Idris Elba: The Speed Devil Unleashed

Idris Elba: No Limits takes us into the thrilling world of motorsports, but he isn’t the only actor doing his own stunts.

  • Share:

Idris Elba: The Speed Devil Unleashed
In this brand new four-part series, Idris Elba: No Limits follows the actor as he pushes himself to the max to master some of the toughest speed disciplines in the world, before taking to both land and air to participate in some of the most ferociously fought competitions in sport.

As one of the world’s top and sought-after actors, Hollywood megastar Idris Elba has the world at his feet. Elba is a skilled driver, and he does all his own stunts while filming movies, so he isn’t a stranger to an intense and high-speed car chase.

Something fans may not have known before is that Elba has secretly harboured a life-long passion to enter the world of motorsports. This Discovery Channel four-part series follows Idris Elba as he tries to succeed in these high-intensity arenas in picking up four completely different skill sets where the skills that usually take years to master.

Along the way, Elba will test his body, mind and courage to the absolute limit, before pitting himself against trained professionals. He will be aided by incredible mentors in each of the four disciplines: rally driving, aerobatics, drag racing and land speed records.

As for the element of drama, the attractive superstar has to battle a variety of issues including bad weather, claustrophobia, fear of heights, potholes and other technical problems. This show will reveal Idris Elba like you have never seen him before, armed with no experience but with a whole lot of passion, courage as well as willpower. More reasons to watch this unscripted undertaking series is that Elba is going to attempt to break Sir Malcom Campbell’s Flying Mile record!

The show premiered on 28 July 2016 at 9.55pm on Astro Ch 551 and was shot at locations around the British Isles, Florida and California. The series was broadcast in Summer of 2015 in 220 territories.

In this interview with Idris Elba we see that for him participating is not enough. He is entering each competition with just one thing in mind: the hunger to actually win!

Can you explain man’s fascination with machines and speed?
I think at the seat of it is that man has two arms and two legs and can only move at a certain speed, so there’s a fascination with being able to invent or create some sort of machinery that can take you higher, faster, further, and I happen to be one of those people who's really interested in that. I'm really interested in how quickly I can travel using another machine and I think the obsession is just that man wants to be bigger than he is. In my case, I'm just really curious about what I can push my body to do. I’ve always felt that you can use more brain power than we apparently can use, so I want to test that theory and this show was a really good experiment for me to understand what I could do and what I wouldn’t do.

How did you deal with your fears of heights and claustrophobia while filming?
It was definitely a challenge. I think with this show we tried to be authentic and you can definitely see that I'm uncomfortable with my fear of heights, especially in the plane sequences. I'll be honest, I did not enjoy doing that but it was a challenge and you'll see that. It was one of the best challenges I overcame because I was very vocal about not wanting to do it. Then the claustrophobia, well the plane was tiny so not only was I claustrophobic in this tiny little cockpit, but I was like a million miles up in the air wishing I wasn’t there. Eventually, I just dealt with it and sort of conditioned myself to just look good for the cameras.

In what machine did you feel most comfortable?
The rally car… The rally car is my most comfortable because I've been dreaming of being a rally driver for most of my life. I’ve always wanted to do that so when I got into it – I love to drive by the way; driving is one of my favorite things to do – the rally car was the most comfortable and the most familiar to me.

Do you consider yourself a fearless man?
No, I'm not fearless, that’s for sure. As you'll see from this show I definitely have a healthy slice of fear in my personality, but I'm not afraid to challenge that at all. Some people don’t like rollercoasters and don’t need to do it, but me, I might not like them but I don’t fear them.

Do you still find acting challenging?
Yeah for sure…Every role is a challenge. As an actor from a very early age I always wanted to reinvent myself every single time so Stringer Bell is very different from Luther and Mandela and Star Trek. I’ve always want to reinvent and the challenge is to try and lose oneself, you know, try to disappear within the role and yeah it’s very challenging. It’s not as challenging as flying an airplane and doing aerobatics. That is way more challenging. But reinventing a character… I've got the same body and same face, how do I change that, that’s the biggest challenge.

On the topic of stunts, here are some other actors who also take pride in doing their own stunt work but occasionally things can get a little hazardous and risky. 

Most Hollywood actors are prohibited from doing all but the simplest stunts, because of the film studio's insurance policies. But some actors still demand to be in the thick of the action.


Death-defying Daredevils in Film

Tom Cruise

Background: Cruise almost always insists on performing all his own stunts in his films. From fire, water, explosions, and weapons and as many of us have seen, in the Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation movie, he does his stunts even at knee-buckling heights and on airplanes.

Danger Zone: Cruise scaled the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. We don’t know about you but when we watched this scene, we broke into a cold sweat. Cruise actually fired his insurance company so he could fulfil his stunt-man fantasies as he ran, slide, crawled and flew around the building for eight days. Dangling from a 1,700 perch, he did have a helicopter-bound harness but this could easily be his most frightening stunt. Another legendary stunt Cruise did was when he was harnessed to an A400m Airbus, experiencing pounding wind velocity on the exterior of a flying airplane. Even with all the safety measures in place, he could have easily met his fatal end with any projectile particle or slightly unhinging of the cameras, which could have ended his life. Fun fact: Cruise even flew the F-14 three times while filming Top Gun and made sure they had it in his contract.

Jackie Chan

Background: Which ‘90s kid doesn’t recall watching Jackie Chan perform his own stunts and immediately begging their parents to sign them up for karate or Kung Fu classes? He isn’t only an actor who performs his own stunts but he also looks out for his fellow talent. In the 1980s, Chan formed the Jackie Chan Stunt Team which has had several members join the ranks and make it to the movies. He’s also a stunt director while even appearing as a stunt double for multiple actors. In 1999, he released a documentary title Jackie Chan: My Stunts which showed audiences how to perform a number of his stunts on a budget. He's been called insane and has spent most of his life almost dying, yet almost all of Jackie's ridiculous stunts were necessary.

Danger Zone: Throughout the dozens of dangerous stunt scenes the actor has had to film, Chan has performed almost all without the aid of a stunt double (though it has caused him a serious injuries from broken fingers, toes, ribs, hips and more). In 1998, in Who Am I?, a film co-written and co-directed by Chan himself, he slides down a 21-story skyscraper without the help of a safety harness. Chan even manages to get up on his feet and run a few steps down the side of this building. Chan suffered his worst injury when filming a scene from a Hong Kong comedy Armour of God in 1986 as he jumped from a wall to a tree branch; he missed and fell head-first onto the ground causing his skull to crack! This injury required emergency brain surgery.

Angelina Jolie

Background: If you didn’t already think Jolie was a total badass, she even does 99% of all her own stunts. For the film Salt, to prep for fight scenes, Jolie had to learn a combination of Muay Thai and Krav Maga, which she did for two-hour sessions, three to even four times a week. Some prominent stunts include walking on a narrow ledge atop a 12-story building and diving through an opening door while shooting a gun. As a plus, the rigorous exercise regimen required for stunt work helped Jolie get back into shape after a pregnancy.

Danger Zone: Angelina Jolie cut her nose very severely when she was filming a scene in Salt while jumping across a highway overpass and onto a semi-truck during a fight scene. While she was filming a scene in which she had to roll across the floor with her gun, Jolie managed to bash herself in the face and slice herself bad enough to leave a permanent scar. She even performed her own stunts while filming Maleficent, where an action sequence required her to be suspended above the ground before flinging herself into the air.

Jason Statham

Background: Before the buff Hollywood superstar was on the big screen, he was a diver for the British National Team. His experience probably helped with his stunts on The Expendables 3, which went sour and he found himself driving a truck off a dock or having to escape and swim to shore. He has been doing all his own stunts since the start of his career. Statham was also on record being critical of younger actors in Marvel-type movies who do their stunts against green screen and with body doubles. He has a lot more respect for actors like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger who put their bodies on the line for the sake of realism.

Danger Zone: One of Statham’s craziest stunts occurred on set of The Expendables 3, when he’s driving a truck that he’s supposed to stop on a dock before getting out. Unfortunately the truck wasn’t able to stop and went straight into the ocean with Statham still behind the wheel. He was a trooper and did not panic, swam to the surface and finished the scene.

Harrison Ford

Background: During the filming of the Indiana Jones films, Harrison Ford did a number of his own stunts and also improvised scenes. The most famous on the spot scene was when Indiana was supposed to be fighting a swordsman but just pulls out his pistol and shoots the man. Harrison actually had food poisoning that day and wanted the scene to end hastily. Ford was in his mid-sixties when he filmed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but he didn’t let a few stiff joints stop him from doing his own stunts.

Danger Zone: Indy does end up fighting next to a movie plane and the plane does really hit Ford which caused extreme damage when it ran over his knee, damaging the ligaments. Ford did not check into a Tunisian hospital, yet he opted to simply wrap and ice his injury and go on filming. As Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he was rushed to the hospital after the door of the Millennium Falcon spacecraft fell and struck his leg. But not even that could convince the 73-year-old Ford to let stunt doubles take his place for the rest of filming.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Background: Before becoming the Governor of California, Schwarzenegger did all his own stunt work in many of his films, notably the Conan movies and Commando, because it was so difficult to find a double that resembled him.

Danger Zone: The big guy wrestled a wolf, fallen from a 40-foot tower and even jumped off a plane before. He jumped off a plane’s landing gear at 70mph and he even got pretty banged up on the shoot while performing this stunt. Being the OG of action actors, Schwarzenegger was still taking care of bad guys at 64 in The Last Stand.

  • Share:


Related Articles

Back to top