Stunt performer Rick English has made his mark on the industry from fight scenes to motorcycle stunts. We spoke to him about his career highlights and his favourite Triumph Motorcycles.
How long have you been doing stunts and how did you get into stunt riding?
I remember watching a film about Evel Knievel called Viva Knievel when I was about six or seven, and I thought it looked really cool and that it was definitely what I wanted to do when I grow up - but it’s not a viable career option in the view of your teachers! It was only later on that I realised it could be something I could make a living from but also really love what I was doing.
What has been your favourite film to work on?
The Mission Impossible franchise has been good for me, as has the Fast and Furious franchise but Bond is always a dream job for any stunt guy, and I’ve been lucky enough to work on four of the last five Bond movies, so four of the Daniel Craig series, which is pretty special to be honest.
On the last Bond movie, No Time to Die, I was out in Matera with Paul Edmondson and the guys and I was riding the Tiger 1200 with a guy on the back firing at Bond! It’s such a cool landscape out there but also super-tricky riding because of the surface. It’s like polished stone floor everywhere and so grip was always an issue, especially with a big guy on the back with a machine gun as we were flying around these streets and up and down steps. It was pretty challenging but definitely a lot of fun and an epic sequence to be involved with.
What bikes have you stunted on in movies and what are your favourites?
I’ve ridden quite a lot of Triumphs. I’ve ridden a Street Triple a few times - that’s a good all- round bike out the box - you can throw that thing around, it’s got just the right amount of power. You get good torque that lets you play around and wheelie it really easily but then it also doesn’t run out of steam so has a good balance. I like both the Speed and the Street Triple but I would have to say that the Street Triple is my favourite. What we usually do in movies is low speed, first and second gear, so the Street Triple is plenty in terms of power and speed.
I’ve used the Scrambler 1200 straight out the box a few times and literally the vehicle guys have said to me “What modifications do you need to make to it – do we need to change the gearing?” and for me there’s nothing - literally scrub the tyres in, scrub the brakes in and it’s good to go. I’m riding one on a show at the moment and we haven’t touched it, we haven’t made any mods to it at all, that’s a good bike.
What’s the most challenging stunt you’ve done?
They’ve all got their own challenges. A lot of people say to me, even racers, how do you crash a motorcycle on purpose? And for me it’s just a question of focusing completely on the technique of what I’m doing. I know that I have to hit that mark, I have to turn the bike right, I have to hit the back brake and then I have to wait for this to happen and then release the brake. I have it all as a process rather than thinking I’m going to crash.
You said you’d done a bit of racing when you were younger, what did you race?
I used to race Supersport 600s at club level. About 20 years ago I finished racing and went more into trick riding. I still ride on the track now, I try to ride every sort of genre of motorcycle, so I’ll do track days, trick riding, supermoto and a bit of motocross and flat track... I love it all, and it all translates across.
Who would you say inspires you?
When I was growing up it had to be Eddie Kidd. He was the British version of Evel Knievel, and he was well known for doing these massive motorcycle jumps over buses. I got to meet him about 15 years ago at work and I chatted to him about going to see his show when I was young. On the British Stunt Register you have to put up a picture that displays your talents and I literally recreated a picture I had of Eddie Kidd where he was doing this cool wheelie. I showed it to him when we met and he signed it for me. And in the racing world I would say Barry Sheene - definitely those two for sure. Inspirational guys.