Comic Book Movie
July 27, 2011
Kind enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions about his work on Captain America: The First Avenger, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and The Dark Knight Rises, stuntman Rick English gives us a fascinating and unique insight behind the scenes of all three movies, as well as revealing plenty of new details about what he did on each of them. You can learn more about Rick and his work by clicking to head on over to his official site HERE, and follow him on Twitter HERE.
How did you become a stuntman exactly?
I wanted to be a stuntman since watching The Fall Guy and Hooper as a child, but it kind of fell by the wayside whilst growing up. I worked as a martial arts and fitness instructor in London’s West End in my early 20s and was approached to do a few bits of fighting for films. After this, I decided that this was what I wanted to do for a living. I started training for the British Stunt Register and the rest is history…
What can you reveal about your time on Captain America: The First Avenger?
Captain America was a great time for me. I remember getting the call from the coordinator and it sounded awesome. I was originally called to be the motorcycle double for Chris Evans – motorcycles are a huge love of mine and are where all my time and all my money goes!
I rehearsed for months with the Harley and helped Chris out with his riding. As part of the core stunt team on Cap A, we were all also involved in rehearsing the generic stunts and fights for the movie. I was the best size-wise to perform Hugo’s part so was also fitted as Red Skull / Schmitt double. In the end, this ended up being my main job on the movie.
How closely did you work alongside Hugo Weaving exactly?
Hugo was fantastic to work with. The nicest guy you could ever meet and obviously an amazing actor. He would come in for the fight rehearsals and was full of enthusiasm and ideas for how the character would move and react in each scene. We got a lot out of every session we had with him. Although he had done plenty of fight scenes in The Matrix movies, he was still willing to learn and listen to criticism and the advice offered.
Did being the stunt double for Hugo mean you also had to don the prosthetics of the Red Skull? Can you take us through that process?
Yeah – I had a slightly less complicated procedure for prosthetic application than Hugo. His whole process would take around 5 hrs to complete. Mine was around half that. The difference was that Hugo’s face had to articulate and have much more expression than mine. His make-up was therefore made up of more individual pieces than mine, so took a lot longer to apply. To be honest, I never heard him complain once about the make-up. We would finish a long day filming and would be sitting side by side in the make-up trailer. i would be totally shattered but he would be still joking around and full of beans!
Can you tell us a little about what it was like to perform under the direction of Joe Johnston?
This is the second movie I have worked on with Joe Johnston, the first being The Wolfman. Saying that, to be honest the stunt department has more to do with the second unit and therefore the second unit director. Joe seems like a super nice guy with a clear vision of what he wants.
Did you get to work with Chris Evans? How was that?
Chris was great. He was good to work with because he’s an athlete. He moves well and picks up the fights and action beats quickly and accurately. This allowed the director to use Chris for parts of the fights where other actors would have required a double. Chris had never ridden a motorcycle before. Within an hour we were riding around Pinewood studios together. That day was a lot of fun.
You’ve also doubled for Nic Cage in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. How was it both working with him and on that movie?
I was so excited to get the call for Ghost Rider. Despite the criticism the first movie may have received from the press and certain comic book fans, I actually really liked it. I thought it was a couple of hours of good entertainment with motorcycles. What more do you want?? Haha My 8 year old son also loved the movie and was so excited when I told him I was going to be doing the second film. Nic is a really cool guy and, like myself, is really into his motorcycles. We went riding together a few times and he is actually a really good rider. He certainly has a love of speed! The movie was right up my street. Motorcycles, fights and wirework are my specialities and this film was built on these… Neveldine and Taylor love action and know how to shoot it. If half of their enthusiasm comes across in this movie, it will be something special.
Anything at all you can tell us about what you’re getting up to in The Dark Knight Rises?
To be honest, I only worked a couple of weeks on TDKR. I have to say though that in my experience of working with him, Chris Nolan has amazing vision and is clear about what he wants. He is a very clever guy and doesn’t make bad films…
What else is next for you?
For the next few months I am working on a big zombie movie. It is something different from anything I have done before and we have a great team on this one. That’s all I can really say at the moment except that I’m really enjoying it. Can’t wait to go to work every day!