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Marlow Warrington Mattei tells us about his stuntwork on Age of Ultron, Dracula Untold, Kingsman, Jupiter Ascending and more!

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marlowTop Hollywood stuntman Marlow Warrington Mattei has been a part of pretty much every blockbuster shot in the UK in the last few years. Performing in the likes of Skyfall, Captain America and Thor, he’s full of absolutely amazing stories about his many thrilling feats, like fighting a thousand guys and getting blasted by a flame thrower!

His work is showcased in Dracula Untold – out in the UK on the 3rd of October – where he doubles for vampiric star Luke Evans in some awesome and intense sounding battles. The film may also be the first in Universal’s plan for a linked movie monster universe.

Marlow took time out from all his fighting and leaping to tell us everything about his incredible career thus far. So check that your safely strapped in and read on for cool stunt work stories and the inside view on forthcoming movies like Dracula Untold, Kingsman, Jupiter Ascending and even Avengers: Age of Ultron.

 

Hiya Marlow! So what are you working on right now? Is it Avengers: Age of Ultron? If so, who are you doubling and what have you seen and been up to?

I was great to work on Avengers: Age of Ultron, even though it was short term due to starting Tarzan at the same period. I was very happy to get to do a great stunt which will be exciting to see on the big screen when released!

But the main project I have been working on for the last few months is Tarzan directed by David Yates with a superb cast, Alex Skarsgard as lead playing Tarzan, Margot Robbie as Jane and then, last but not least: Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and many more AMAZING actors!

I grew up watching Bond and Tarzan, they were my two favourite by a mile so it was a great pleasure to be involved in such a great production. I was mainly doing stunts for an ape which I can’t really elaborate on too much right now… But Tarzan is action packed with some spectacular sequences!

 

You’ve already worked on other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what has been your favourite Marvel film to work on and why? Do you have a favourite superhero?

They are all as amazing as each other, Marvel comics are every boys dream right?! I think my favourite characters of the Avengers are Hulk and Captain America! I think you’re pretty set if you had them by your side!

It was great working on Thor: The Dark world. They are all action packed with so many cool superheroes. It was a fantastic experience and then I moved on to Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton which was one of the most physical jobs I have done in my career.

We had just over a month’s prep to get physically ready for wearing the exo suits which were about 35 kg’s and the tank suit was close to double that. We had to run up and down sand dunes, shuttle running, games of tag, sprint races… Gruelling conditioning but worth every minute! I got extremely fit doing this prep phase, changing my diet completely to suit a heavy cardio based work out day-in day-out! The film looked amazing and I enjoyed every moment of working on such a massive project as one of Tom Cruise’s squad members.

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You told me you had also doubled for Luke Evans on Dracula Untold, which is released this October. What is Luke like, and how closely did the two of you work together?

Luke is such a great guy. We worked very closely on Dracula Untold as it is such an action packed film. Luke was in a lot for stunt rehearsals to go through the many fight sequences he had to learn as his character was such a killing machine.

He already came with some great knowledge of sword work after having spent one year in New Zealand on the Hobbit and on top of that Luke has an incredible memory for fight routines. We would show him a major and complex fight sequence and just like that he would memorise it.

He was also in fantastic shape so I had to alter my diet before starting the film as I was shown progress pictures of his training results. It was great but very demanding as I would have to rehearse all day going through many different fight routines and all their variations, practice jerk backs and various stunts (on wires) and then at the end of the day go and hit the gym with some insane workout. The results were brilliant though and it helped me stay motivated when I saw that I was on track and that all the hard work was paying off!

 

You’ve also worked on a couple of other films I’m looking forward to seeing this year: Jupiter Ascending and Kingsman, what can you tell me about your work on those?

Jupiter and Kingsman are two films I am very excited about watching. It was great to work with Channing on Jupiter, he is such a cool guy! The sets they built were truly phenomenal with an element of green screen which always makes it hard to 100% visualise your surroundings but you just know it’s going to be visually spectacular especially with Andy and Lana Wachowski writing and directing the film. I actually just saw the trailer recently and as expected it looks amazing. Working with the Wachowski’s was a great accomplishment for me as I am a big fan of the Matrix films which were really cutting edge.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is another one that will be action packed as I’m sure you can tell from the trailer! Brad Allan is an awesome second unit director. He spent many years in Hong Kong working as part of the Jackie Chan stunt team so he really knows how to make an action sequence come alive on camera Hong Kong style.

 

And what about Skyfall? As a stunt man it must be a dream come true working on a Bond film?

A total dream come true. Working on Skyfall which was the 50th anniversary Bond to top it off was such an honour. Being one of Javier Bardem’s henchmen standing side by side such a great actor walking around Skyfall with our weapons, watching the building go up in flames and blow up with the sound of a Merlin helicopter flying just over my head shooting an enormous 50 cal machine gun at the house was something I will always remember.

I was also extremely fortunate enough to be a part of the opening sequence which was shot in Istanbul. Running and jumping out of the cars in the chase was actually a lot harder than usual because I caught myself wanting to watch the cars crash into one another through the whole take as if it were a live show! As a Bond fan that will definitely be one of my fondest memories.

 

Being British, were you inspired by the stunt work in the Bond movies growing up at all?

As a kid I was a James Bond fanatic thanks to my grandfather who used to work for the British government and actually thought he was Bond himself!

He had the whole set of Bond movies on VHS that we would watch over and over again when I would visit him. Jaws was actually by far my favourite villain and I was extremely sad to hear he has passed away very recently. From car chases to gadgets to fights, the James Bond films have always been at the top for me and really giving me the itch to do stunt work.

 

How did you get started in this line of work?

 

Well my Uncle has been a stuntman for over 30 years and as a teenager watching him do stunts on films such as Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, Braveheart or Golden Eye made me get the bug and want to follow in his footsteps.

I started playing rugby at 14 in France and before I knew it I was in England playing for the NEC Harlequins in their England Academy and eventually for England U19’s which was surreal.

When I was 20 years old the club went down a division and I got released. I had to make a tough decision of either carrying on trying to pursue rugby or go into stunts like I always wanted to. After three and half years of training in kickboxing, rock climbing, trampolining, gymnastics, scuba diving and the most hardcore swim test I have ever done, here we are today.

I mean, I was put through a lot of hard work playing rugby but the stunt training was by far one of the most physically and mentally challenging moments of my life. After all of that though it was an extremely proud moment to be accepted onto the Equity British Stunt Register.

Marlow about to be taken up on the wires to come crash landing in, taking out the other character

Marlow about to be taken up on the wires to come crash landing in, taking out the other character

How does a stuntman get a part? I’m sure they don’t make you audition, so does it come down to your resemblance to actors in the film and/or your previous experience?

Actually the audition process still happens. Some stunt coordinators that you haven’t worked for may want to see you in person performing a fight routine or a particular stunt to see your physical resemblance to the actor and how you move as a performer.

I had to audition for a few doubling parts on John Carter for Dominic West and also for Wrath of the Titans doubling Sam Worthington. Then depending on the scripts and what action is required by the actor there may be more than one double on the film which actually happens quite regularly.

There are actually times where stunt performers have to audition for small parts where they might have a little dialogue and may be in the duration of the film as a henchman or part of the actor’s group.

I had to go to London for an audition for Edge of Tomorrow to deliver some lines to a casting agency for being in Tom Cruise’s squad. That was very nerve racking but I got the part and it was one of the best jobs I have done.

 

Do you have any stunt work specialties?

I definitely do a lot of fight related stunt work which I really enjoy. I was given a great opportunity onDracula Untold to perform some of the best and longest fight sequences I have ever done. There is one fight in particular called “The 1000 Man Fight” where Dracula takes on a thousand Turkish soldiers. This fight took months to prepare for the shear precision needed to link one move after another in order for it to flow. In total it was a fight against almost twenty-five stunt performers and it was INSANE!

I am really looking forward to seeing the end result on the big screen on the 3rd of October after seeing some little teasers online!

But the most important specialty, in my opinion, in any stunt work is to be switched on, precise, consistent, have good visualisation and lots of energy when performing.

 

What’s your all-time favourite stunt committed to film?

That’s a very hard question! There are so many amazing stunts that have been done over the years. I think the ones that really stand out to me are the crane chase sequence on Casino Royale, the motorbike chase on the rooftops of Istanbul on Skyfall, the Aston Martin and Jaguar chase on ice in Die Another Day.

One of the biggest death-defying stunt sequences I’ve seen is on The Dark Knight Rises in the aerial sequence where all the skydivers are releasing Bane in mid-air. That was an AMAZING death-defying stunt sequence!

 

Is there any particular stunt you’ve always wanted to do?

That’s a pretty tough one actually. Dracula Untold was definitely a ticked box in regards to a fight sequence! Being able to charge through twenty-five stunt performers spinning in and out of oncoming blades, disarms, arm breaks, with superhuman powers launching people over 10 feet in the air was definitely a dream come true and doesn’t happen that often, so it was a real honour.

There are quite a few stunts I would love to do for sure. There are some directors and stunt coordinators out there that have an amazing imagination for coming up with new stunts and action sequences that have never been done before. The whole point is to have people on the edge of their seats while they’re watching.

What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever attempted?

 

Well you kind of forget how badly things could go when you’re doing a stunt as you have complete faith in your Stunt Coordinator, stunt team and your rigging team, rehearsing for months at a time to try and eliminate any nasty surprises.

They are the people that kept me safe when I was hanging 70 foot upside down off a crane, or there for my safety when I had special effects using a flame thrower as a dragon breathing a 12 foot fire ball covering me from head to toe on Maleficent.

Safety and precaution is number one in the back of everyone’s mind and taken extremely seriously.

Marlow’s POV of what was coming charging at him for the 1000 man fight.

Marlow’s POV of what was coming charging at him for the 1000 man fight.

Have you had any injuries?

Touch wood… luckily so far I haven’t had any majors at work. It’s more the wear and tear and the niggles that end up getting to you at times. Over time taking hits on your back, rope burns, the occasional bang on the head you end up being at the physio and chiropractor regularly to stay on top of things!

 

Do you still get scared before doing stunts?

I don’t really get scared of doing the stunt “so to speak” as you rehearse and rehearse until everything is safe and right. However sometimes you may be asked to do something last second which requires 100% trust in your own ability and knowing that you can do it. That’s where I use visualisation to help and so far it’s worked pretty well.

I think the scariest part of doing a stunt really is to not let your team down. You want it to look awesome and everyone to be really happy with it for the sake of the film.

 

Is it strange seeing a finished film that you’ve worked on?

Yes, it is very strange. I find myself being over critical sometimes and find it hard to switch off and just sit back and enjoy the film for what it is. But either way it’s great to finally see the end result of months and months of hard work!

 

Do you have anyone in the industry that you look up to? I interviewed Zoe Bell earlier this year and she was incredible to talk to.

There a few people in the industry to say the least that I look up to for many various reasons. I try and take on board as much as I can from everyone I work with. There is so much talent in Britain from 2nd unit directors to stunt coordinators and performers, I think it’s easy to say that we have one of the strongest stunt scenes in the world along with the USA. The proof is all the big blockbusters coming to be filmed here in the UK.

You never stop learning, and the more you do the more you learn, so I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to work with such amazing people and learn from some of the best in world!


Huge, huge, death-defying thanks to Marlow for taking the time to do this interview. I can’t wait to see his incredible sounding work in Dracula Untold – which is released in the UK on the 3rd of October.

I very much look forward to hopefully catching up with him again soon.

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