5 Movie Stunts That Looked Even Crazier Behind The Scenes

It’s hard to impress people with a really amazing camera shot nowadays, because they’ll assume it was all done by some nerd in front of a computer. But every once in a blood moon, when you see a really insane shot in a movie, that’s because there’s an even more insane story behind it. Such as how …

5

The Bourne Movies’ Cameramen Had To Leap Between Buildings

The Bourne series found success by posing a fascinating question: “What if James Bond was even more of a reckless maniac?” One notable sequence from The Bourne Ultimatum has the camera following Jason Bourne as he jumps off a building into another building via the window, because if your derring-do isn’t as painful as possible, you may as well be riding a tricycle.

Universal PicturesBourne’s skin is 50 percent glass fragments by now.

So how did they get a camera crane to move so fluently? They didn’t. In what you’re hopefully starting to recognize as a pattern in this article, they just tied up a cameraman and had him jump off a building.

Universal PicturesIt was about time Peter Parker graduated to bigger cameras.

We say “just,” but this shot took months of preparation in order to find a suitable window-jumping-through location, as well as build the rig that would let the cameraman jump safely while filming (the actual stuntman’s safety equipment consisted of crossed fingers and a will). And on top of that, the harness got stuck, and they had to film the leap a second time. For the sake of comparison, we got tired merely writing that sentence.

Universal PicturesAlthough they got some good footage of the dude in the apartment below taking a shower.

But the ridiculous stunts aren’t limited to the good Bourne movies. In order to film a car chase for 2016’s Jason Bourne, the filmmakers had to follow the stunt car in a car of their own, through traffic, while wielding a miniature GLaDOS on the end of a crane.

Universal Pictures

Universal PicturesThis is even better if you imagine there’s an AI sassing the car the whole time.

This device is known as a Russian Arm, because anything that absurd and dangerous has to be a Russian something.

4

Michael Bay Straps Cameras To “Suicide Vehicles” And Makes People Drive Them

Watching a Michael Bay flick is like viewing Raiders Of The Lost Ark while strapped to a roller coaster — not exactly enjoyable, but there’s still a certain thrill to it. He’s well-known for bringing audiences closer to the action than anyone else, and how does he do it? Why, by constantly risking the lives of his cast and crew through contraptions like this:

Columbia PicturesThe original design for Optimus’ live-action version was somehow even uglier.

This car looks like it should be riding historic on a Fury Road, but it is in fact what was used to film Bad Boys II. Known as the Bay Bomber, the vehicle was outfitted with cameras all over, including one hanging off the side. It’s got all that fencing on the front because the driver, against all logic and common sense, is supposed to drive that camera car into other cars in order to make them flip upwards and into the terrified driver’s face. It’s designed to make it look like “a cameraman would have been killed shooting” the scene, which doesn’t seem like such a far out possibility.

Columbia Pictures“Sorry about your husband. But hey, this scene was nominated for an MTV Movie Award!” “Did it win?” “Nope.”

But somehow, this is not the car that Bay refers to as the “suicide vehicle.” That would be this one:

Paramount PicturesNote the hero who instinctively tries to jump in front of it just to prevent another Michael Bay film.

You know those scenes in Transformers in which the camera seems to zoom dangerously through city streets? This go-kart of death is how they get them. This includes one stunt wherein they flung a car so high that they accidentally launched it into the side of a building. Meanwhile, the sum total of the stunt driver’s protection from falling cars and the like was one (1) helmet, which was probably rigged to explode like everything else.

Paramount PicturesEven the cars do cocaine during these shoots.

At least it’s “only” the camera operators and crew risking their lives, while the stars stay safely out of the way of flying vehicles. Unless, of course, you’re a still-unknown Shia LaBeouf, who got to find out how quickly he could climb over a car for this shot:

Paramount PicturesA half-second later, and he would remained unknown.

3

The Actors In The Godfather Had Their Bodies Rigged With Tiny Explosives

OK, so The Godfather isn’t exactly filled with action-packed stunts. There are no car chases that end with people flying off cliffs. There are, however, a crap-ton of people who get shot. And if you watch it again, you’ll notice that the gunshot effects are really good, especially for the 1970s. So how did they pull those off without seriously hurting the actors? The answer, naturally, is that they covered them with tiny explosive charges. (Note that we said “seriously” hurting them.)

Perhaps the most famous shooting scene is the one in the restaurant, when Michael Corleone levels up by shooting a couple of guys in the head. Each of these slayings required a different effect. One of the actors, Sterling Hayden, had a small explosive rig hooked up to his forehead, filled with fake blood and covered in latex to hide it. Here it is slowed down so you can have fun imagining what it must have felt like:

Paramount PicturesEither that’s the reflection of the gun on the window or they were shooting during the Fourth of July.

The other actor, Al Lettieri, needed his head to literally explode, so they rigged up a tube full of red powder behind his head in order to simulate all the gore. Part of the effect required Lettieri to for real get shot in the head with a wax bullet. Thankfully, the marksman standing in for Pacino hit his target perfectly, the scene went off without a hitch, and Lettieri still had both his eyes at the end of the day.

Paramount PicturesHe probably needed a change of undies, though.

The person who really gets an A for effort, though, is James Caan. Caan played Sonny Corleone, who gets killed partway through the film by roughly a million billion bullets. This meant that Caan was completely covered in explosive squibs — 147 of them, to be exact. And these were ’70s-era squibs, made from brass and filled with gunpowder. Having one go off felt like “being punched,” according to Caan. So basically, his death scene involved him getting rapidly punched all over his torso like he was a villain in Fist Of The North Star.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount PicturesHe also invented disco dancing in the process.

2

The Directors Of Ghost Rider 2 Jumped Off Cliffs, Chased Motorcycles On Roller Blades

If you never saw Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, welcome to an exclusive group called “most of humanity.” The movie made a modest sum, but didn’t exactly light the world on fire (ironically). But if they’d just scrapped the movie and played the insane behind-the-scenes footage in theaters, we’re convinced it would have smashed all records.

Take this shot, in which an actor jumps off a cliff, which the co-director achieved by picking up a camera and also jumping off the cliff.

Marvel StudiosThe director’s mom: “Wait, it was a rhetorical question!”

Directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine apparently like getting even closer to the action than Michael Bay, because they went ahead and did the exact same death-defying stunts as the stuntmen, while holding and aiming cameras. According to Wired, this is why the movie wasn’t shot in 3D. It’s rather hard to hold a heavy 3D camera while hanging off of a building. Even Nicolas Cage had to be like, “This is a little too much, don’t you think?”

Marvel StudiosCage had to go the distance to uphold his reputation as the biggest loon on set.

But it’s the filming of the highway scenes that really takes the cake. Instead of building a sturdy murder car and putting stunt drivers in it like Bay, Taylor and Neveldine filmed the shots themselves, on the open highway, on roller blades.

Marvel StudiosIf they do a third movie, we’re assuming they’ll have to shoot it as actual ghosts.

We don’t know what Oscars they could earn for these stunts, but we’re reasonably sure they deserve at least three.

1

Holy Crap, The First Mad Max, Everybody

It goes without saying that making of the original Mad Max was pretty dangerous. Whenever you combine high speed, motorcycles, and Mel Gibson, something horrible is likely to happen. But even so, we’re still baffled at how they managed to get a shot like this one:

Village RoadshowAlso depicted above: All the extras this movie’s budget could afford (seriously).

Think about it. How did they even do that? Did they cover the motorcycle driver in invisible paint? Did they teach a camera how to drive? The answer, of course, is that one cameraman had gonads the size of the Epcot Center:

Village RoadshowWhich must have been … awkward for the driver.

There are several things going on here, so let’s break it down:

1) That cameraman is not wearing a helmet, because it would be too difficult to operate the camera while wearing one. (And because everyone involved is highly irresponsible. Please don’t do this.)

2) The cameraman is sitting sideways on the motorcycle as it leans into a turn, increasing the chances that a slight jostle will send him into a year-end “Those We’ve Lost” montage at the Oscars.

3) The driver is leaning as far forward as possible to get out of the shot, which must make it really hard to see where the heck he’s driving.

4) It’s not visible here, but both the driver and the cameraman are strapped in with the same seat belt, because proper safety is for weaklings. And, you know, living people.

5) As seen in the movie, the speedometer says they’re moving at around 110 mph.

So this was a perfect storm of bloody motorcycle death waiting to happen. Somehow, they managed to pull the shot off, and their families were able to see their names on the big screen instead of gravestones.

There are tons of accessories for motorcycle enthusiasts to tinker with, and the first one we’d recommend is a goshdarn helmet.

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