Vic Armstrong Interview, the real legend in stunts industry
He began working in film in 1966, landing his first job due to his unique background racing steeplechase horses. By 1968 he had moved on to stunt-coordinating and by 1980 was working as a second-unit director. He was one of the first British stuntmen to make the transition from stuntman to director, a path blazed earlier by such greats as Yakima Kanut and Hal Needham. Along with the above mentioned films, Vic Armstrong has 2nd Unit Directed Blade: Trinity, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Four Feathers, Charlie’s Angels, The World is Not Enough and Tomorrow Never Dies to name a few. And here is our interview with a long-time stunt professional and icon Vic Armstrong, whose work has contributed to numerous blockbuster. Enjoy!
Budomate: Mr. Armstrong, probably the first film what I saw with you was Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1987, but back in those days I knew nothing about stuntmen and how it can be dangerous. Please tell how did you come up with an idea to become a stuntman?
Vic Armstrong: I first wanted to be a stuntman when I was a little kid about 9 years old and used to play cowboys and Indians and used o pretend to be shot and throw myself from my pony
Budomate: You started your career doubling Gregory Peck in Stanley Donen’s “Arabesque”, but it is always interesting how people of your profession feel themselves first day on the sets? Do you remember what did you thinking about?
Vic Armstrong: I was very nervous on my first day and did not know anything about how I should act or what I should do, should I just do everything the director asked or should I suggest something else etc
Budomate: In his interview Jackie Chan once said that when he is going to do some trick his heart is beating, he is sweating and thinking “OMG, what I am doing, am I crazy?”. Is it always this way for you?
Vic Armstrong: I am glad even Jackie Chan feels like that, I was always nervous and agitated and thinking I wish this was over, why am I doing this? I thought it was just me thinking like that.
Budomate: Do you have a mentor or maybe a very good friend in your life, who helped you on your way in stunt coordination?
Vic Armstrong: I had a friend called Jimmy Lodge that got me started in the stunt business and he taught me a lot then later I had another great friend called Ken Buckle that taught me even more about working on big epic films with lots of horses and how to teach the horses to fall etc You always need a mentor in this business
Budomate: Please tell did you ever practise martial arts professionally and what style it was?
Vic Armstrong: I only ever did boxing but I watch a lot of martial arts and like Muay Thai very much
Budomate: You worked on the James Bond films, please tell some outstanding moment on the sets which made people think that your work is very dangerous?
Vic Armstrong: that is a difficult question, one exciting time was being being a Ninja on You Only Live Twice sliding down the ropes for 40 meters other times were jumping the horse into the sea on Never say Never Again and then directing the boat Chase on The World is Not enough.
Budomate: You became a Stunt Coordinator on the 1968 British film Figures In The Landscape and continuing with epics Superman films. Please tell what is the difference between stuntman and stunt coordinator and how your skills helped?
Vic Armstrong: and stuntman is employed to perform the stunts a stunt coordinator is employed to work out how the stunt is going to be performed he has to be responsible for the safety of the stuntman and he employs the stuntman to do the stunt and also he decides how to break the stunt down into edits
Budomate: Most of famous stunt coordinator has got their teams or people who they prefer to work with, because it is safely and save time on the sets. Do you have your own team and have you ever met or worked with JC Stunts Team?
Vic Armstrong: I have my team of stunt people that I vary depending on what sort of stunts are need for a certain production but I usually have the same guys around me. I have never worked with the JC team but I have used stuntmen that have worked for JC.
Budomate: Back in 80s you worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Conan the Destroyer. What can you say about young Arnold? And do you expect something new from Conan remake with James Mamoa?
Vic Armstrong: Arnold was and is a fantastic guy, he has guts and humour and is as tough as anybody you will ever meet, I had great fun with him at work and after work and he is a great trainer and motivator. I have seen nothing of the new Conan
Budomate: Also you worked with another action legend Sylvester Stallone on the Rambo 3. What is the difference in working on stunts with Stallone and Schwarzenegger? Have you seen The Expendables movie, what do you think about it?
Vic Armstrong: Arnold and Sly are very similar guys to work with both are extremely professional and motivated and knowledgable. I saw the Expendables and liked it but thought it looked a little dated.
Budomate: Another action legend who made martial arts movies very popular is Jean Claude van Damme, you worked with him on the sets of Universal Soldier. I know that movie has got 2 different endings, but can you tell why producers decided to choosed first over another? And was it easy to work with Jean and Dolph?
Vic Armstrong: I have no idea why they chose the ending they did I guess they knew what market they were targeting, Dolph and Jean Claude were good to work with because I knew them both before.
Budomate: I really love Charlie’s Angels movie, seems you have got a lot of fun on the sets. Can you remember any funny moment and tell it to us?
Vic Armstrong: I remember working with Lucy Liu and she was firing the bow and arrow n the back of a ford bronco and she let the bow hand go instead of the arrow and hit herself in the head with the bow, she was greta fun as were all the girls it was a fun shoot.
Budomate: Your last james Bond movie was Die Another Day in 2002. What can you say about actors, do you have your favourite actor who played 007 better on your opinion? I really like the way of James Bond now, he became more powerful, tough and full of drive with Daniels Craig, what do you think about that?
Vic Armstrong: I prefer Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery was great because he was the first, Casino Royal was a much better Bond film the Quantam of Solace which did not feel like as Bond.
Budomate: In 1993 I saw your directorial debut with Joshua Tree movie. Why did you choose Dolph Lundgren fro you first movie? Did you enjoy directing the movie yourself and way you like?
Vic Armstrong: I had to have Dolph because he was valuable in foreign sales. I really enjoyed directing the film and being in total charge it is the best.
Budomate: You worked on different movie genres, but what is your favourite one and what is your favourite movie?
Vic Armstrong: I have to say I like the Indiana Jones Trilogy to have worked on but Bond is also one of my favourite genres so I have to say both genres are my favourite
I loved shooting the Green Horne and we did some great care chases, I thought the editing was a bit strange and did not do the car chases complete justice
Budomate: Now you work on the next part of Spider Man movie, I know that Richard Norton in it too, do you know him personally and how did you meet him?
Vic Armstrong: I id not meet Ed Norton on Spiderman I met him on Green Hornet and he was great to work with. Andrew Garfield is Spiderman
Budomate: Can you pick out somebody as a very promising stunt coordinator, who can bring something new in stunts?
Vic Armstrong: there are many young coordinators out there my son Scott and my nephew James are starting to coordinate bow and I think they have some great new ideas to bring to the game
Budomate: And own traditional question: which 3 martial arts movies made in US you can call a classic for today?
Vic Armstrong: I have no idea what has been shot in the US my favourite martial arts movie that can be called a classic was made in Thailand and is ONG BAK.
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