encouraged. ‘The studio was pretty upset about it.’ says the producer. ‘but I knew Nic was prepared. I talked to our stunt co-ordinator and he said Nic’s as good a driver as any of our guys. Nic is a not a risk taker. he won‘t get himself into a situation he doesn‘t think he can handle. He‘s not one of those macho guys who jumps off the cliff without looking.”

Although he enjoyed the challenge of stunt driving. Cage found he didn‘t enjoy the actual experience very much. Since finishing Gone In 60 .S'eeonds. therefore. he has focused on the therapeutic qualities of race-track driving. ‘I don‘t really like stunt driving.‘ says the actor. ‘lt rattles and rocks you around. you're doing 360s and 180s. and it looks great. but believe me. it doesn‘t feel great. Race driving feels great. it‘s very emotional. When I get out on the race track. I go through every emotion: I laugh. I cry. I get angry. I start yelling at the car. And at the end of the day I go home and I feel like a man. I‘m relaxed and I've forgotten about all the problems that I was dwelling on. So it's been very good for me to race cars.’

A versatile as well as a gifted actor. (‘age has segued effortlessly from intense. ()scar-winning performances in indie movies like

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Leaving Las Vegas to action roles in popcorn movies. He initially resisted Jerry Bruckheimer‘s offer to star in The Rock. but after Con Air and Gone In ()0 Seconds he sees challenges and attractions in both kinds of films. ‘Sometimes I‘m in the mood for a very formal symphony by Beethoven and sometimes I'm in the mood for be-bop-a-lula.‘ he says. ‘And I'm gonna try to do both. Audiences are smart. they go to the movies. no matter what kind of movie it is. and they wanna see credible performances. if only to make the illusion more real. They wanna believe that this guy really can drive that car that fast.

‘The challenge is that there is a formula to it. and as an actor you have to be very specific and very concise. Do what you want with the character but make sure it serves the structure of the piece and do it within a minimal amount of time. because we have to get this engine rolling. The attraction is. ever since I was a kid I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to be Steve McQueen.‘

Gone In 60 Seconds goes on general release from Fri 4 Aug. More motor mirth in The Cartoon, page 128.


Wheels on reel

The car chase is an archetypal movie ingredient. Here, we lift the bonnet on the top ten moments of celluloid auto-mania. Words: Miles Fielder

Bullitt The best car chase ever? Preceded by a lengthy prowl around San FranCisco’s heights, the chase proper begins With a burning rubber tearaway as Steve McQueen's cop pursues a coople of assassms up and down the City’s ImpOSSlbly steep streets. Steve did his own stunt driVing.

The French Connection

William Friedkin wanted to go One better than Bu/Iitt so he had Gene Hackman’s New York cop chase an elevated train. And they did it for real: Friedkin got in the back seat With a camera and told stunt driver (McQueen's quarry from Bul/itt's chase) to drive top speed thr0ugh mid-town traffic. Head. Case.

Vanishing POint

Barry Newman drives a car 1500 miles non-stop from California to Colorado and immediately accepts a bet to make a return trip in fifteen hours. Being as that’s lOOmph all the way, the cops give chase. The classic downbeat ending inspired The/ma And Loor’se, while Primal Scream conceptualised an album around the film.

Gone In 60 Seconds

The 1974 original culminates (if that’s the correct term) With a lengthy 40 minute car chase. The rest of HB. Halicki’s film is an exercise in wrecking cars throughout Los Angeles. The film's high level of technical detail is unsurprismg: confirmed auto-nut Halicki also wrote, starred, stunt drove and supplied the cars.


A single, continuous 90 minute chase. Steven Spielberg’s film debut (scripted by Richard Stir Of Echoes Matheson) sees Dennis Weaver’s salesman menaced by a huge petrol tanker along a deserted interstate highway. No explanations, and you never see who’s in the truck. Creepy.

Mad Max trilogy

Gangs of psychotic punks scavage post-apocalyptic Australia after the ultimate resource: Oil. Mel Gibson’s Vigilante does battle With them and each film ends With an increasmgly Violent drawn-out chase involvmg cars customised With spikes, harpoons, fuel injection, etc. Many stunt drivers, more injuries.

Capricorn One

Not so much a chase as a runaway automobile. Havmg uncovered a fake moon landing conspiracy, JOurnaIist Elliot GOUId’s car is tampered with (inexplicable acceleration, failing breaks, engine won’t stall), inconveniently in the midst of a City rush hour. Plenty of thrilling pOint-of-View shots.

The Italian Job

Possibly the most ludicrous car chase of them all (and that’s saying something). Michael Caine and his gang of thieves get away after a gold bullion heist in three Mini Coopers, which they drive all over (rooftops) and under (sewers) Turin. Funnin enough, the script was written by the chap who originated Z Cars.

The Driver

Walter Hill's eXistential crime mOVie pits Ryan O'Neal’s ace getaway driver against Bruce Dern’s obsesswe cop. High speed action With the all-important ice cold driver at the wheel: surt, sun glasses,

gloves, but no sweat. Top scene sees O'Neal demolish a car in an underground garage merely to make a pomt.


Three high speed set-pieces and not much plot: 1) free-falling elevator, 2) bus with bomb on board that’ll detonate if the vehicle drops below 50 mph; 3) runaway subway train The ingenious bus scenario —- full of innocents, Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves' SWAT cop —- works best.

Lost Highways: An ///ustrated History Of Road Movies is published by Creation priced £14.95. FilmFour’s Road Movres season begins Fri 21 Jul

20 Lil—3 Aug 2000 THELIST 15