My background’s in gymnastics, so you develop that fearlessness. From a small age, I was jumping around like a crazy boy. (Courtesy of Dove Men+Care)
The jury’s still out on whether superheroes are real —but we’re betting the odds on Spectre stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton, who was also the body double for the titular role in Thor. In the new James Bond film, released in the United States today, you can spot Hanton in the chase sequence in Austria, where he is a passenger in the car, speeding down a dangerously snowy road. “It was my first time being a passenger,” the former gymnast from Great Britain tells Yahoo Beauty. In Quantum of Solace, Hanton served as Daniel Craig’s James Bond stunt double did a balcony jump from three stories up in Panama without safety wires or cables. Hanton has won three SAG awards for his work in Skyfall, Inception, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, and holds a 2009 Guinness World Record for the most targets hit with a back somersault throw in one hour. Normally, his stunts require aggressive actions, like crashing onto the floor from a plane or getting hit by a chair — but while the 30-year-old stuntman is indeed a daredevil, that doesn’t mean he’s not cautious.
Jumping from balcony to balcony, knocking down flowerpots. (Courtesy of Dove Men+Care)
The physical training, from weightlifting to eating eight meals a day, is part of the job for stuntmen, and like many other types of performers, Hanton occasionally has to change his body for a role. “I desperately wanted to be Thor,” he says. “But I wasn’t the first choice. I took it on myself to get Thor’s body, and when the day came around, the boss looked at me and picked me.”
Once he gets the role, a single day on set could result in up to six layers of heavy makeup. “We sweat a lot between scenes, so the makeup artist has to keep retouching,” he explains. “But there’s no time to wash the makeup off, so it’s just layers and layers.” The makeup department also ensures that the performers are applying sunscreen, too. Before bed, Hanton uses Dove Men+Care Deep Clean Face Scrub to cleanse himself of the day’s work. “I try my best to stick to a daily routine,” he admits.
Bobby Holland Hanton at the 50th Anniversary Stuntmens Gala Honoring Harrison Ford in 2011. (Photo: Getty Images)
With incredible feats on his daily agenda, injuries are an expected reality of the stunt industry. “We try to make it as safe as possible,” he says, and lots of rehearsals help with that. “You can’t eliminate all danger, so you try your best and try to stay injury-free.” It’s troublesome, however, when you’re just starting out and not aware of the limitations of your body. Hanton, for example, had a debilitating back injury as a stunt double for the lead role in Green Lantern — back when he was still a rookie. “The Green Lantern was going to hit the ground with his back and we couldn’t use protective pads because I had to stick the ground instead of sliding,” he recalls. They rehearsed the carefully choreographed scene 15 times, but he still ended up with a herniated disk, a spinal injury. “It took me the best part of a year to get back to work,” Hanton says. “I’ve been lucky to be in a position where I could pull through.” Impressively, there are tons of visually arresting and liability-prone stunts that Hanton has done without becoming injured. In The Dark Knight Rises, where he was Christian Bale’s Batman stunt double, we witness Batman getting his back broken. “Little kids would tell me, you’re the real Batman!” he says.
Bobby Holland Hanton is a former world champion gymnast for Great Britain. (Courtesy of Dove Men+Care)
There are a few shortcuts to create the illusion of full-impact collision. For example, chairs that will be used to smash bodies are “scored,” which means they’re sawed so that they’ll easily break upon impact. But Hanton also admits that a lot of the stunts are improvised by the director on the day of the scene, so there is not always adequate time, rehearsal, or prop preparation. “You have to make sure you’re concentrating 100 percent of the time to avoid injury,” he says. “Also, a lot of the time, it does hurt.”
But Hanton admits that it’s not jumping from balconies that worry him. “It’s the little ones — falling and hitting the ground on gravel after a bullet hits,” he says. ”It’s the little stunts that hurt the most.”