Hollywood's famous stunt director, Andy Armstrong, came down to Bollywood for Hrithik Roshan-Katrina Kaif's Bang Bang and the movie has created history by its sheer brilliance in the action department. We happened to catch the mastermind behind the high flying, adrenaline rushing action sequences and chatted with him about his experience working with Hrithik Roshan, his thoughts on Tom Cruise and more. Excerpts from the interview...
How was your experience working for a Bollywood film?
My experience working on Bang Bang was very nice. All the action team and I had a great time and enjoyed it very much.
You have worked in big Hollywood projects like Spiderman. You must have experienced everything possible in your work field. What was different when you were directing for Bang Bang?
Well in reality, although I have experienced many things on lots of movies, shooting all over the world, I am still always looking for something new, just as I feel an audience is. Working on a Bollywood movie is very different in lots of ways from working on a movie in Hollywood or Europe or anywhere else but they are all different in their own way. I try always to set up a working arrangement and system that is particular for whatever movie I am doing. I approach each one as a new entity. And so although language is different and some of the equipment might be of a different type or style, generally the actual process of making a movie is relatively the same the world over. It tends to be a similar group of people who might have been of different nationality but ultimately the language of movie making is a pretty universal one.
How different are the working cultures in Hollywood and Bollywood? Are there any similarities that you could tell us about.
Many things are very similar. Some procedures and safety standards are generally more enforced in Hollywood but eventually all the same issues have to be addressed no matter where you shoot a movie. I am extremely strict about safety and avoiding accidents and I bring that same attention to the set no matter where I am working and no matter what nationality the team is. I am also a very firm believer in making ONE singular action team even if all members are from different countries. On Bang Bang we had action team members from India, USA, England, France, Abu Dhabi and Iran but they all worked together as one. I feel that this sort of joint team effort is extremely important. I can’t bare the “them and us” mentality which I have witnessed on some mixed nationality movie sets. On my set, everyone is there for a common purpose and once on the set it doesn't matter where the home country might be, they are simply part of my action team.
You worked with Hrithik Roshan. How is he as an action hero?
Hrithik is a superb action hero! There is little more that can be said. I used to joke with him all the time that if his day job (acting) doesn't work, he can come and work with me as a stunt man. Hrithik is an absolute dream for any action director to get to work with because he can do all the action as good as any stunt man.
Is Hrithik better at any stunts than the Hollywood actors?
There are a few Hollywood actors who are very accomplished at stunts but I have never worked with ANY who are more accomplished than Hrithik. He is simply superb at action!
You must have had seen Tom Cruise performing similar stunts in Knight And Day. Whose stunts did you like more? Hrithik or Tom Cruise's?
Well obviously I am a little biased because I did not do Knight and Day but in my opinion, Hrithik’s action is far greater, cooler and better done than Tom Cruise’s action in Knight and Day.
Bang Bang has crossed 200 crores at the box office. Do you think your action stunts have a great role to play in that?
Selfishly I would like to think so but ultimately I think it’s a good fun movie and quite honestly, I enjoyed the dance numbers every bit as much as the action! I had not seen any of the dances before because when these sequences were being shot I was always in some other location preparing for the next action sequence. So the first time I saw Hrithik or Katrina dance was when I watched the completed movie. I LOVED it! Hrithik is an incredible dancer! This is something I had heard but had not really understood. The dance numbers were truly fantastic. I really enjoyed the movie and came out feeling obviously proud of my team’s work but also feeling great that I had just seen a good fun movie with charming and exciting characters. I am very glad it’s a huge success. The world is very troubled in many places right now and whenever you watch the news or open a newspaper there is always something to depress you so I think to be able to go and see a movie which leaves you feeling good and is a spectacular and fun ride, it’s a very good thing for an audience.
Which was the most difficult stunt that you have ever choreographed in your life?
This is always a difficult question to answer because many of them were extremely difficult. Several of them on Bang Bang were very tough. But I consider each one that I am doing as the most dangerous and difficult thing I have ever done because I feel that’s the only way to ever approach anything because if it goes wrong, someone could die. There were many stunts on Bang Bang which fall into this category and so I feel the most important thing is not so much how difficult they were but how spectacular and how safe they were. And we had nobody seriously injured while my team and I were making Bang Bang. So of that I am very proud.
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