Earlier this month MI6 persuaded Sarah Donohue to take some time out of her hectic schedule and talk Bond...

Interview - Sarah Donohue (Part 1)
26th December 2003

European Champion powerboat racer Sarah Donohue took a short break from her busy schedule to talk to MI6. In this two part interview we chat about her work on the opening sequence of "The World Is Not Enough" and how she got into the world of stunts...

Extreme Beginnings

How long have you been in the stunt business?
I’ve been in the stunt business 4 years, but in the extreme sports world working for television testing/reporting on new and old extreme sports, 10 years!.


How did you start out as a stuntwoman?
My father suggested stunt work to me when I was 21.

From there I took qualifications to be on the register over here, but got sidetracked by Offshore Powerboat Racing which as you can imagine took up all my time and energies and I had to focus 100% on racing, and then the Extreme sports kicked in soon after, working for Granada TV.

Left: Sarah Donohue in costume as the Cigar Girl on set.

What has been you favourite film you have worked on, or your favourite stunt you have performed?
I loved working for the BBC when I actually reconstructed my own accident for the TV show ‘999’. It’s the first time the BBC have allowed such a thing as usually it would be traumatic and they would always have to bring stunts into it. But as I said to them - if they went to the register, they would only get referred back to me anyway!!! I had a big accident racing in Italy and was on life-support. Everyone used in the reconstruction was used in ‘999’.

Come In 007...

Was "The World is Not Enough" your first film to perform as a stuntwoman?

When the stunt was proposed, where you the first person that Vic called for the job, why?
As far as I am aware, they needed a specialist for the job as opposed to someone who had boat-handling skills. It was precision driving, or as much as it can be on water!!! So I was the obvious choice. It was a piece of cake for me.

At what stage did you come onboard the project?
I came onboard right at the beginning, training at the lake in December… It was very important we knew the limitations of the boat and worked on any foreseeable problems early. Also the jet boats and the 360 midair barrel roll had to be practiced.

How long was the prep and what did it involve?
We tested at the lake in December and into January, February was the ski scene in Chaminoix and then back to boats in March through to I think around May. We had to see if the boat could turn on a six pence and what it was capable of.

Where they’re any accident that delayed shooting?
No accident delayed shooting but one scene that took longer than expected which took up loads of time and pissed everyone off to the point where when we got it, it was pure Euphoria, was when Pierce was seen going underwater in the boat, straightening his tie, after the bridge had come down just as I went through.

Above: Sarah Donohue

When you try and dive a boat, it’s touch and go which direction it comes up when underwater. We needed it just to go straight ahead only for a second, but the force of the water kept changing the boats direction as it dived. Both Gary Powel and Wade Eastwood took turns continually until we got the shot. It must have taken a million goes!!! Finally Wade got it, it was ‘luck’. No one, no matter who it was, was in charge of the outcome. It was down to Mother Nature.

Where was the sequence filmed?
Docklands and the Thames, London.

Were there any heart-stopping moments during you time on the Bond films, or did everything go to plan?
Heart stopping. Yes! Every time I looked at Simon Crane the stunt co-ordinator! He’s a stunner!

DVD Chapter

"The World is Not Enough"
3. Blazing Boat Chase

Above: A Sunseeker similar to that which appeared in "The World is Not Enough" 1999.


How close to the storyboards and pre-visualisation did the chase end up?
The storyboards just about matched the film. They had been well thought out, there were a few things that were very hard to do with boats which I don’t think they realised just how difficult until they were tried, i.e. the midair barrel roll, but there was such a good team of experts that Simon and Vic got what they wanted in the end. Anything on water always takes over twice as long as expected and is ALWAYS unpredictable.

Bond & Boats

How many Sunseekers did you have for the chase sequences?
We had three to begin with. But then went down to 1 and 1 empty shell to blow up at the Dome. There was a new one ready to go just in case but they told me to keep my ‘paws off it!’ I think they thought me to be destructive!!

How did the Sunseeker compare to the other boats you have driven?
The Sunseeker... Well I’d like to sing it’s praises but to be honest I can’t. Every time I pushed it to the limit, I broke it. The drives went. It is a pleasure boat after all and is perfect for what it is built for. But it is not built for full speed 180 lock turns as the drives got smashed to pieces, but had the Volvo drives been changed for Mercruiser racing drives and the transom been strengthened then it would’ve caused a lot less hassle. They are made to be punished! It served its purpose and Sunseekers are definitely the best boats in the World by far. But they are made for pleasure not for extremities and James Bond...

Keep an eye out for the final part of the interview where we continue chatting the "The World is Not Enough" pre-credit sequence...

Many thanks to Sarah Donohue.

Related Articles:
Interview - Sarah Donohue (Part 2)
MI6 "The World is Not Enough" Coverage
Sarah Donohue's Official Website