Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Empire Blogs
Empire States

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Empire Meets Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Rush’ Alter Ego

Posted on Monday January 27, 2014, 17:18 by Ally Wybrew in Empire States
Empire Meets Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Rush’ Alter Ego

It’s been a while since anyone was killed on a press day – it’s bad PR – but I still had survival in mind when I arrived at the McLaren Technology Centre to interview Niki ‘Hollywood’ Faulkner, Chris Hemsworth’s driving stunt double in Rush, and drive the rocket-like McLaren 12C. And I was hardly imbued with confidence by the brief chat I had with Faulkner before climbing into the supercar. “I’ve been blown up in a car,” he points out with the nonchalance of a man recalling his lunchtime sandwich. “I had to drive along, this bomb went off and the whole back of the car got blown off.” Right. “That’s nice,” we mutter, sweeping the McLaren for explosives. Sure, it was an unlikely eventuality on a £170,000’s worth of supercar, but you never know.

Feigning calm, I stepped into the 600ph car. But would my driving experience be anything like James Hunt’s antics in Ron Howard’s BAFTA-nominated sports drama? Going by what Faulkner had to say, not quite.

“There’s always that moment when they say, ‘Three, two, one,’ and then you’re like, ‘Ooh… nope, I’m still here’.” As we all know from Drive, defying death is all part of a stunt man’s gig (the brutal murders somewhat less so) and Faulkner has seen his fair share of danger. Before getting behind the wheel for Hollywood (hence the nickname), he worked on commercials and TV shows. Producing online adverts (for the likes of Kit Kat, Lexus and Audi) went down well with Faulkner, as he got to “go mental and slide around and do jumps and all kinds of things, whereas car commercials are very dampened down because it has to show safe and considerate driving”.

As a film fan, Faulkner had his sights set on the film industry when he set up his business, Driving Wizards. Surely he’d dreamt of scoring a role in a Fast & Furious movie? “I think it’s an amazing franchise,” he says, “but I’m probably a bit more old-school. It’s for the gaming generation and I think they are definitely into that genre.” He namechecks Peter Yates’ Bullitt and lauds a 9-minute short by Claude Lelouch, Rendezvous, that shows a real-time shot of a man hooning around Paris in a Ferrari.

Unfortunately, as a stuntman you can’t help but analyse on-screen action scenes. “When you know how they do it”, admits Faulkner, “it does ruin it for you a little bit”.

Another that made an impression was John Frankenheimer’s Ronin. “I thought it was a great film, and has a good car chase sequence in it. But when you actually watch one of the scenes where they’re driving against the flow of the traffic, and you watch carefully, the cars going the other way are barely moving. They’re doing like five miles an hour, but it looks like they’re doing about 80.”

Faulkner’s experience with Ron Howard on the set of Rush was more thorough. “Ron is very much hands on. He’s got a very good visualisation of the bigger picture, but he also trusted us. I know how cars look on camera and how to shoot cars – we’d often come up with suggestions for camera positions or camera angles to help with what Ron wanted to achieve”.

Empire's Ally Wybrew with Niki Faulkner at the McLaren headquarters
Empire's Ally Wybrew with Niki Faulkner at the McLaren headquarters

Directors aren’t always so engaged with their stuntmen, as Faulkner has experienced. “On some of the films you don’t know anything about the plot, probably because they don’t want you to tell anyone, and partly because it doesn’t make sense anyway,” he explains. “You just kind of do your bit.”

Getting the race scenes right was of prime importance on Rush, catapulting Faulkner into an unusually integral role. He explains: “Those racing sections needed to be very dynamic, so we sat down with Ron [and] went through every version of the script. I was choreographing and putting together all the race sequences, so knowing the script helped because it put context to everything, and it helped Ron get across what he wanted from the driving sequences, too”.

Bagging a gig with one of Hollywood’s A-list directors on a BAFTA-nominated film arguably puts the stuntman in pole position career-wise. So where to from here? “I think you’ve got to look at all of the big ones,” he says of his dream director partnerships. “So you’re looking at Ridley Scott, James Cameron; I think those British directors would be nice to work with because they’re very intense and they put a lot of attention to detail into what they do. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Matthew Vaughn recently, who’s very good, knows his stuff, and is quite an interesting director”.

We’ve got to say that from our experience in the McLaren 12C, there’s a definite appeal to driving fast cars at high speeds, but if you’re looking to put your life at risk in return for cash, you’ll need more experience than a few doughnuts in Sainsbury’s car park.

Rush is available to download now and is released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 27, courtesy of Studiocanal. With thanks to Niki Faulkner, McLaren Technology Centre and Chris Wilkins.

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Remember Me:


Empire States (443)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


The European Film Awards 2014: A Victory For Ida
By Damon Wise

Cannes Film Festival 2014: Awards Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance London: An Introduction To The 2014 Edition
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: First Report
By Damon Wise

Shane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color
By Damon Wise

Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: First Look
By Damon Wise

The European Film Awards 2013
By Damon Wise

Metro Manila Charity Screenings
By Damon Wise


Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
"lights of both competitors alongside its traditional 24/7 series. Here we have the greatest hits of "  lalkala000
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Ha ha, buuuurn! I am going to go a step further and say Dredd was a better film."  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"You are a miserable old fart! "  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Doug64 I totally agreed with you"  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Am I the only person in the world who doesn't think The Raid is all that great? I realise you have t"  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Great write-up on a movie for which I am incredibly excited. Even more promisingly, this seems to be"  tysmuse
Read comment

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
"If being on a par with Terry Gilliam's 'daft' Brazil is the only criticism avowed Gilliam-disliker D"  Garth_Marenghi
Read comment

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
"I'm glad that Glazer's finally back on the big screen. Judging by the review, he"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"What's really interesting about this film is the trailer gives nothing away but give you the premise"  durelius
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"Looks majestic. Can't wait to see this particularly if it lives up to the slowly-building hype."  herbertwest1701
Read comment


Why I Love Django Unchained

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World

Venice 2013: Under The Skin

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part Two

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part 5

Argo: a round table encounter with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman

Cannes 2013: Some Thoughts On The Official Lineup

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap

Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Will Lawrence (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

Empire's New Spectre Issue Covers
First look at Bond 24 in Empire's April issue

Vote For The Jameson Empire Awards 2015!
Your mission is clear...

The Oscars: Who Won What?
The winners, the losers, the dresses, the suits...

The Empire Podcast Oscars 2015 Special
The team's take on the 87th Academy Awards

Sleeping Beauties: The Story Behind 12 Of Cinema's Unlikeliest Hits
They came, they saw, they surprisingly conquered

Writer / Director Dan Gilroy Reveals 8 Nightcrawler Secrets
On Jake Gyllenhaal's hand-slicing mirror smash and more...

Robert Downey Jr. On Age Of Ultron
Tomorrow: Mark Ruffalo talks Bruce Banner...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)