You probably don’t know Chris Corbould by name, but you certainly know his work. With more than four decades of special effects experience under his belt, Corbould left his mark on the likes of The Who’s Tommy (his first industry gig), Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (where he helped develop the Tumbler Bat vehicle, among other things), and the James Bond franchise, including the latest installment, No Time to Die, which is now scheduled to release in theaters on October 8 (his 15th Bond film to date).
As No Time to Die‘s special effects and action vehicle supervisor, Corbould and his team were responsible for bringing the film’s action sequences and car chases to life on the big screen. We spoke with Corbould, who shared his thoughts on No Time to Die, the new Land Rover Defender, and his past Bond work.
How was it working with the new Land Rover Defender as one of the cars in No Time to Die?
It was an interesting exercise because Jaguar Land Rover really had to pull out all the stops to get the vehicles ready for our shooting schedule. I think we had eight Defenders in the end. There was a pretty brutal shoot in the field that really put the Defenders through their paces, going down steep hills and through rivers and through bogs, and jumping.
What specific modifications were done to the vehicles?
We got involved with the stunt requirements, which were the rollcages, the hydraulic hand brakes that you have to put in, the fire extinguishers, the small fuel tanks.
How did the Defenders fare through filming No Time to Die?
Oh, they were actually amazing. They’re built really well and handled the terrain fantastically. When we do the filming, we actually have to disable a lot of the safety things to get it to work—otherwise, we would probably never be able to do what we wanted to in the film if the safety features were all on. So we had to work with Jaguar Land Rover and turn certain safety features off just so we could achieve what we wanted to.
Which James Bond film was the most challenging for you?
There’s no such thing as an easy Bond film, but a particularly challenging one was the chase on the ice lake in Die Another Day. When we first got into production, I immediately talked with the second unit director, and I said, “Look, I think we both agree we need the four-wheel-drive versions of [these cars].”
I went down to the Aston Martin factory and said: “We would love to use Vanquish. Can we have the four-wheel-drive versions?” And they said, “You could if we had one.” And it was the same story at Jaguar. It had no four-wheel-drive version of the XKR. So we ended up adapting four Aston Martin Vanquishes and four Jaguar XKRs—modified the front ends—and made our own four-wheel-drive cars.
What’s one of the stranger moments in your film career?
The tank chase in GoldenEye originally started off as a bike chase. And I got called into the producer’s office one day with the director, and they asked me, “Chris, how can we improve this bike chase?” And I said: “Well, how can you? Get rid of it. Put him in something else. He’s in a military park. Why can’t he get in a tank?” That whole sequence spurred from that one conversation.
Has your job affected your own car-buying habits?
Not at all, really. I’ve got three tractors at home, and I’ve got a pickup, and I’ve got a Brabus Smart car. I love my tractors. I know that sounds really weird, but when I’ve had a really hard day at work, to go out on the tractor on a lovely summer’s evening and drive around and do stuff—that’s my world.
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