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Doubling Bond

7th April 2013

Jamie Edgell shares his memories from the set of 'GoldenEye', where as fresh-faced stunt man he stood in for Pierce Brosnan

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Unlike many teens, Jamie Edgell knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up: become a stunt man. But, many people he knew laughed it off, suggesting it was a pie-in-the-sky dream. Now Edgell has a prolific career as a stunt double and coordinator for some of Hollywood's elite, and along the way, he even had time to stand in for Pierce Brosnan as the legendary agent 007.

When he left school, Edgell relays, "I went to a careers office and said I wanted to be a stuntmen, they sent me away with an A4 sheet of paper and said I had no chance." After a few weeks as a checkout attendant he knew that this was not for him. "I knew that I wanted to work in the entertainment industry - not a nine to five factory job - so I started auditioning." He landed a breakthrough role in the taxing "Starlight Express" - the futuristic musical on rollerblades, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Bond songsmith Don Black, amongst others.

Above: Bond's cooped tank speeds through the life-size replica of St. Petersburg, shot on the back lot of Leavesden Studios, UK.

After two years on the show, Edgell still had his mind set on the goal of becoming a stuntman, and with his Equity card in hand (another thing people told him he would never get), he went off to get some training in the profession he had set his heart on. "I had worked in my younger days by turning up and helping out with and observing filmmaking. Unbeknownst to me there was a young stuntman, now coordinator, Simon Crane. He is a very big stunt coordinator and a skilled second unit director who lives and works in LA."

Crane liked and recruited Edgell to a series of productions, including "Braveheart" and "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein". Crane coached Edgell throughout his early days as a stunt man and before long the stunt man earned his first doubling role on "First Knight", standing in for Richard Gere in the 1995 Arthurian tale.

It was his work with Crane that lead Edgell to Bond, on which the former was serving as stunt coordinator for "GoldenEye". Edgell recalls that he was "not part of the core crew" on his first Bond outing. "Bond movies have many units so I was going to be a Bond double, but not the primary Bond double."

Edgell and a skeleton crew went to St. Petersburg to capture some preliminary action for the tank chase. This work was later "intercut with stuff that was shot a Leavesden Studios, where they built the whole set," so as to destroy streets and buildings of the famed city. Because of the nature of the small unit, Edgell says, "one minute I would be doubling Bond and the next I would be putting on a costume to play a Russian."

Things took a turn for the worse for the "lovely man by the name Mark Southworth", who was set to double for Brosnan, "about two months into filming had an accident and broke his back [just] at the point where he was about to fly out to Port Reco to film all the Arecibo [observatory] sequences."

Edgell stepped in. Ultimately the relatively fresh-faced stunt man was integral to the brutal finale of "GoldenEye". "The final fight, which was underneath the Arecibo structure was me, and also the bit where he slides down the ladder - that is me and another stunt guy at the very end of the fight."

Right: Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan film the final confrontation on a set - intercut with scenes of Edgall and his colleagues battling on the high wires of the Arecibo observatory.


After "GoldenEye" wrapped, Edgell started working with a variety of coordinators and found work on blockbusters such as "Mission: Impossible", "The Fifth Element" and "Titanic". He was called back to Bond for both "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World Is Not Enough" but on the latter he did not stand in for 007, but for the police officers onboard a pursuit boat in the high-speed pre-titles chase.

"I had just returned from Thailand after filming "The Beach", doubling Leonardo Dicaprio for the whole film. I literarily got home for a few days, then got the call to come onto the Thames, as I had done a lot of boat wok. I remember being all tanned from Thailand, and the filming happening in March or April and everybody was cold pale!"

On set, Edgell recalls, Pierce Brosnan was the perfect gentleman. "He was absolutely wonderful - as nice a man as I ever met. His kind are few and far between, he is always a pleasure to meet; he is like an old friend you have not seen for many years. Even though we are not in the same circles, we may meet on a job, and it's like it was back then, over 15 years ago... he was very professional."

And, through working "Hot Fuzz", Edgell got to meet a boyhood hero: Timothy Dalton. "It was wicked! I end up sitting next to Timothy for 2 days. He is one of my Bond icons from when I was a lad; [Never thought I'd be] sitting next to him."

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