Bobby Holland Hanton’s life changed forever when he watched Bond film Casino Royale.
As the credits rolled, he spotted the name of an old friend, Marvin Campbell.
Bobby told LADbible: “I was like, ‘hold on a minute, s***, I know that guy and he’s doing stunts on a James Bond movie, what do I do?'”
Growing up in Portsmouth, UK, Bobby dreamed of being an Olympic gymnast, but this dream died for good when he was 17 due to a fatal combination of growth spurts and back problems.
Bobby subsequently went to college and worked as a plasterer with his uncle, but seeing his old pal and fellow gymnast working on a 007 film inspired him to put the talents he’d nurtured growing up to good use.
In order to register as a stunt double, you have to be elite at six of 12 skills, and Bobby was already adept at three of these: gymnastics, trampolining and 10 metre high diving. But before he could even complete his kickboxing, swimming and scuba diving training, he got offered his first role – though he thought it was a wind up initially.
He said: “I literally thought it was a joke, somebody calling me up and doing a prank, because I was training for the stunt register at this point. I had four of my six skills.
“But a stunt coordinator called Gary Powell – he’s one of the biggest stunt coordinators in the world – called me saying he needed someone with an acrobatic skill for the art gallery scene in Quantum of Solace where Bond is fighting and falling down the ropes.
“That scene was actually a much longer scene at the beginning, but it got cut right down. That’s what I got employed for and I was supposed to be on it for five weeks and I ended being on it for six months.”
Since then, Bobby hasn’t looked back, establishing himself as one of the biggest stunt performers in Hollywood. He has doubled for actors such as Henry Cavill, Ryan Reynolds, Channing Tatum and Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as just about all of the Chrises: Pine, Evans and, erm, -tian Bale.
Chris Hemsworth is the Chris he has developed the greatest bond with though, working as an expert on his health and fitness app Centr and as his stunt double for the past eight years – most recently on the highest-grossing film of all time, Avengers: Endgame.
Bobby said: “He’s so down to earth and just one of the lads and we do have the best time on set.
“The fat Thor was definitely a fun experience, but it was difficult. You’ve got a big beard on, you’ve got your wig on, and when we were doing stunts we’d have our stunt pads, the fat suit, the harness, the Thor costume, then you’d have the cape – so it was really f***ing heavy.
“The funny but annoying thing for me was trying to do fights at the end battle with Cap [Captain America], Iron Man, Thor, fighting with Thanos.
“All the other lads have got some really cool costumes on and they can move well in them, and Thor’s fat so you’re trying to articulate your body, and I just felt like an idiot trying to keep up with the other boys. You can’t move and you just look stupid.
“That was funny at times – and tripping over because you’ve got this fat belly in the way.”
As you might expect when your job is to get thrown off buildings and hit by cars, Bobby – who is now 35 – has picked up some serious injuries during his career. Just over 10 months ago, he had to have major surgery to repair herniated discs in his back, and before that, he ripped his groin muscles off the bone shooting Thor: Ragnarok.
He also has friends in the business who have been far more seriously injured still – one of whom is now paralysed and another who has lost an arm – but Bobby said he is feeling positive about the year ahead and wants to keep working in the industry for as long as possible.
He said: “It’s in the back of your mind because you never know how long your body is going to keep going for, but it’s up to me to keep myself in the best shape I possibly can to give myself every chance of continuing doing what I’m doing for as long as I can.“