I promised if you read my blog, you’d hear about some ‘inside stuff’ about the movies I was on. Also the stars I appeared with. No great surprises but it’s still fun to remember my times on two of the Harry Potter films. Another very satisfying appearance was acting as Jon Voight’s double, my first doubling job, which took me to Pinewood studios. The guard directed me to R stage which is not on the directory but is alongside the famous 007 stage. I was there to be killed. Stars like Jon Voight don’t want to waste time being shot in the head and a Second Unit Director could handle my death. I was to match Polaroids of Voight’s death scene.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider would become the biggest grossing action film with a woman in the lead role. The Executive producer Stuart Baird would do uncredited re-editing work on it as well as Mission: Impossible II so that he could direct Star Trek: Nemesis. Daniel Craig was the film’s baddie and used a Walther P99 pistol which he’d later use as James Bond. One thing Angelina Jolie couldn’t match up to the video game’s Lara Croft, was bra size: 36DD. They settled for padding Angelina’s natural 36C, to a 36D considering that it might be too unrealistic.
My hair was blonded from white to match Jon Voight’s. And the hairdresser apologized for adding blue to my hair. He shortened my sideburns and added a moustache which came furled like a rope. Rael who was to be my killer, doubling for Iain Glen, is an SA (Supporting Actor) who went to Czechoslovakia as a croupier for 2½ years and had been back 2 years. I wert onto set dressed to match Voight’s dress, in white T shirt, white ribbed jumper, stone slacks, brown boots size 11 for my size 9 feet and heavy socks. There was so much sock it was difficult to tie up my boots. Over the top was a brown leather jacket which I learned was worn by Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies.
We were led to a three-foot high wooden platform on which was a 2 feet deep mattress, fronting a vast blue screen as they set up camera positions. Our actions would later be superimposed over a location shot. The second unit director would film us from a twenty-foot crane.
Chris Rock who was in charge, clicked the trigger to show that the gun had blanks - mercifully! It nevertheless was unnerving to see bullets in the chamber. Rael, a pace away, holding the gun offered me it to feel the weight. He took it back and examined it. ‘Is that how they spell Smith and Wesson?’ he asked. ‘I thought it was ‘Western’. I said ‘you’ve seen too many cowboy films.’ Then back to the make-up room, waiting for lighting.
We returned. I had time to look around and see the temple layout in miniature, which at any other time I might have considered ‘cool’. But it was back to the serious business. Rael was instructed to fire just above my eyes. The skin crawled on my forehead. The director called, ‘Just jerk your head back and drop like a sack of potatoes, Peter.’ Behind the platform were inflatable mattresses. I made sure my heels were nudging them. ‘Three, two, one, bang!’ Rael shot me. I fell. We did it once more for luck and the director called it a wrap. Two hours work for £110 ($165). It isn’t every day you get shot between the eyes and live to tell the tale.
But my proudest moment was explaining it to my then nine year old grandson, Christopher. His response to knowing I was Lara Croft’s father was ‘Cor cool, Grand-dad!’ as he gave me a two-handed thumbs up sign. It was worth every moment of staring into that gun barrel.
The original close up
Me doubling for Voight
How it appeared in long shot.