Bourne action hero

Jumping off cliffs and fake beards. Meet the adventurer who’s a stunt double on the Bourne Legacy.
Action scene during the making of the Bourne Legacy with Will Gadd
Scene during the making of the Bourne Legacy © Barry Blanchard
By Tarquin Cooper

Will Gadd is well known among adventurers as a world-class climber and paraglider pilot. But until now his work as a stunt double on the most recent Jason Bourne film has been a classified secret, well, at least, not as well known. Until now that is... We check in with the adventure legend to hear about fake tans, having your own trailer and why life on a Hollywood film set is awesome.

Being a stuntman has got to be a blast. Right?
It's a weird combination of completely frantic madness and then sitting around waiting for the madness to start again. There are a lot of moving parts, and as the 'talent' you're near the top of the pecking order but also get told what to do all the time.

Do climbers love it when film producers call?
My friend Barry Blanchard calls films the 'Money Tree'. Yes, we love it when we get the call, it's a lot of fun mostly. The kind of people who work in TV and film are not boring, they're full on generally! And the money pays for trips to far-off lands.

What was your role in the Bourne Legacy?
I was doubling for Jeremy Renner [the lead]. I grew a really shitty beard so they had to paint one on me, cut my hair and give me a bit of a tan.

Will Gadd goes to work in a helicopter on the Bourne Legacy
Will Gadd goes to work in a helicopter © Will Gadd

Hard work?
I had to race up this ridge with this helicopter flying above. The blades were like 10ft (3m) off my head. That's close! I did the take so many times I was dry heaving in the snow, ready to puke. It was like running intervals for 20 minutes straight. It was a great workout!

Really long hours, the waiting, being a cog in a big machine.

Will Gadd (left) and Jeremy Renner (right) posing for a photo.
Bourne action heroes: Will Gadd and Jeremy Renner © Left: Crispin Cannon/Red Bull Content Pool Right: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/GettyImages

Did you make the cut?
Yeah, twice! The scene of the guy climbing the black cliff on the ridge is me, and the 'Jeremy' just before he jumps the chasm is me too. So much effort goes into producing relatively short sections of films, it's really amazing to see the resources and talent mixing together.

Bragging rights?

Bonus material?
I had my own trailer! I'd wake up in the morning and there would be my trailer with my name on the door and little expresso machine to get fired up before getting in the helicopter to go to work. Any day where you're going to work in a helicopter in the mountains is a good one.

The real Will Gadd is way more interesting than a Hollywood action hero. Check out his most recent adventure here.


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