As a car guy and a stunt man, the dream job has to be working on the "Fast and Furious" franchise, right?
Fortunately, former road racer turned stunt man Robert Nagle doesn't have to dream about it, because he's lived it. Nagle's been a stunt man on the last two "Fast" films, #5 and #6, and he's lived to tell us about it!
Nagle parlayed his contacts from the road racing circuit into high-performance driving work on such films as "Collateral," "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Drive," "The Dark Knight Rises," "Jack Reacher," "A Good Day to Die Hard," and more. And miraculously, through it all, his worst injury has been a broken thumb.
However, one of the stunts on "Fast 6" could have easily been a lot worse than that, as Nagle told us recently in a phone interview.
While filming a chase scene in the Canary Islands with the 2nd unit (directed by Spiro Rozatos), Nagle drove a high-speed camera car on a harrowing road with "1000 foot drop off into the ocean," Nagle said about the road that's normally closed to the public, "And there's not much between you and the edge of the road. There's these blocks that would probably just slow the car down a little bit before it went over the edge."
"I hadn't driven the road yet, and I hadn't driven this particular car yet," said Nagle, "the corners and the road conditions, everything was pretty precarious."
Nagle's drove the filming car behind two cars chasing one another: one driven by Mark Higgins, a world champion rally-car driver, and the other by Ben Collins, the man who played The Stig on "Top Gear" for seven years. "Both are really accomplished drivers. Needless to say, I had to really bring my A-game to stay with these guys," continued Nagle.
"We got it in one take, but at the end of the run, I was like, 'yeah, I'm kinda glad that's over,'" said Nagle, who didn't find out just how precarious the stunt was until after the run, "I find out afterwards that there were divots in the road that you and I would call pot holes. And these pot holes came from rocks that were falling from the cliff onto the road!"
The stunt was one of the scariest Nagle's ever done, and one of the few times he retrospectively wondered about his well-being. "I didn't think about it ahead of time, cause I just focused on my task at hand before. Afterwards, I had time to reflect and think that if something failed mechanically it was not going to be a pretty end."
While viewing that stunt, and many of the other physics-defying feats in the film, you might think there's a lot of CGI involved. But most of the action pieces in "Fast 6" are real. "That's what we try and do: really give 'em the pieces for real. Because your eye knows when it's not."
Speaking of real, one of Nagle's favorite stunts ever (and ours) was the safe-pulling sequence from "Fast 5," a stunt Nagle helped film. "It was obviously not a real safe, but it was still a substantial amount of steel being dragged around."
Even with all the nutty stunts Nagle's worked on, we wondered if he'd ever been asked to do something he was forced to back away from. "Not yet. No. We figure out a way, you know? That's part of it. That's part of the creative side. How do you figure it out? How do you plan this? How do you get what they're looking for?"
You can see some of Nagle's handiwork in the "Fast 6" extended look below...