Risky business

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A few weeks ago Your Jobs in Scotland told you how to bag your dream job of a stunt performer.

This week, we speak to someone who has done just that. But this is not just anyone – this is Ben Collins, the former Top Gear Stig.

Ben Collins

Having just released his new film, Ben Collins: Stunt Driver, he tells us how he got his career in the fascinating world of stunt driving.

“I fell into stunt driving by accident, literally. I broke four ribs and a bone in my neck when I was racing a GT car around the streets of Bucharest in Romania. I wasn’t fit to compete in a high-G racecar but it opened the door to another career.

“A Nicolas Cage movie called National Treasure 2 was gearing up for the biggest car chase in London’s history and they were looking for a wheelman to help with the action sequence.

Ben Collins2

“I had been sending my CV to anybody in the film industry that would listen and a seasoned stunt co-ordinator was kind enough to recommend me.

“Having competed all my life in one way or another, I’ve developed the ability to flick a switch inside my head to deliver my best performance when I need it most. Competition teaches you some home truths about your character, as well as your level of talent, and failure is a merciless but essential part of that process.

“I completely destroyed three cars in my first season racing, so you might call me a slow learner. But by the end of the year I was able to anticipate trouble before I T-boned it at 120mph, and I started winning races.

“So when I was invited by a stunt co-ordinator to drive an old beater around a derelict part of Pinewood Studios, I knew it was time to switch on regardless of the ribs. I flung the car sideways through a tight alley, then across a swathe of dirt and loose stones, and back on to the tarmac with as much gusto as I could muster.

Ben Collins3

“It got me the job and the next thing I knew I was sitting on the roof of a Mercedes in something called a ‘Pod’, with Nic Cage in the seat below me. All the steering, braking and accelerating controls were diverted to my chair while Nic got on with the acting, and together we tore through the City of London.

“Working with the stunt crew was a humbling experience because every man and woman there had earned their place through a lifetime of dedication to their skill.

“Stunt performers hail from all backgrounds: Motocross riders, Olympic gymnasts, pro-footballers, kickboxing champions – you name it. There’s an enormous level of respect within the team and you need that to
handle what is essentially a risky business.

Ben Collins4

“I’ve been fortunate enough to use my racing experience to get into stunt driving but there’s no set route for getting there. If you want to be a stunt driver, find a way to prove yourself and then drive it like you stole it.”

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