Ryan Reynold's stunt double talks the thrills and spills of the Hitman's Bodyguard

By Michelle Johnson | 11 Dec 2017 | Sport

Stunt expert Adam Bradshaw tells Tempus about his most exhilarating on-set moments and daredevil regime

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* Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds star in the Hitman's Bodyguard, with stunt performer Adam Bradshaw

Every great action film is measured by its death-defying stunts, and comedy The Hitman's Bodyguard is no exception. As bodyguard Ryan Reynolds and former assassin Samuel L. Jackson race across Europe in an effort to put a warlord in jail, they must escape the sights of the criminal's henchmen before it's too late.

Not just a buddy movie between the two unlikely stars, the film – which is out on DVD and Blu-Ray Monday 11 December – is packed with car chases, fight sequences, and explosions, including a high-octane race on the Amsterdam canals with Reynolds on a motorbike beside. Reynold's stunt double, Adam Bradshaw, was key to making these stunts possible, having previously worked on everything from The Avengers: Age of Ultron to Assassin's Creed.

Speaking to Tempus, Bradshaw revealed secrets from the set, details of his gruelling training regime, and the mental discipline needed to become a world class stunt performer…

Could you share some experiences of working on The Hitman’s Bodyguard?
Working on the film was a fantastic experience working with some of the best in the business. I'll never forget walking on set and meeting Ryan [Reynolds] and Sam [L. Jackson] for the first time and seeing them rehearse the scene together. They have an amazing dynamic together. One of my favourite scenes to shoot was a bar scene involved Sam and Salma [Hayek] – we had these great long takes as the camera was slowly panning in to Sam's reaction to Salma kicking butt during a massive bar fight. We were smashing (fake) glass over each other, we had a stunt man on fire running through the set – it was intense but a lot of fun.

Does your work differ in an action comedy compared to an action blockbuster?
For us it doesn't change much in terms of choreography. We create a fight / action scene based on what the script says and go from there. We then show the director and actors and they will then decide where they want their comedic moments. >>

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* Ryan Reynolds poses with his stunt performer Adam Bradshaw on the set of Hitman's Bodyguard

Could you tell us about some of the training regime that goes into maintaining a career as a stunt person?
Sure! I train every single day whether that's weight training, martial arts, gymnastics or free running. I'll make sure I have something going on that is keeping me ready for when the phone goes. Being a stunt performer can be so varied, so it takes a lot of general fitness as well as being limber to avoid injury, and with a lot training focusing on specific things like weapons training etc.

Is there a favourite actor that you’ve doubled for? Anyone that made you star struck?
I don't get star struck really but I'll be honest, when I walked in and saw Ryan for the first time I was pretty blown away, but that soon goes once you get to know them. He is a great guy and such a pleasure to double for.

Do you have a favourite stunt scene, or wildest stunt, from your career?
I have been involved in quite a few scenes in big Hollywood movies and there are a few that stand out. I was stunt doubling Jeremy Renner on Avengers: Age of Ultron and I had to do a side flip off a car, then run and dive through a window. I've been through a few windows in my career now. Even on Hitman's Bodyguard I went through a kitchen window for Ryan, which was fun. For Assassin's Creed, we had to jump six metres from one building to another – all from a height of 55ft with only an airbag below. We had no wires, just landed on crash mats. I actually doubled the girl for that gig!

Has it ever gone wrong? How do you cope with that?
I've been very fortunate to only be involved in stunts that have been executed perfectly. Of course injuries happen, and that's the nature of the business, but I've always made sure that I'm switched on when it comes to my work and taken every safety precaution necessary. >>

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* Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackoson star in the Hitman's Bodyguard, with stunt performer Adam Bradshaw

When you’re working as a stunt double, as opposed to performing a stunt, does the physicality or acting style of the person you’re doubling come into play?
Yes totally! It's really important to embody the actor you are doubling. You have to watch how they play the character and try to do a similar thing.

What are the risks involved? And what is it about the job that makes those risks worth it?
There are always risks involved in stunts but it's our job to make sure we make everything as safe as possible so we can repeat it over and over without anyone getting hurt. The usual injuries are things like bumps and grazes, twists and sprains – but that's the nature of the game. When you see your work on screen of a huge Hollywood movie it makes everything all worth it. Having the memories of the job you worked on and knowing what a huge opportunity you had is something that will last forever.

What’s the coolest stunt you’ve ever seen? Who are your personal heroes?
One of the coolest stunts I have ever seen in person was watching a great stunt man, Damien Walters, perform a 120ft high fall to an airbag on Assassin's Creed. The precision and execution of that is really something of a spectacle and I take my hat off for that one. My hero has always been Jackie Chan. He is quite literally the reason why I do what I do. I also look up to many action stars like Scott Atkins for inspiration.

What’s next for you?
I have been so fortunate in my career and each year presents itself with new opportunities. This year, and next year I am working on Fast and Furious Live show performing as an actor and stunt performer on the show, which is touring all over the world and opening at the O2 in London 2018.

Hitman's Bodyguard is available on DVD and blu-Ray now