Deadpool 2 may bring the humor with Ryan Reynolds' Merc with a Mouth wisecracking his way through a personal mission to save a young mutant from Josh Brolin's time-traveling Cable, but it's also a film full of incredible action sequences -- especially those on wheels.
One of the major scenes in the film centers around Wade Wilson/Deadpool along with his team, X-Force, attempting to break young Russel Collins/Firefist out of a prison-transfer convoy. The scene is huge in scale, with the heroes parachuting into the action only for things to go from the sky to the streets with an impressive all-out assault on the convoy. The scene is intense, engaging, and clearly required some serious driving skills and that's where stunt driver Andrew Comrie-Picard comes in.
Hollywood stunt driver, champion rally and off-road racer, X Games medalist and BFGoodrich performance team member, Comrie-Picard has made a career out of driving stunts in some of the most thrilling sequences in movies, including Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde. Recently, Comrie-Picard sat down with ComicBook.com to talk about all things stunt driving-related. From how he got into the business, what it was like driving stunts on Deadpool 2, the serious issues of safety with movie stunts, and even tips for how to be your own performance driver, Comrie-Picard revealed that there's a lot more to those epic scenes than just getting behind the wheel.
Keep reading to learn everything you ever wanted to know about stunt driving, how to get the most out of your own driving adventures, why tires like Advantage T/A Sport and KM3 matter, and what makes that convoy assault scene in Deadpool 2 even more epic than it looked on screen -- even without the magic of CGI.
ComicBook.com: What is the biggest thing people need to know about stunt driving they see in movies?
Andrew Comrie-Picard: Yeah, well, it's hard. The challenge is really preparing on the day when you actually do the stunt. It's just a final period at the end of a very long sentence or paragraph of preparation. We spend days and weeks preparing the vehicles, preparing the practicing and setting up the scenario, doing things like preparing the tires, and making sure that we have the right kind of traction situation, whether we're on dirt, or whether we're going to be on a slippery road. I did the movie Atomic Blonde a couple years ago, which ended up being on sleet and snow. You just really need to prepare. So the biggest challenge is making sure that you're extremely well prepared, and that on the day you can be calm and trust all the equipment and experience that you have.
Wow, you said driving for Atomic Blonde was on sleet? I know you did driving for Deadpool 2. Were there any unique or specific conditions in driving for that movie?
Some of the biggest challenges of Deadpool 2 were actually just the scale of it. That we took over most of downtown Vancouver for an entire weekend, which was completely off the hook. And actually one of the challenges of Deadpool, one of the interesting challenges, with CGI in some places we were flying cars around things that weren't there yet, you know? We had to integrate that into the stunt driving, into the stunt plan, stunt coordinators on that movie were just amazing.
Speaking of CGI movies, I know a lot of movies, particular the big action movies, or the superhero type movies, do rely a lot on CGI, in order to get some of those amazing visual effects. How do you think that has changed stunt driving in movies, or do you think it's been like a benefit or more of a hindrance, or is just a larger challenge in general?
That's a really interesting question. Look, it makes the movies much more exciting to watch, and it means that at the fringe we don't have to take such enormous risks as maybe we were before CGI was believable looking. We were trying to have a bigger, believable, actual stunts. But the truth is there's also an authenticity to stunt stuff that doesn't use CGI. If you take a movie like Baby Driver, or in fact Atomic Blonde, we're doing real hits, and real stuff. The grittiness that comes out of an authentically performed stunting versus a sort of sensationalness that comes out of CGI connective thing. It's a different character now. So on the one hand, CGI has probably fixed some of our knacks, but on the other hand its made sort of a new genre of authentic, gritty action that's really exciting too.
How did you get into stunt driving? I know that just from getting some background information on you, that you do more than stunt driving. So tell me how you got into it, and what you do outside of making those awesome car scenes in movies?
Right. So probably the greatest lesson for me is that I grew up on a farm in rural Canada, in Alberta, Canada. And that meant that there really weren't that many rules, so at age seven I was bombing around fields in a pick-up truck, and getting it stuck, and actually rolling it over. I remember, I had ... It's one of my earliest memories, All Terrain T/A tires on that, and I remember plugging through the mud, and sliding around in the dirt, and really learning about traction, and that kind of stuff, really kind of ... That's how I cut my teeth, and became the kind of driver that not only could execute, or be a racer in the first place, but then execute these stunts as well, but have all that intuitive stuff that you can't teach anybody, that you have to learn by putting tires down on the ground and understanding how to make a car move, and how to have traction, and that's all that ...
I feel very blessed that I kind of grew up in a place mess around and do that. As far as the other stuff that I do, it's all kind of grown organically. I mean the truth is, I would say if you really wanna figure out what to do with your life, just look at what you wanted to do at age 12, or what magazines you were reading, and what you were doing. All I wanted to do when I was 12 is a race car driver and an actor. But again, I was in rural Alberta and not of that seemed very realistic. So I was pretty good at school, so I went off and did a bunch of university degrees. I did five university degrees and became a lawyer. And that lasted for about a hot 10 minutes, because once I got to the law firm, and got enough money to buy a better race car ... I've always been racing something. I raced dirt bikes when I was a kid. Snowmobiles, remote control cars, I was a super serious remote control car racer. I went out in the world when I was 13.
I was sponsored doing that. But then I got this job, because I didn't think it would be realistic to be a race car driver or an actor, and I hated it. And I got enough money to buy a better race car, and I started entering more races, and then I had to go do it full time, really. And once I went through that door, I realized combining ... The best thing to be is good in two areas that you can combine together, right? So I could race the cars, I understood the cars, and I built the cars. And then I could also, thanks to my education, talk about them, so that kind of organically led me into hosting car TV shows. And then that took me to Hollywood, which is where I met people who did stunt coordinating, and stunts. And then they said, "Oh, well you can drive cars, and we trust you, why don't you drive some stunts?" And then that's where I am today.
And if I made it as a career plan going forward, I can't imagine that it would have made any sense, but looking back, it does kind of follow a logical procession. But also I just backed into what I wanted to do when I was 12 years old. When I was messing around in that field on BFGoodrich radial tires, just plugging through the mud, and messing around. I get to do the same thing now as I'm a fully grown ... Mostly grown adult, as I wanted to do when I was 12. And like I said, what I was doing when I was 12.
With most of the stunt driving you take real hits, and I know people will remember that in the making of Deadpool 2, there was an unfortunate, tragic death. What kind of additional safety measures do you guys take when doing those real hits, or some of those stunts to kind of help? You can't really guarantee safety, but to help ensure the safest possible outcome for the stunt performers?
Yeah, that's a great question, I mean ultimately the most important thing is safety, and all the stunt coordinators, and directors, and studios know that, and they work for that. When you have any large moving parts, any film shoot, any TV shoot, there are all kinds of risks you know? And you can't prevent every type of accident, but I have to say, until last year, it's been 18 years since there has been a fatality in the stunt industry. It's generally very safe. I never feel pressured or put in a position to do something where I feel unsafe. And you know I ride cars with other cars, I think that it's a great industry in that it appears to be very risky, but in fact it is not very risky, and I think statistically, okay, it's a little more dangerous than maybe being an accountant, but maybe it isn't. You die of different things.
Is there anything specific you would tell viewers and fans they should look at? Both in direct watching the scenes in Deadpool 2, but in general when looking at stunt scenes with cars in movies. What should people be watching for or paying special attention to?
That's a really interesting question also. I can't actually speak to individual scenes in the movie in part because a movie like that we do as a team. It's a bunch of people driving, and it's not really appropriate for anybody to stand out from the crowd there. But the thing to watch for as you're looking at those movies is, think about the incredible symphony of movement that has to happen. In Deadpool 2 there are scenes where we have 25 stunt cars moving around at the same time, right? And a large truck in the movie. And just think you shut down the downtown area of a city, and suddenly have all these vehicles move in concert, a great stunt coordinator and great director is like a conductor at a symphony, right? Has to have everything move in straight time. Sometimes we're getting counts on the radio, on action these three cars will go, and the three count these other cars will go, and it's like that, you're gonna come in at seven.
It's actually ... Just stop and look at some of the action sequences, and think about how hard it was to get everything synchronized, and then add in that the cameras are moving sometimes. There's a helicopter going over a bridge, let's say, and we're down on the ground, and we have to coordinate the movement of the helicopter against the movement of all the vehicles. It's just crazy. And then something crazy can happen, as did happen. Let's say that a cruise ship suddenly comes through, and you're idling the helicopter, and you've closed down this bridge, and you gotta wait until the ship goes through underneath the bridge. Just the complexity of shooting things at that scale is off the hook. If you go back to a smaller movie like Atomic Blonde where we had control of the street, and we got two moving cars, and a chase sequence or something, and all the parked cars in the way it's simpler.
But in a blockbuster mega action movies, it's just incredible the number of people, and the number of ... And the amount of control, and the amount of intelligence and calmness that it takes to make it happen. Does that make sense?
It does. It sounds very much like the effort, and the thinking, and the planning that goes into these chase, and these stunt sequences is similar to the choreography of a large dance sequence or something.
Oh my gosh, absolutely. And it's not like ... You think it's a movie, if you're making a movie you can do it until you get it right, but you can't. I mean you only have a location shut down ... 'Cause you're stopping people from getting to their homes, for example. You only have the location for so long, you can only burn so much money and so many peoples time. One of the action scene sequences, we had 100 production assistants just to close down all the intersections, and make sure that nobody walked into the set, right? Or walk into the traffic as we're about to do a stunt. So I can't think actually, short of maybe waging war, some kind of situation where you're coordinating so many moving parts simultaneously.
People see movies, they see stunts, obviously it's one of those do not try this at home kids situations, but I've always been told that a big part of your performance as a driver is also your vehicle. It could be just the most basic car in the world, but how you treat it, how it's outfitted, and how you maintain it, really does help with your performance as a driver. Be it just driving your kid to school, or pulling fun tricks in an empty parking lot. What are some things that you would tell people that they really need to really think about with their vehicles if they're wanting to be a stunt driver in their head on their daily commute?
Yeah, don't try this at home is a great disclaimer. You're quite right. So, that's a great question also. There's so much that goes into ... It's amazing the cars work at all. They're incredible machines. They're so complicated, and yet they work like magic just turn the key and they run, right? For me the single ... Every part of the car is important to an extent, but the single most important aspect is the tires. Whether they be maintained, whether they're properly inflated, that they have the correct size. But also that they're the correct tire for the type of usage that you need, and that you're running on a good brand. But people don't realize there are 200 moving parts inside a tire. And they're an incredibly complicated pieces of engineering, but because they vulcanized together into a single round black object, they feel like they're simple or they're all the same.
They're not, they're hugely differentiated, so the truth is I can do a stunt, and I've done stunts in movies, crappy cars, terrible cars. The brakes barely work, or the ... I mean 'cause we're gonna crash them like this, there's a bottom of the whole pile. Obviously if Charlize Theron's in the car with me, and we're doing a stunt, that car's extremely welded up. But in that case if we're driving kind of a crappy car, but always, the thing I'm always so obsessed with is the tires. And that's why I'm a BFGoodrich brand ambassador, that's why I roll on BFGoodrich all the time, on my movie cars, and my race cars. But in terms of how to translate that on to everyday use, you should think back to the same thing.
You need a really good tire that is extremely versatile, like for example, an everyday tire, the Advantage T/A, which is a BFGoodrich tire, you put that on any car, and it enhances it beyond what you can believe. If you add another 200 horsepower to a car, that's not gonna do anything if you can't get the traction to the ground to accelerate, right? If you improve the brakes, it doesn't matter how good the brakes are if you don't have the traction to slow down that three, four, five thousand pounds of metal. You need to have the grip, you need to have the side wall stability, I need to have the water evaporation capability. Tires are everything. And so when I'm saying in your car, whether it's my car, or a race car, or my own street car, it kinda starts in the tires, and they go up from there. And again, that's why I'm always on BFGoodrich.
What had been your favorite stunt that you have done thus far?
That's a tough one, actually. That's really tough. The stuff on Atomic Blonde was really fun. Working with Charlize Theron was amazing. But I think just for sensational scale, one of the earliest things I did. I drove a Lamborghini Mercielago SV670, which may not mean much to you, but the only thing... And it was a $480,000 car, and it was actually hard for me to get the right surface tires on it. Actually I was doing a stunt, all Lamborghini's are named after bulls, and so the stunt was we were gonna be in a bullring, and as the bull fighter ... They had a real bull fighter from Argentina. A bull fighter fighting a bull as the bull passed under the cape he turned into a car, and so I'm driving this car around a bullring with a real bull fighter and a real bull.
And the direction from the director was like, "Right, take the Lamborghini, just twist it out by the wall, and come past the bull fighter." And it was amazing, because I took this half a million dollar car, and four wheeled that car in the dirt, put it out beside the fence, just barely missing the whole edge of the whole bullring, and then went past the bull fighter at 60 miles an hour about 20 times and he didn't flinch. And think about that. There's an all wheel drive half a million dollar car that I get to go and play around with in the dirt, and pass the bull fighter. Doing the opening segment of the show, but for me, there I am 40 odd years old doing exactly ... I'm still a 12 year old in that car.
Deadpool 2 is in theaters now.