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“ We smash buildings, wreck cars - it's great! ”

Simon Crane on T3

The 14 million stuntman

Thu 24 Jul 2003 | 20h23 GMT+1
Info: reported of a UK stuntman and we present the full Mirror article from their news.

A Gigantic 100-tonne crane thunders down a street destroying everything in its path, smashing into glass buildings, flattening cars and overturning fire engines.

Costing approx. 15 million dollars and taking more than two months to film, the incredible stunt will leave Terminator fans in no doubt that Arnie is back.

It's one of the most explosive stunt sequences in movie history and it's all down to one British man, Simon Crane.

The 43-year-old from Twickenham, Middlesex, trained to be a lawyer. Since dropping out of law school to join the circus in 1979, he has become one of the most respected stunt co-ordinators in the industry.

Even with a blockbusting budget of 170 million dollars, Simon knew he had his work cut out when it came to making T3: Rise Of The Machines.

"I rewrote all the action sequences in T3," he says. "Arnie likes to get involved, he's physically very strong. In this chase sequence there's a moment where he's hanging from the hook of the crane as it turns a corner, swinging out to the side.

"There was no body double, Arnie did it all himself - he even put up almost a million pounds of his own money to ensure the scene made it into the final movie. He worked out every day on set, it was impressive."

Simon is one of the most experienced stuntmen in Hollywood. He was the double for Timothy Dalton as James Bond, Mel Gibson in Air America and Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

He oversaw the death-defying bungee jump off the side of a dam in James Bond's The World Is Not Enough and was involved in stunts in almost 40 other films including the sinking of James Cameron's Titanic and the Normandy beach landings in Saving Private Ryan.

But his love of T3 is obvious.

"We smash buildings, wreck cars - it's great" says Simon. In the furious high-speed chase sequence, the female T-X machine played by Kristanna Loken, is out to destroy mankind's future saviour John Connor. She drives the crane - which cost over a million dollars - though the streets of Los Angeles, destroying everything.

"It took 10 weeks to prepare for and six weeks to film," says Simon. "We were spending 270,000 to 375,000 dollars a day and that whole sequence cost nearly 15 million.

"We used 50 cars and had seven brand new Toyota trucks. On the first day we wrecked one of the trucks just seeing what it could do. As a joke, we took it to a garage and asked for a service - the Mexican mechanics didn't really get it.

"Arnie did about 70 per cent of the stunts. He likes to do all of them but our insurers don't," he laughs. "Often the stunts are too dangerous and it would be too expensive to risk one of our leads. The scenes where you see Arnie on a motorbike are really him. He loves it. For some of the more extreme manoeuvres we used a guy called Monte Perlin, one of the best."

Despite a highly experienced stunt crew, there were mishaps. "There was one little accident," says Simon.

"We'd been really putting the crane through its paces before we started filming. Then with just 10 days to go, things went wrong and the crane fell over and actually rolled twice. It ended up on its side and was totally written off. The driver was in the cage but everyone was fine. It was very scary.

"We had to get several other cranes to tip it back up and a company fixed it so it could be driven. But let's just say I don't think it will ever be a crane again."

THE scene was filmed on a quarter mile-long street set at a Boeing plant in California.

Fourteen cameras were used to shoot Arnie's character slamming into a glass building as he hangs from the arm of the crane. There could be no room for retakes.

And the final showdown between the Terminator and the T-X took four weeks to rehearse and two weeks to shoot. The machines wreak havoc in a marble bathroom.

The film-makers opted for old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat. "Kristanna had done some action on TV but nothing like this," says Simon. "So we were all surprised at how much punishment she could take. Arnie's a big guy, I think he was a bit nervous about hitting her. But Kristanna would say: 'It's OK, you can do that harder'."

Simon started his career after becoming bored while training to be a lawyer at London University.

"I hated every second so I joined the circus. I was in the circus for three years doing acrobatics because you need to be an instructor in six sports to get into stunts."

He gained his Equity card during his stunt training and qualified as an instructor in nine sports, including gymnastics, scuba diving, karate, skydiving and fencing.

He became stunt coordinator and eventually second unit director on films such as Total Recall.

As aerial stunt coordinator, he was the first man to abseil from one jet to another in mid-flight for Sylvester Stallone's Cliffhanger in 1993. But he almost came to grief. Buffeted by fierce winds 15,000ft up, he was forced to use his emergency parachute. "That one was special," he says. "Nothing like it had been done before. Once I was on the wire between the two planes, anything could have happened.

"The winds were unbelievably strong. I got to the door of the Jetstar and was trying to climb in when I suddenly ended up on the roof.'' He was forced to cut his link with the wire and go into free-fall.

State-of-the-art visual effects have enhanced T3's explosive stunt scenes to uncharted levels.

Director Jonathan Mostow is reported to have said: "It would not have been possible to make this movie even a year ago."

But to veterans like Simon, these are dirty words. "I don't believe the computer side should promote itself so much," he says. "We need to make it look as real as possible.

"And I think our movie will hold up - it's a good action flick."

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