Bobby Holland Hanton has been professional stuntman for over a decade. His career began on the set of ‘Quantum of Solace’. Since then he has worked on number of movie hits. Find them all on his website.
Piotr Zajac (bondlocations): You have started your career as stuntmen in film industry from James Bond film – ‘Quantum of Solace’. How do you remember that time?
Bobby Holland Hanton: To jump into high level and work with such a great team, great stunt coordinator and learn very fast on my feet was a great experience. I’ve kind of used that throughout my career today.
How did you get to ‘Quantum of Solace’?
I went for the audition. I had a couple of meetings with the team. I had some photos taken showing my stunt reel at the time. Then I had a couple of physical auditions. It was a process of about five auditions. I got a call to come in and stunt double for James Bond. I think originally it was for five weeks and ended up being six months. Gary Powell, the stunt coordinator, kept me on for the whole show and I ended up doing a lot more sequences than I was originally supposed to do. I was very lucky in that aspect.
Your first stunt ever on film set was jumping in Panama.
Yes. The Panama jump from balcony to balcony was my first introduction to the film industry and to the stunts especially at that kind of level. I mean the highest level to go in. It was 2 a.m. in a morning. Three storeys up. It was the balcony jump with one to the other of a distance around 7 meters. I was jumping from high to low. It wasn’t massive distance but it was enough to get that distance of 7 meters for the jump. There were no safety cables, no safety mats just due to the fact that camera angle was over my shoulder. Once I left they wanted to follow me as much as they could. They wanted to pan down and see the street. There couldn’t be any safety so it was a hair raising introduction.
Did you do any rehearses in Pinewood Studios before the actual jump?
Yes, this is exactly what we did. In Pinewood Studios we rehearsed on stage at floor level. We had the exact measurements and dimensions of the actual jump and the balcony. We did it at floor level first to make sure that the distance was achievable. Once I’ve done it at that distance Gary Powell said: ‘Listen, you can do it at floor level, that is fine, but make sure that you are prepared to do it at high level and don’t freeze, because the last thing you want is to freeze up there when you’re three storeys up and you’ve got no safety to protect you’. So it was psychological battle. It was a challange I was very much up for doing. I felt like massive point approved being so young at my first job and I was quite lucky that I had background in gymnastics. I did a lot of jumping and springing, a little bit of long jump. I knew that it was a skill of mine that worked well and I did a big jump. We went to rehearse it in Panama. We built a scaffolding and put some safety to make sure that it was durable. So it was all done in a safe process. We wanted to make it as safe as possible, because what we were doing could be very dangerous. I rehearsed that twice with the safety. Once it was done Gary said: ‘OK guys, that is early day, we are done. We come to shoot in the evening’. We executed it twice and we went home. I was very, very happy young man.
It was not your only stunt performance in that movie.
I was at similar height and build to Neil Jackson, the actor that Bond fights in the room with knife, so I was fighting againts Daniel and Ben Cooke. I did that fight. I helped with some of the fights and shot some of the fight sequences there. I was supposed to go home after those six weeks, but Gary turned to me and said: ‘You are going straight to Siena for five weeks and do the rooftop sequence there’. I went there and I did it. After that I went to Pinewood Studios to finish up the movie for a further three or two and a half months. I met some very close friends of mine to this day on that show, on that team and some inspirational people and some people who helped me very much long away learning the craft and learning the skill though.
When I was in Siena I was looking for the balconies but I couldn’t find them. Now I know that they were built on scaffoldings just for the movie.
Lots of the location was practical. It was the actual beautiful architecture that has been there for many years. They’ve added the element of set built to work for the story and added a few little pieces in, so we could make a travel distance longer and more exciting than the actual, original.
When you were jumping from the roofs it looked like you’ve damaged parts of them, but I’m sure that were just some props.
Yes, exactly. It was part of the set really. There was a lot of set built that went into it which would have taken the crew a lot of time to get it to the level it did and make to look as realistic as it did. They did a fantastic job. Gary and the director wanted the tiles to break away in part of the sequence to add that element of danger. Bond sliding down and maybe slipping off the roof had obviously added to that high octaine chase sequence. The adrenaline rush that even the audience will get from being bumped on the edge of seats. What is gonna happen here is very dangerous and obviously adds a hudge element to the sequence. Yes, there were a lot of set builts and a lot of props and broken tiles, but it was stuff set and ready to break on impact. As you can see in the sequence it was done very well.
I’ve seen on some photos from the set that you had special shoes in Siena, not as elegant as 007 usually wears.
I had a couple of sets of shoes. There were the set shoes that were the actual shoes that you would wear with the suit. The actual James Bond costume shoes if the camera was shooting a bit tighter they would have to use them. We also had a pair of completely black lightweight running trainers with grip so we could actually run, jump and use them to be able to perform the stunt to the highest standard that we needed to make the sequence work. As I’ve found throught my career in all the films I worked on, that there are good few pairs of footwear and different kinds and styles of costumes to make things work.
In which sequences you were performing in Pinewood Studios after filming in Siena?
When I went back to Pinewood it was coming to the end of the film. I did some pick up shots of the gallery sequence on the ropes. We did the film credits with silhouettes. I was on rotational harness looking like falling through the credits. It was more of pick up stuff that we had to do to make the scenes linked together as smoothly and simultanously as possible. Big stuff for me was in Panama and in Siena.
Could you tell something about your performances in ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Spectre’?
For ‘Skyfall’ I was in Turkey for six weeks and a few days back in England. It was more helping up with the stunt team. I did a little bit of driving in Turkey. For ‘Spectre’ I played small part in one of the vehicles that we shot in Austria. We were part of that big chase sequence in the snow when the plane came down and was tapping at the top of the car. That was a great experience and nice to play a small part in that. It is always nice to work on a Bond movie at any capacity.
Can you tell more about the chase sequence in Austria, about the preparations for that sequence?
A lot of time goes into the preparation with that type of thing because it is an action sequence that could potentially be very dangerous. It is dangerous. It needs to be done in a right way, organized and with people not rushing. A lot of time needs to be spent on it. We were heading in Land Rover towards a real plane on cables. It was smashing the top of the roof at some pace. If you imagine traveling at some speed towards it and the plane coming back that way you are actually doubling that speed. I’m not gonna lie but there was a few times we were quite hairy. ‘Wow, that was close’. It was well rehearsed, it was set up very safely by everyone who was invloved and it went well. It adds the element of excitement, danger and adrenaline and that is what they are looking for and they keep raising the bar.
How the scene like the one with the airplane smashing through the building was filmed? I guess that there were not many takes?
Yes. You do dry runs. You basically rehearse it as many times as you need to make you confident that it is going to work on a day. I think we must have done it two times, because they could rebuilt it twice.
How was it to work with Daniel Craig?
He is great, he is great athlete. He has put his heart and soul to James Bond franchise. He is probably the best of all time really. He has changed the franchise as far as the Bond character in that kind of gritty kind of organic and it feels very real which is great. He has definitely done an amazing service for the franchise and he is such a nice guy.
We couldn’t see you in the latest Bond movie: ‘No Time to Die’.
Lee Morrison, very good friend of mine whom I met on ‘Quantum of Solace’ was the stunt coordinator for ‘No Time to Die’ and he actually did call me and asked me to do a sequence, but I couldn’t do it. I had back surgery at the beginning of last year. I was out for good amount of time so timewise it didn’t work. That was unfortunate because I would have loved to be able to work on it, to be able to work on all of them since I’ve started, but I had to put my health and safety first. I wasn’t physically ready to be doing anything of that kind of caliber. Unfortunately it didn’t work out but you never no, hopefully the next one comes around. Who knows. It is always an honour to work on a stunt movies, for Bond.
How can you summarize your Bond experiences?
I obviously remember my first experience in ‘Quantum of Solace’, being so young, 23, my first job and being thrown in the deep. It was huge learning curve for me. It was kind of like a deer in headlights, to be honest, because you kind of learn as you go being on your toes all the time ready to go for anything. It was definitely a way to learn for sure. ‘Skyfall’ was very different for me, I didn’t have as much pressure as being Bond double. I’ve already done a few films by then and I was a little bit relaxed, but not too relaxed as the industry is dangerous. ‘Spectre’ was again different experience for me because I played a small part. It was great to see that side of the film industry. In James Bond films you feel special process of the film making.
Was it something special for you to be involved in Bond franchise?
I’ve been a big fan of Bond growing up and watching them all as a kid and into my early teens and late teens and early adulthood. Being part of that is something that not many people can say they’ve done and done at the highest level with the best people and with the best team. It is an honour.
What is your favourite James Bond stunt?
The crane sequence in ‘Casino Royale’. The parkour sequence on the crane was phenomenal. It was the first one that Daniel did. That was the first one that Gary Powell was in charge of and I think he changed the industry in that kind of aspect. The crane sequence is amazing to watch.
Which of your stunts do you remember as one of your most dangerous in your career? Is it the jump in Panama in ‘Quantum of Solace’?
I think that this particulat stunt is still one of stand out stunts in my career today, 13 years ago, because it was a big jump with no safety, no cables and all the elements that went with that – being my first time, being so young. It is something that is very memorable for me and it will be memorable for the rest of my life. I’m very proud of it, that I could do something of that standard as an opening for my career.
Thank you for telling me all that great stories from your Bond experience.
Online interview, May 19th 2020