working for director Nolan.

“Nolan’s an absolute genius,” he says. “I’ve loved him right back to the Memento days, before I was even working in the industry. The way he shoots and does things is genius and it’s a real honour to work with him and be part of that team.”

A highlight of his work with Nolan was a stunt from The Dark Knight Rises, when Bruce Wayne climbs to freedom from a deep prison pit.

“Yeah, that was me climbing out of the pit prison in The Dark Knight, after Bruce Wayne has broken his back. That was a 100-foot drop,” he says. “I’d love to work with Christopher Nolan again.”

Another favourite scene is from Quantum of Solace.

Quantum was my first-ever stunt job, when I was 23,” he says. “My first stunt as a pro was at 2am in Panama. Bond is in the bar with Felix and the SWAT team are about to burst in. I had to run upstairs, turn the corner and jump off the balcony, with no cables or safety below, three stories up – that was my introduction to my new job.

“We’d rehearsed it all with safety [equipment], and I felt – and my boss, Gary Powell, one of best stunt coordinators in world, felt – I could do it without [the equipment] for a better shot. It’s faster and more real without, that’s why we prepare for so long – to eliminate the danger.

“I was only booked for five weeks on that job originally, but I ended up doing six months.”

Hanton’s future projects include HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones, and Marvel’s Thor: Ragnorok and the two Avengers: Infinity War films.

It’s no surprise to learn he’s picked up the occasional injury along the way.

“I did have a bad back injury in New Orleans working on Green Lantern,” he says. “It was just one of those things. We had to do a jump, where I landed and had to slide when I landed, so we had to do it onto concrete as I wouldn’t be able to slide on mats. I’d rehearsed at least 15 times, then when it came to it I ruptured two discs, slipped my vertebrae and paralysed the front of my leg for about five weeks.

“I went to Dallas for an operation, and one per cent of people that have that particular operation get a disc and bone infection. I was one of the unlucky one per cent. I was on IV drips for a couple of weeks to clear the infection, and it took me more than a year to get back to health.

“I was physically in a bad way but I really hadn’t prepared for how bad it was mentally. A lot of people said I wouldn’t come back. My first neurosurgeon said I’d never do my job again. Luckily I got a second opinion and he said he’d get me back to full fitness. I went with him. I wasn’t ready to give in, and you just have to learn from these experiences and take the positives.”

With all the rumours circulating about Craig’s future as Bond, can his double shed any light on theactor’s 007 days are over?

“I think Daniel’s contracted for one more film,” he says. “So who knows? I’m sure the fans would love to see more, but I can’t say for sure. That’s down to Daniel and the producers.”

You can watch Bobby Holland Hanton’s work at www.bobbyhollandhanton.com

cnewbould@thenational.ae