Published on April 23rd, 2013 | by gareth0
We Talk Fast & Furious 6, The Lone Ranger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and More With Stunt Driver Robert Nagle
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Recently I spoke with Robert Nagle, who is a veteran stunt driver. His work includes Fast Five, Drive, The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher, and A Good Day to Die Hard. He is also set to appear in the highly anticipated Fast & Furious 6 and The Lone Ranger. Robert was kind enough to speak with us about his work and what we can expect from Fast & Furious 6 and hinted about what is to come in the Captain America Sequel
How did you get your start in the business and what was your first big break?
I met a very good friend of mine, Steve Kelso, a road racer who was already very well-established in the stunt world. We traded paint often and became good friends. He offered me one of my first jobs. Around the same time I met Michael Mann and developed a close relationship with him as well. I don’t think I had a “big break” per se, but rather a steady growth of performing on camera well and building relationships.
What type of prep do you do for each film and how much advance work goes into each stunt?
It really depends on the project and stunt. We often show up on set, go through what’s needed on the day of the stunt, and break down the details. Once everything’s sorted out, we shoot. A more complex stunt might require a complete rehearsal and test days or weeks ahead of time to sort out all the elements involved.
How has the digital age affected your work?
I think, if anything, it has made me more creative in developing ideas to deliver an action piece that is not CGI. I strongly believe your eye can tell the difference between live action and CGI—this can really take you out of the story. I do think CGI can be used very well to enhance certain elements, or in the case of “Total Recall,” build the world around us but keep the action real. Len Wiseman was very adamant about shooting the hover car chase with real cars and then adding the world around them—I applaud him for doing so.
How do you decide what is digital and what is a real stunt?
Ha! I wish I had a say in that decision. I’m very much in favor of combining both real and CGI elements.
With car chases being such a standard in films, how have you managed to keep the action in the Fast films fresh and original?
That accolade goes to Justin Lin, the director, and Spiro Razatos, the Second Unit Director (Action Director). Both of them have asked us to raise the bar.
What are the most dangerous stunts you have done and how many times have you been injured?
The most dangerous stunt I’ve done, besides battle LA traffic, was in Fast & Furious 6. We shot a scene on the Canary Islands along a mountain road that is basically closed to the public because of how precarious it is. On one side, the edge of the road drops off almost 1000 feet into the ocean. On the other, there’s a mountain with randomly falling rocks. They have these small stone blocks along the edge of the road that would probably only slow the car down enough for you to get a great view of the rocks and ocean below.
I had to chase Mark Higgins, a World Rally car Champion, and Ben Collins, the former STIG from Top Gear, several times over. Mark and Ben had been driving that road for a couple of days already. I was in a purpose-built high speed chase car with cameras mounted on the front. I had never driven the road or the car. Needless to say, I had to very much bring my “A” to run these guys down and make it look exciting on camera. We got that piece in one take.
I’ve been fortunate in that I have only broken my thumb in a stunt.
What were your biggest challenges for the film and the greatest triumphs?
I think the biggest challenge was understanding exactly what the director wanted to see and offering options or ideas that were meant to enhance what he was looking for. Walking away at the end of the day with a great piece of action on film is quite rewarding.
Did working on location present any new challenges?
We work on location 90% of the time these days. It can be hard on family life.
Since the Fast films have involved cars, guns, fights, and jumps Which type of stunts do you prefer and which are you least favorite?
I’m a complete car nut and I’m very handy with firearms as well. 95% of what I do is car related.
What do you have coming up that viewers can look forward to?
I just finished filming “Prisoners” with Jake Gyllenhaal. Denis Villeneuve was the director. Now we are in the early stages of preparing for “Captain America 2.”
If you had no restraints what is the one stunt you would love to do?
Actually we are in development of something that has never been done, it’s still pretty early but I will reach out to you once it’s a go – it will be really amazing!