THE ITALIAN JOB
A Driving Personality
American Car of the Year" for 2003, MINI is most certainly a character in
the film. First introduced into the story as the car driven around Philadelphia
by Charlize Theron's character Stella, the tiny cars later are essential to
the film's plot in that they prove to be the perfect vehicles to maneuver in
and out of tight spots and weave through seemingly impossible pathways.
Because he wanted to
use stunt doubles sparingly, Gray felt it was important that the cast members
understand how to drive the cars during the extensive chase sequence. To that
end, Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham and Mos Def went through
extensive driver's training prior to the start of principal photography to
better understand the dynamics of the compact car.
"The training was
great!" recalls producer Donald De Line. "We went out to the Willow
Springs Racetrack past Lancaster with stunt drivers and stunt specialists, and
everybody learned how to control the cars at high speeds. doing controlled
slides, three-sixties, one-eighties and reverse one-eighties."
According to second
unit director Alexander Witt, who was responsible for coordinating many of the
stunts, the actors did a lot of the driving themselves. "Audiences are
getting too sophisticated and they often know when a stunt double is used,"
says Witt. "That's why, whenever possible. Mark, Charlize and Jason were
actually behind the wheel — even during some of the scenes in which the cars
are driven down stairs!"
Stunt coordinator Kurt
Bryant, who worked on "Pearl Harbor" as well as on TV's popular
reality show, "Fear Factor," says that the actors were true sports.
For Mark Wahlberg.
learning to drive a MINI was a mixed bag. "They're really a great car to
drive." he says. "but you don't want to be in the passenger seat
when the stunt driver is showing you how to do the tricks.. .especially after a
Theron, who enjoyed the
challenge of driving school and learning how to really push the MINI to its
limits says. "it's not every day that you get to drive a car on the
sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard over the stars of James Dean and Jean
Seth Green, who
portrays computer genius Lyle, does play the man responsible for manipulating
traffic signals to create havoc on the streets of Los Angeles. "I play the
guy who controls where all the cars, get to go," says Green. "It's a
great ensemble piece, and we had a wild time making it."
Jason Statham, who
portrays Handsome Rob, a genius of sorts with the ladies and behind the
wheel, was able to handle the MINI like a racecar driver. A former Olympic
diver, who represented the UK in the 1980s and early 1990s. Statham put his
athleticism to the test in driving school and says he loved every minute of his
"I was really in
my element," recalls the actor. "The new MINIs are almost like an
elaborated sort of go—cart.
For Mos Def, who
portrays explosives expert Left-Ear. working on "The Italian Job"
actually gave him the opportunity to get his driver's license. "We took
courses, learning how to do doughnuts and stuff." remembers
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