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KNIGHT AND DAY

Action The Stunts And Special Effects
From its opening moments, Knight and Day features a continuous flow of imaginative action sequences that not only ratchet up the suspense but become an entrée into Roy and June's hearts and minds. From a motorcycle doing wheelies through a running herd of Spanish bulls to a funny-yet-furious Smart Car chase through downtown Seville, nearly every frame of the film required extensive stunt choreography and special effects planning.

The film's most nail-biting sequences all came together with the creative assistance of stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz and second unit director Brian Smrz. "They're brilliant at action and were really helpful in planning and staging,” says Mangold. "And frankly, there was no other way to do these sequences.”

In Salzburg, Austria, one of the film's most harrowing escape sequences starts on an urban rooftop, where Roy is trapped, with no way out except to fly across a yawning abyss high above the city at night. "We had just 36 hours to rig, prepare and shoot that scene in the dark, on a rainy night, but it came off perfectly, which was very satisfying,” says Gregg Smrz.

The sequence was designed not only for sheer suspense but as a way of getting inside Roy's character. Explains Mangold: "You really feel the loneliness of Roy up there on the roof with this whole web of law enforcement and spy organization swarming on the ground down below. It feels like has no place to run and no place to move – and then he takes a leap.”

Cruise vividly recalls executing this sequence, without a harness, ending in a spectacular, controlled fall of more than 100 feet. "I remember I looked at the spot where I was supposed to jump off the roof, and I saw this big steel beam, where I was to land. And it had this thin, little pad on it. I glanced at it and then stunt man Casey O'Neil said, ‘It's padded. But that's going to hurt.'”

Cruise took the leap anyway, nailing it. This, says Gregg Smrz, was typical, with Cruise committing 100 percent to each stunt, never using doubles, no matter the stakes. "He is so physically talented but all the things he did on this film gave me grey hair,” Smrz laughs.

Mangold concurs that the skilled derring-do of his two lead actors was absolutely key to the production – if a little disconcerting. "You have to adjust as a director to seeing the stars of your movie seven stories in the air leaping from buildings,” he laughs. "The saddest thing to me is that, in this age of CGI, many people won't believe that Tom and Cameron really did these things!”

Back in Boston, Diaz showed her own fearless streak as she took the wheel of a 1966 GTO in one of the film's wildest car chases. Says an impressed Smrz: "Cameron was extremely talented in the car. We tested her and she did such an awesome job – flooring it, steering into 180-degree turns -- that she did all the driving in the actual scene. She could do her own car chase movie.”

That first Boston car chase set the tone with its maze-like kinetic complexity accompanied by rat-a-tat repartee. "You have cars in tunnels, people falling off of cars, people climbing onto cars, car rolls, car spins, cars riding other cars, collisions with semis, jumping from car-to-car – it's insane,” summarizes Mangold. "And the fun part is that in the middle of it all, there's this constant banter going on between Roy and June just like a married couple who can't decide whether to turn right or left!”

In Spain, the film captures perhaps the ultimate contest of evasion: the infamous event known as el encierro, AKA the running of the bulls. A tradition begun in the 14th Century, bull runs today take place in numerous Spanish cities – including Cadiz, where the scene was shot -- as crowds try to outpace a pack of stampeding animals without getting trampled or gored. That might seem perilous enough, but the film scene

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