Rob Herring is a former motocross champion turned stunt rider. He rode some of the toughest scenes in the Quantum of Solace movie...
What’s the best stunt you’ve worked on?
Definitely the jump scene in Panama for Quantum of Solace. I was originally supposed to ride the bike James Bond rides, but when they came up with the idea of filming it from a bike that would make the jump as well, the only person they wanted to ride the camera bike was me, so I ended up doing that job while Lee Morrison rode the Bond bike. His stature is more akin to Bond’s than mine. I’m a bit too big.
And what did the stunt involve?
It was a boat-to-boat jump, with both of them moving, surrounded by water. With no run up and with people on the boats getting in the way. It was a big stunt for the movie, and the first time a camera bike had carried out a jump like that. We used a Honda CRF450X. We modified it heavily to make the jump. We hacked the frame around, stiffened the forks and then shortened the stroke of the suspension. We had to make the bike as stable as possible to look after the camera, which cost a quarter of a million dollars!
So: Daniel Craig, What’s he really like?
I don’t think he had a bike at the start of the movie, but he’s not a bad rider. Lee (Daniel’s stunt double in the bike scenes) taught him how to ride on set. He rides a bike very well, really looks the part. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear he had bought himself a bike after this movie. As a person he is really down to earth, a nice guy and a great James Bond.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a bike racer, a pilot or like Evel Knievel. He was my all time hero. I was a typical young lad, I wanted all those action jobs. I guess I’ve covered most of that with what I've done.
What age did you start racing?
When I was nine I started racing in South Africa, my dad emigrated out there from the UK. I raced there until I was 17 then came back to the UK and have stayed ever since.
You were 10 times british motocross Champion. What was the highlight?
I’ve won in 125, 250, open class and supercross. The only thing I never won was four strokes because I only rode it for one year before I packed it in. I did finish second in that though. I was also in the Motocross des Nations winning team, which was the highlight of my race career.
How did you end up falling into this whole stuntman malarky, then?
I was introduced to a guy called Gary Powell, who is one of the best stunt co-ordinators in the world. He had followed my racing career and I bumped into him at a track. He made an off the cuff comment, asking me if I fancied doing some stunt work. I laughed and said "I'd love to, just give me a call." Two weeks later I was driving a stunt car in Miami for Casino Royale.
So which movies have you worked in?
I went from Casino Royale to working in the Bourne Ultimatum. Then back to the Bond series for Quantam of Solace. It turned out that my body shape didn’t really suit any of the actors. I ended up driving and riding the camera vehicles. The cameras are often placed on bikes for car chases, they are easier to manoeuvre and with my background we found I was perfect for the job.
500cc motocross bike on full bore or doing a film scene: Which gets you going more?
Some of the scenes are quite mundane slow speed jobs. racing is racing, it's 100% all the time. In that respect the physical and mental exertion is a lot more intense. The great thing about stunt work is the fact that it’s captured on film forever. Some of the moves I made in motocross will never be seen, and those that have will be forgotten about eventually. Every time a film pops up that I have worked on I am reminded of the job, which is great. Stunt work is the next best thing to racing, it’s a fantastic buzz for sure.
And which is more dangerous?
I think racing is more dangerous, there is so much ‘health and safety’ involved with stunt work, everything is considered. If something is too dangerous it’s up to us to flag it up before hand. On a track if it gets hairy you just have to get stuck in if you want to win.
Have you ever got it wrong on set, smashed an expensive car up or injured yourself?
So far, touch wood, everything has happened how it should. I drive a lot of very powerful cars, modified to carry cameras that are a real handful. I get very focused thanks to the racing I did. I apply the same meticulous approach to this job and thankfully, so far it’s worked for me.
What do you do when you’re not filming?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter. I like cycling and playing golf. Work wise, if I’m not filming, I either do some motocross coaching or I work on building sites. I’m actually tiling a roof as we speak.
So do the guys on site believe you when you say that you rode motorbikes in the latest bond movie?
Not really. This week one of the lads had an MCn on site. I don’t make a fuss about it, but I pointed myself out. Some people think I’m making it up so I normally keep quiet about it. It’s normally my friends that bring it up and tell people.
Will being a stuntman make you rich?
It could have done if I found it when I was a teenager and applied myself. But you never do at that age. It makes me happy, but I work on building sites in my spare time, so you don’t have to be a genius to figure out the answer, ha ha!
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