When it comes to passing out bruises on the set of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, in-demand stuntman and real-life superhero Bobby Holland Hanton claims the lion’s share. So what is it that keeps one of the most important pieces of the filmish puzzle – whose CV boasts such impressive gigs as : doubling for Daniel Craig’s 007 on “Quantum of Solace” and doppleganging Chris Hemsworth on “Thor : The Dark World”- coming back for more? 100% Pure Adrenaline!
Another role that Hanton recently ‘threw’ himself into is that of a Dove Men+Care expert/spokesperson. After doubling for others day in-day out for many years, in 2012 Hanton landed a role playing himself as a spokesperson for the brand.
In this exclusive interview, Ashleigh Davies talks to making the transition from the gym to the movie set, the rewarding life of a stuntman, and his upcoming work on “The Avengers : Age of Ultron” and “Heart of the Sea”.
Being a stunt double is not a particularly common job. How did you get into it?
I actually grew up a gymnast and when I was forced to retire due to my height, I decided to train to qualify as a stuntman through a series of skills like Kickboxing, Swimming, Trampolining, Scuba Diving and Gymnastics. I received a call out of the blue asking if I would like audition to double Daniel Craig on Quantum of Solace in 2008. It was a dream come true. I went in for four or five vigorous exercise auditions; six weeks turned into six months, and I’ve never looked back.
What do you like best about your job?
I love the thrill of it. As I mentioned, growing up an athlete I love adrenaline and constant activity – and this job definitely offers that. I am also very grateful for all the relationships I have formed and actors/actresses I have had the privilege of working with.
You’ve worked on some of Hollywood’s biggest films and you’ve stepped in for some big names including Christian Bale as Batman, Daniel Craig as James Bond and recently Channing Tatum in the soon-to-be-released Jupiter Ascending. How closely do you work with the actors you double for and have you learnt anything from them that’s helped you throughout your career?
Yes, we work very close with the actor’s day in and day out for the best part of the movie. I have always found the actors I’ve doubled to be so professional and incredibly talented physically themselves. They work and train so hard to achieve what they do.
Tell me, who was best to work with and why?
I have had the privilege of working with a lot of great actors. Channing Tatum was a great guy. Chris Hemsworth is wonderful and has actually become a close friend. After working with him on Thor 2, I have continued working with him on several movies – including Heart of the Sea and Avengers: Age of Ultron. We work great together and have formed a great relationship.
Do you have a favourite project/film you’ve worked on? What is it and why did you enjoy working on it?
That’s a tough question, however I would have to say The Dark Knight Rises given the stature of the movie; doubling Batman the team, the actors, the director, the locations, everything about that movie was stand out. I’d also have to say Quantum of Solace with that being my first ever movie doubling James Bond and working with one of the best stunt teams and boss out there. Thor 2 and Avengers 2 are huge marvel movies so they were extremely fun and it helped having a great Relationship with Chris throughout those.
Do you have a favourite scene/sequence you’ve filmed over your career? Have there been any that were particularly difficult to do?
One of my favourite stunts I have ever achieved would have to be the 100 foot high fall in The Dark Knight Rises – when I doubled Christian Bale. Another would have to be the scene in Quantum of Solace where I was jumping from building rooftop to building rooftop, very high in the air.
Your job must be pretty dangerous. Have you ever had any severe injuries or close calls?
I had a terrible back injury, which ended in surgery a few years back; it was no fun at all. I have been lucky enough to not have sustained any extensive injuries in recent years, thank goodness!
Do you ever get nervous before doing a scene? What sort of stunts make you most nervous and how do you deal with that anticipation?
Yes, definitely. There is always that element of being nervous and having fear about something that may be new to you or it being a big stunt but that quickly turns into adrenaline; that’s where I get my buzz. Whether it be a 100ft up in the air, jumping around rooftops, or being set on fire – every day is a new day and there is always so much to learn.
I’d imagine your work involves a lot of physical challenges and requires you to stay extremely fit. How do you train for this? Do you have to train differently leading up to different roles?
Maintaining a strict balance between diet and exercise is important. With my background as a gymnast, I prefer body weight workouts, circuit and cardio. You can throw in the weight training when necessary here and there to bulk up in certain areas – but for the most part, in order to sustain a lean and fit build, press-ups, chin-ups, those sorts of workouts are best. For Thor however, I was working out twice a day for nearly 9 months, with heavy weights and a lot of protein mixed in with my diet – because Chris is huge. For Quantum of Solace I was doing a lot of cardio to slim down and stay lean.
You’ve done a lot of work in superhero films. Avengers: Age of Ultron will be released next year in which you double for both Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America. What’s it like being involved in such a highly anticipated film? Is it one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments or are you able to soak it all in pretty easily?
Yes, definitely. It really is a dream come true… It’s going to be the biggest movie in history I hope! And to double 2 huge superhero’s in one movie was a massive achievement for me especially the changing size physically in such a short period of time! The movie is full of action as I am sure you can imagine so I am very much looking forward to it being released.
And here’s the ultimate question: Captain America or Thor? Who do you prefer playing? And who would win in a battle?
Both were remarkable to double – lots of fun. That question is a tricky one as they are very different and have different skill sets. I don’t think they would ever really battle each other in that way (ha, ha!). Very hard question to answer, but all I can say is that I was just very lucky to double the both of them!