By K.S. Wang | November 07, 2012
Nice extract from the full article on Motortrend
Collins said the special effects team, led by Chris Corbould, modified the Land Rovers. “They played with the suspension quite heavily and we made it wider track and we used different wheels that we kept out of shot,” Collins says. “We also used standard wheels when we had to shoot on that, but that gave it much more stability when we were cornering hard, the wider track, because of the extra weight on the roof. They put different shock absorbers in there, stiffened up the suspension, there was much more control of the weight.” While they had different shock absorbers, the bigger change were the wider wheels. “The standard Land Rover wheels are very skinny, very slim and to give it more stability we had wider wheels,” Collins says. Collins did all the braking, accelerating, and so on from a pod on the roof of the Land Rover. Being that high up and controlling the car was an odd feeling, even for the former Stig. “It feels very strange. You’re quite disconnected in a way because it’s so high up, but then again, you have more control. Albeit it’s different because normally you have a steering rack, it’s a direct link to the front wheels and in this case we use a hydraulic system, so you have much less feedback. There’s a delay in the kind of reaction,” Collins says. “You have to turn the wheels twice as much to get the normal amount of travel in the front wheels turning that you get in a standard road car. And the sensations you get are exaggerated.
The movement in the car is tripled by the time it’s reached to where you’re sitting. But that’s the joy of it really as a stunt driver, is adapting to that technology and making the most of it and it actually outperformed the standard car in the end.”
The Audis were also modified. “There were two different types. The one that flips over, it’s a four-wheel drive Audi, but we decoupled the front axle so that it was more unstable and therefore we could kick it around a bit,” Collins says. “And so it was good for flicking through the streets, not that the four-wheel drive wouldn’t be, but just to get it to power slide.” The Jaguar XJ didn’t require any modifications, but had its own challenges. “The Jaguar, which we had in London, I was giving that one a good thrashing. I think it was when Bond was driving away with M in the car. It was a quick slide out through the corner, flying through traffic. It wasn’t too complicated, but at the same time it was an automatic car, so for me it was challenging because I had to power slide it without the aid of clutch or that much power,” Collins says. “It was one of those things you wanted to get it right and the consequences of getting it wrong would be ugly. We spent an afternoon doing it, but we got it done quickly.”
This is Collins’ second Bond movie. In “Quantum of Solace” he drove the Aston Martin DBS, and he was the one who practiced with Craig on the “Top Gear” track to prepare for that film. During “Quantum of Solace” Collins wasn’t out as the Stig yet. “I think Gary had his suspicions and eventually he knew because I had to get free for a day to fly back to the U.K. to drive a new Ferrari for ‘Top Gear’ and explain why I needed to get the time off from shooting,” Collins says. “We’re all grown up and during the time of ‘Top Gear’ there were lots of conversations with people far and wide that had to know what I did, in getting insured for the cars, the manufacturers that supplied them.” For this film, although Craig had practice time in the old DB5, Collins was on hand in Scotland as well. “He’s a very good driver so he gets on with it himself, unless it’s particularly challenging or dangerous, then perhaps it’s not Daniel, but he does as much as he can,” Collins says. “So it’s always good hanging out with him and seeing him go. He always drives well.”
Collins thinks fans will enjoy the opening chase sequence in Istanbul. “It’s quite bit and piece-y, but at the same time, I think it’s quite a stylish car chase. Bond’s transition from one machine to the next is really entertaining,” Collins says. “It starts in the car, then it goes onto the bike, then it goes onto the train and there’s this really terrifying moment and it looks like you’re going to lose Bond, and say no more until you see it.” Collin’s former colleagues from “Top Gear” spent time on the “Skyfall” set in Istanbul, for an episode that will air on BBC America Nov. 12, when the show celebrates 50 years of Bond cars. “We had ‘Top Gear’ come out and do some behind-the-scenes filming and that was quite funny, and to wind them up, I wore my “I am the Stig” T-shirt and we did an interview. So it was nice to be back with ‘Top Gear’ and having a laugh with them as well.” The “I am the Stig” T-shirt had been popular in the U.K. “When the secret was a secret, it’s one of those comedy T-shirts I’ve always seen other people wearing that I could never wear myself, so when ‘Top Gear’ came to do their filming, I stuck it on,” Collins says.
The on-set visit by “Top Gear” in Istanbul was only the second time Collins had seen the crew of his former show, since he came out as the Stig and the BBC had gone to court to try to block publication of his book “The Man in the White Suit.” “It was nice seeing them more socially and hanging out with them,” Collins says. “They were there for about a week, so that was really nice to catch up and have a laugh, and see that the sense of humor had returned, because there was a lot of bump and grind with Clarkson at the time that I left the show. There was a lot of animosity, I suppose, with Jeremy Clarkson and all that, when my book came out, there was a lot of friction and we had this silly legal battle over here, so it’s nice to have gone full circle and be able to get on again.” Collins has been busy on movie sets such as “Skyfall” and also as one of the stunt drivers of the Batmobile in “The Dark Knight Rises.” “The coolest thing with the Bond films is you’re working with the best stunt crew in the world probably,” Collins says. “We had a guy, Damien Walters, who’s a twice world champion tumbler gymnast; we had an Olympic gymnast from the U.K. team. There’s just so many incredible talents there. That’s what I like the most, is that huge variety of skills.”
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