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Column

 

 Mr. Grecos, what do you think about...

Risk?

Illustration Jörg Block

M

any people are always assuming that I’m a daredevil because I’m a stuntman—that I fearlessly throw myself off cliffs or jump out of burning cars. It is true that adrenaline often has a positive effect in my job. But a daredevil? Actually, I’m the opposite. I have to plan my stunts down to the last detail and run through them again and again until everything is perfectly in sync. If I didn’t properly assess the risks, I’d be gambling with my health almost every day.

Very high demands are placed on me: on the one hand I’m a stuntman, yet I have to have a lot of specialist technical knowledge. I simulate wild fights and car rollovers. For the latter, for instance, the car has to be checked by an expert, but also by me. Are the brakes working properly? Do rollover bars need to be welded on? Are the weld joints perfect? Might the windshield break? Could it injure me? Does it need to be reinforced with something? There’s always a risk. I try to minimize this through attention to detail and hard training.

But even if I plan everything down to the last detail, minor injuries still happen. I once tore a ligament, had a slight shoulder injury, but fortunately never experienced anything worse. I’ve never regretted becoming a stuntman in any way. I still remember waking up one day when I was twenty-two years old and knowing: I want to be a stuntman. It’s given me so much. If I hadn’t made that decision, I’d never have been in Hollywood films, for example.

I have no idea how many film productions I’ve worked in since then, in minor roles or as a stuntman. More than eighty, certainly, but it might also be over a hundred. The highlights were three James Bond films, including Spectre, the most recent one, the Bourne series, Fast & Furious 6 and The Avengers 2. Daniel Craig really impressed me in this instance. I filmed the opening scene with him in Skyfall. He’s a great guy. But Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington are also very professional, especially where stunts are concerned. They always listen attentively when you’re talking to them about it.

That’s also important, because the demands on a film set are sometimes much higher than those for stunts in an amusement park. For the film there’s a director who perhaps didn’t like a motorcycle crash, and then I have to film it again. During filming, when I’m playing a role, of course I’m concentrating on the acting and therefore not one hundred percent on the stunt, and, by implication, the risk increases a little bit. The trick is finding the balance between mindfulness and a dash of risk-taking.

EVANGELOS GRECOS, 43, is one of the world’s most renowned stuntmen. Most recently he acted alongside Daniel Craig in the James Bond blockbuster Spectre.