Towards the beginning of the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, a stuntman pulls off a breathtaking jump on a motorcycle. A rider, ostensibly the film’s protagonist, races up a steep ramp in Matera, Italy, then soars over a wall.
The 25th Bond film debuts on Friday, Oct. 8, and viewers can expect the typical excitement—car chases, explosions, gun battles, and the like. Popular Science caught up with the film’s special effects and action vehicles supervisor, Chris Corbould, to learn more about how they put some of those sequences together. There are no spoilers ahead; all the stunts referenced are visible in the film’s trailers, one of which is embedded below.
Here’s what we know about that motorcycle jump, and other awe-inspiring moments from this fifth and final installment in the Craig-as-Bond franchise; we also look back at one classic car scene from a 70s-era Bond film.
The motorcycle jump
The jump in Matera, Italy, features a stuntman named Paul Edmondson riding a Triumph Scrambler motorcycle. “That was absolutely done for real,” Corbould says. “Lee Morrison, the stunt coordinator in the film, has a big background in motorcycles.”
“Cary [Joji Fukunaga, the director] wanted one great bike stunt in that beautiful city, and that’s what Lee came up with,” he says. “I’ll never forget, when we did that on the day, there was a massive round of applause.”
“There was no trickery there—he just went up it and jumped it,” he adds.
Viewers interested in the jump can also check out Being James Bond, a documentary about Daniel Craig’s work in the Bond films; at about the 39-minute mark, there’s a brief clip of what appears to be the tail end of that stunt, with the rider wearing a helmet. Both Autoweek and MotorBiscuit have more details, and here’s some behind-the-scenes footage.
In another moment towards the beginning of the film, Bond is behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB5, and there’s a scene in which the car spins in circles, spraying bullets from guns protruding from the front of it. “Daniel [Craig] actually did that donut in the square,” Corbould says, “where it was spinning around and firing the guns at the walls.”
Corbould explains that the film involved a second unit, or the “action unit,” which filmed shots first, and then the actors arrived. “We shot the donut and DB5 shooting up the walls with stunt drivers,” he says, “and then when Daniel came out, he did another shot as well, so they could get shots with his face in it.” Autoweek also has more on those donuts, explaining that the scene involved modifying the stunt vehicle so that its front left wheel wouldn’t spin, thanks to a handbrake.
For the actual vehicles, the filmmakers relied on 10 physical versions of the DB5. Two of the vehicles were “pristine,” Corbould says, which they used for “whenever Daniel was getting in and out, [or] pulling away.” Meanwhile, eight additional vehicles played various roles. “Some were kitted out with gadgets; some were full stunt cars, with full rally roll cages in; they each had a job to do,” Corbould says.
“You have to have multiples of each,” he says, “because if one gadget car clips the curb during the sequence, and bends an axle, you can’t have 600 people waiting around while we mend it, so you just pull that one out, and pull another one in.”
Those eight cars were Aston-Martin-built replicas, and by “gadget car,” Corbould means a vehicle that deploys gadgets, such as those machine guns in the front. Car and Driver notes that the guns “malfunctioned” back in 2019—the barrels didn’t spin as they were supposed to—when they were on set observing.
Bond films, of course, have a long history of action sequences. Back in early 1970s, for example, The Man with the Golden Gun involved a car’s crazy twisting jump over a river, which, as a company called Altair points out, wouldn’t have worked if the vehicle hadn’t been adjusted in a very specific way to include a type of fifth wheel to keep it on track for the stunt.
Finally, in another scene, a seaplane flies away from a fishing boat, towards the camera, as the vessel explodes in the background. “That was a real shot—that was a real trawler, and a real plane,” Corbould says. “It was all perfectly lined up from a helicopter shot.”
“We did it twice,” he adds. “The first time the framing wasn’t quite right, but the second time we absolutely nailed it.”
As for that fishing vessel, it didn’t actually explode. “We made it look like it was blowing up,” Corbould says.