- Eddie Brock’s epic motorcycle chase in “Venom” was one of the best scenes in the movie.
- Stunt coordinator Jack Gill takes us behind the scenes of this sequence, explaining the ways they made the action look so realistic.
- Jack and co-stunt coordinators Andy Gill and Spiro Razatos were responsible for designing the elaborate car and motorbike chase, which finds Eddie transforming into his super alter-ego, Venom.
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Following is a transcription of the video.
Narrator: 2018’s “Venom” was the first installment in Sony’s expanded “Spider-Man” film universe. It was a hit at theaters, setting a record for the biggest October opening in box-office history.
Eddie Brock: We are Venom.
Narrator: But the movie’s most memorable scene is its action centerpiece: an epic motorcycle chase through the streets of San Francisco. There’s a lot going on in this sequence. It’s only a four-minute segment, but the stunt team spent months on its planning and execution.
Jack: Way far before we started filming anything, we were sitting in a room with a script. And then we say, “Let’s storyboard the whole thing, shot by shot, figure out which shots are first unit with Tom Hardy and which shots are second unit with the action unit.” One of the issues we had in this is we wanted to try and make it look real, and so all the motorcycle jumps and the car jumps are all real except for the CG Venom character.
Narrator: That includes some of the wildest moments in the chase, like when Eddie pulls a nose wheelie straight into an exploding car. For that shot, they had one of Hard y’s three stunt doubles, the famous motorcyclist Joe Dryden, do a nose wheelie straight into real fire. Then there’s the moment when Eddie narrowly escapes a car blockade by pulling an arcing turn on the street – something that motorcycles just don’t do in real life. For that feat, Jack’s team spend two weeks designing a thin plate for the motorcycle to slide on as if it were protected by Venom’s indestructible slime.
The action scene is set in the car-chase capital of the US: San Francisco. Or at least that’s what it looks like. Turns out a lot of the scene was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia. The art department disguised the streets of Atlanta by masking signs and removing store logos. Select parts of the scene did get shot in San Francisco at some of the city’s most recognizable locations. One of these spots was Bullitt Hill. The long, tumultuous street got its nickname from the 1963 thriller “Bullitt,” which filmed its famous chase scene there.
Jack: It’s an iconic location, and then everything else you see in Atlanta we’re going so fast by buildings, you can’t tell.
Narrator: And what about this incredible shot? When Eddie jumps off an especially steep hill and loses control of his motorcycle. They had stunt performer Robbie Madison jump that distance so that Tom Hardy would look like he was flying through the air. In the movie, Eddie is saved by the symbiote, which lashes out its tentacles to reattach with the bike. That was the part they filmed in front of a blue screen with Hardy attached to a harness and gimbal. The true climax of the chase comes when Eddie finds himself trapped in an SUV sandwich with bad guys flanking him on both sides.
Eddie Brock: I am going to die!
Narrator: It certainly looks that way. Until Venom sticks out his tentacles and turns the cars’ steering wheels out, making them spin out sideways at 113km an hour. They filmed two versions of this segment that would later get combined in post-production. First, they shot Tom Hardy on a sound stage. Then, they orchestrated a real double crash with the stunt team in San Francisco. Jack drove a car right into the crash with a camera in the back of his vehicle giving the audience a POV look at the action.
At this point, you might be wondering how they keep all the stunt drivers out of harm’s way. Jack let us in on some of their secrets. First, they lined the car windows with sheets of Lexan, a super strong plastic.
Jack: We have Lexan inside of the windshield so that if the windshield does get penetrated by anything, the Lexan stops it from getting in there. Lexan will stop a bullet. We have steel cages, you know, that we put in the cars when we flip them. We also put fuel cells in the car so that the gas tanks can’t blow up or get loose and have raw gasoline going everywhere.
Narrator: Protecting the riders was less straightforward.
Jack: You don’t have any metal around you, there’s really no way to protect a guy when he’s on a motorcycle, except a helmet. So a lot of the really big jumps we told them they had to do face replacement or head replacement and have the rider jump with a helmet.
Narrator: Other than the jumps and wheelie stunts, most of the speed riding was performed by Hardy’s third stunt double, motocross racer Jimmy Roberts. He didn’t wear a helmet. A risky choice, considering they shot several of the San Francisco scenes on a dark and rainy night.
The weather might complement the slick, dark imagery of the movie, but it also made the roads pretty slippery for the motorcyclists. Luckily, Jack’s team anticipated this complication and made sure the bikers were prepared by wetting the streets down in rehearsal.
So how many cars were destroyed in the making of this scene?
Jack: Oh, God, it has to be up in the 30s or 40s. If you factor in how many we tested and destroyed before we even filmed it, that gets even higher. So it’s just hard to tell.
Eddie Brock: Whoa! That was pretty cool actually. I’m not gonna lie…
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in February 2019.