Remy and the Red Cooper

Remy Julienne
In 1958 Frenchman Remy Julienne became the French Motorcross Champion. In his homeland his driving skills were recognised as some of the best and his charismatic driving led him to become France's most respected stunt drivers. Eventually he set up his own stunt driving company 'Remy Julienne L'Equipe', a self contained team of highly skilled drivers and mechanics. His break onto the international stage came when he was asked to complete the stunt work on The Italian Job, since then Remy Julienne L'Equipe hasn't looked back. Half a dozen Bond films and other similar action movies have benefited from his stunt work and the impressive portfolio continues to grow. Today he still takes part in stunts, but with his two sons, Michel and Dominic, the Julienne genius has a safe future.

Much of Remy's success is down to the spade-work that he puts in before even getting near a car. Everything has to be precise, every ramp and angle calculated, and his over-riding concern is always safety, which is why the movie world respect him so much. This attention to detail enables his team to complete unbelievable and insane stunts, all in a safe environment.

Putting the most talented stunt driving team and one of the lightest, best handling cars together was always going to result in something spectacular, but what Remy and his team did with the Mini Coopers in The Italian Job was above and beyond what anyone expected.

Remy got on incredibly well with the production team and everyone liked him. Director Peter Collinson and Producer Michael Deeley respected Remy totally and together the three of them devised the Mini Cooper chase scene together with Doug Slocombe, Director of Photography. After an accident early on in the filming, which didn't involve Remy or any of his team, the decision was made that Remy would be in total charge of the stunt driving. Remy would often put forward inspired ideas that the production team initially had thought impossible and eventually Remy Julienne L'Equipe had doubled the amount of stunts that they were initially contracted to do.

Remy and his team proved addictive to watch, even when most of the acting cast weren't needed they would all turn up on location to watch the Coopers do their thing, oh and they got free lunch!

Wedding Guests

The wedding sequence on the steps of the Gran di Dio Church was a tricky one to set up. It appears to be a pretty straight forward bit of stunt driving, but because the Coopers had to negotiate the steps at an angle, a fairly high speed needed be maintained as Remy feared that they would roll over if the speed dropped too low. Because of this speed, the wedding party had to be perfectly placed to avoid any accidents - especially as the Coopers couldn't simply perform an emergency stop. Each time the take was done the Mini's were suffering damage to the sills, so it needed to be in the can within a few takes.

Church steps were...

...tough on the Coopers

Remy L'Equipe defies gravity again

The 60 footer
Deeley, Collinson and Slocombe consulted with Remy to see if there were any stunts that he would like to put forward that weren't already in the schedule. Remy had many suggestions that were taken onboard, but there was one which caused a few shaking heads. Remy had suggested that his team do a large rooftop jump between two buildings. The production team's reaction was a straight forward 'No', but Remy persisted and had great faith that it would work. His confidence paid off and the production team gave in, insisting that test runs were done on flat ground to see if the Coopers could make the distance. With tests successfully complete Deeley and Collinson gave Remy the go ahead.

They knew that even with the unbelievable helpfulness of the Turin Police, even they would not allow a stunt that that had so many 'what if's' to be performed on or over public streets. What the whole crew needed was a private property and Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli
offered his help yet again and let the crew use the Fiat factory and it's grounds.

Producer Michael Deeley was a worried man. Even though the stunt was being performed on private property, in Italian law he was still solely responsible if anything went wrong, so apparently he had a car waiting outside and a plane waiting at the airport. He figured that he could argue his case from the UK if it went pear shaped - which was entirely possible, especially on top of a 50 foot building. Even the 2nd unit filmed the stunt in monochrome for insurance purposes.

Remy takes off at 70mph...

...and clears the 60ft gap

The jump had to be massive, the gap was 60ft, and even though the 'landing' building was 12ft lower that the take off, the possibility of one or all the Coopers hitting the side of the building and plummeting 50ft was one that kept everyone involved on edge. Remy figured that his team had to 'leave' the building at 50mph and suggested that the three Coopers do the jump all together in a triangle formation instead of one by one which was originally planned. This was agreed to, even though it made the stunt more dangerous. The tension before the jump got higher and higher, as everyone was held up by the overcast weather. Production crew members were feeling physically sick with anxiety. One Italian cameraman has a nervous breakdown and ran off, only to be discovered several hour later!!

As it was a weekend a large crowd of over 600 onlookers had gathered, most of them Fiat workers and their families, which added to everyone's nerves. Deeley had made sure that there were no journalists in the Fiat grounds, just in case it all went Pete Tong. There was a great atmosphere within the crowd, especially as the ground level had been littered with parasols, chairs and tables by Disley jones and his crew to give the factory grounds a street cafe feel, even the rooftops were dressed up with washing lines to give a street rooftop appearance.

With everyone ready, the weather clearing and a truck full of polystyrene placed between the two buildings 50ft below, it was all go. Many of the onlookers touched Virgin Mary's and Crosses hanging around their necks then Remy in the red Cooper put his foot down, closely followed by the white and blue Coopers. They left the roof at just under 70mph and on landing one Cooper broke it's suspension and one it's engine - in the film you can see the smoking engine as it hits the landing.

When it was all over, the crew, lead by Peter Collinson ran up the exterior stairs to congratulate Remy and his drivers with every pocket crammed with a bottle of bubbly! The stunt was an amazing success, but the enormity of the jump isn't fully justified in the film as the action was caught by a single camera at car level and at a shallow angle. The production crew also knew this, but they weren't willing to do it all again - I'm not surprised!


Rare photo shows distance

...hard landing

Cooper in a barrel roll
The 'in the sewer' scene was filmed near Coventry in Stoke Aldermoor, where several miles of the Birmingham-Coventry sewer was being constructed. The camera car was a Mini Moke that preceded the Coopers and was driven by one of Remy's team. Remy was excited about the scene as he wanted to complete a 360 barrel roll, essentially getting the Cooper upside down on the ceiling of the sewer. Remy tried three times, but the slippery algae caused problems and the Mini ended up on it's roof three times. The car was so badly damaged that a forth attempt was ruled out. John Aldred, the sound mixer claims that Remy did complete a barrel roll on one rehearsal, but the cameras weren't rolling and it was the only stunt in the finished film to defeat Remy.

360 Barrel role sadly not filmed... the Coventry-Birmingham sewer

Get the wheels in line!

Get the wheels in line, get the wheels in line with it
The 60ft rooftop jump was impressive, but by no means was it the most dangerous, that honour fell to the sequences of getting the Coopers into the back of the coach. Luckily the crew had miles of yet to be opened motorway just outside Turin to play with, although his didn't relax the production crew one bit. They were really worried about this stunt, expressing that the Mini's tyres could blow inside the coach. Remy and his crew were pretty calm about it as usual and wanted to carry out the sequence at 75mph with the bus sitting at 50mph. The production's engineers still weren't happy and it all got a little heated until Remy said that he would pull out and go home. Again the production asked Remy to do some tests which were performed perfectly and the stunt was given the green light. Funnily enough, no-one wanted to be the guy hanging out the back of the coach waving the Coopers in, so Peter Collinson agreed to do it, and it's his waving hand you can see in the final cut. With the area behind the bus drivers seat reinforced, it was all go. Remy and his crew did superbly, they even went in red, white and blue. The bus driver was also happy, even though he had been moved forward a few inches!!!

Now they had to get the Mini's out!! this was done with the aid of a huge pressure cannon. What they threw out were regular Mini's dressed up like Coopers, but even they only a few thousand miles on the clock. The blue Mini, which was thrown out first has a camera in it looking out of it's rear window, this shot is in the final cut and if you look carefully you can see that the paint around the inside of the window is red, also some of the glass has been removed. After the sequence was successfully in the can, the crew had to retrieve the smashed up Mini's that littered the St. Bernard Valley!! - There's probably still bits of them lying around somewhere!

Trailing the coach... lines up

...two to go

All in... out...


...and blue

Balancing trick...

Phillip Wrestler and 2nd unit crew were handed the worrying task of filming the 40ft long Harrington Legionnaire skidding out of control and left resting above a 2000ft drop. After studying maps a location was decided on and the scene had the go ahead. Unfortunately it took over two weeks to get the footage due to bad weather, and on one day filming was halted due to Italians wanting to pass by the balancing coach to get to a local beauty spot! Special effects crew member Ken Morris placed a greased metal plate on the road to help Fred Toms, the driver, get the back end of the coach out and do a proper slide. Unfortunately the greased plates didn't really work, so some clever editing was needed to get the same effect. The scene required the coach to skid and demolish the roadside wall, leaving the coach hanging 2000ft above a lake in the valley below. Luckily for Morris, the Legionnaire was front heavy, as it had two axles at the front which helped with the entire stunt. The coach was secured by lengths of cable to stop it disappearing down the mountain. It was still an important prop as final filming of the lads in the back still had to be done back in the UK. Ariel filming for the end credits required a helicopter and on the rehearsal the downdraft from the chopper started to push the Legionnaire's back-end downwards - this was not good as any addition strain on the cabling wasn't welcome. Morris and the first assistant had to leg it to the front of the Legionnaire , grab the bumper and pull the front end down!!!

Norman Warwick (2nd Unit Director of

18ft of the coach in thin air

Legionnaire had to demolish a small wall

With all the action successfully in the can, the crew headed back to the UK for the final filming in the back of the Legionnaire. Apparently the bottled beer they were drinking in that final scene was real, and over the shoot the lads got pretty merry - a fitting ending to the filming of a great film!

Back to Top

© Copyright 2005 The Italian