James Bond turns 50: Skyfall may be best film yet

Ben Collins, The Stig from 'Top Gear,' discusses signature stunts and why he considered pushing the red button. Photo: Sony Pictures

WASHINGTON, November 9, 2012 — James Bond looks good for fifty. Sure, 007 has a had little work done over the years but who in Hollywood hasn’t. Since his first appearance in Dr. No the world has changed, audiences have changed but the excitement for the franchise is bigger than ever.  

Rotten Tomatoes has given Skyfall a 93% rating and some critics are calling it the best the franchise has ever produced. With Sam Mendes directing and a cast that includes Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem it lives up to the hype. 

What makes the film exceptional though is the attention to detail, how it alludes to the rich history of the films and pushes the envelope with incredible stunts. 

The Aston Martin DB5 is the signature Bond car. First appearing in Goldfinger it as iconic as how Bond orders a martini. That kind of car, the kind of stunts performed in the film required the best stunt driver in the business. It required Ben Collins, known to most in the public as The Stig from Top Gear and to the industry as the best at his craft. Ben has coached hundreds of celebrities from Tom Cruise to Daniel Craig around the race-track, organised high voltage car chases and tested hundreds of priceless cars to the brink.

With great cars and a great franchise comes great responisbility. Collins was trusted to take the stunt driving to another level and succeeded. He paints a tremendous picture of his experience with the film and his tongue-in-cheek answers are a must read.  

Are you tired of giving interviews?

NO. I love it. Always nice to talk about a cool movie. 

Were you a fan of James Bond? What is your favorite film?

I remember watching it with my Dad on the sofa, from Sean Connery on. View To A Kill. The crazy snowboarding bit in the beginning, car crashes and gets smashed in half, Bond jumps on to a boat. What’s not to like?

Describe life on set. Best/worst moment?

  A lot of waiting. Stunt crews have to wait for their part. It’s the nature of the beast. The best part though was riving a brand new Jaguar through the streets of London, driving through wrong-way traffic. We spent two months in Turkey. There were long periods of time. All worth it when you see the final footage. 

Describe the Aston Martin DB5 for those of us who may never experience it.

It’s cool. The polar opposite of the DBS. The DBS is so agile it’s border line dangerous. V12, 500 horsepower. I was entertained the whole time. Phenomenal grip. The DB5 is like driving a boat. The seatbelt doesn’t kind of work. It’s more of a suggestion than something real. It’s comfortable enough to use as a bed. Plus, I was driving an original from the Bond films. It has plenty of horsepower for those skinny wheels. 

Explain the gadgets? Did you press the red button?

No. Thought about it. As often as men think about sex. Probably my main regret. 

What was the most challenging scene?

I was driving a Land Rover, in Istanbul, from the roof. Daniel and Naomi underneath me. Alex Whitt, assistant director, strapped to the side. Went around a train at 45 miles per hour, skidding around a corner without killing him. 

How does this compare to your experience with Top Gear? 

So different. I loved working and testing all those super cars with a small team. It was guerilla filming and we could get away with murder. Crazy locations. Great times. Crew of six.

On Bond, it was a crew of 300. Huge build up comes to one run past camera, one chance. Sometimes you don’t get multiple takes. it comes down to lighting, time of day, variables. It was an incredible collection of stunt talent. Lee Morrsion is a stunt legend on a bike. 

The team is so good at what they do. The scale makes me be proud to be part of it.

How is to work with Daniel Craig?

On Quantum of Solace I trained Daniel. I have never seen somebody take on so many remote skills. It helps that he is naturally passionate about the cars. He loved the DB5. Drove all the vehicles with us. Very brave boy. Love working with Daniel. Can’t wait to watch Skyfall. The stunts fit well with the film. 


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Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has previously written for Mashable and The Detroit Free Press. 



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