We managed to catch up with Lane Leavitt who recently finished working as a stuntman on ‘The Last Stand’ with Arnold Schwarzenegger. For those of you that saw the trailer Lane is one of the police men on the road block defending the town. He rode a motorcycle up a flight of stairs in T2 as the T-1000 and even fought SkyNet as numerous resistance soldiers in the T2 future war scenes. He is no stranger to Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and has appeared in a good number of them! So let’s get on with the questions…
What was it like working on The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
It was Sooooo Great to see Arnold again, he was so fun to work with. And he was simply happy to be back making movies again as far as I could tell. Arnold has grace, style, presence and power in everything he attempts, including acting. He does not take himself or his character too seriously, he simply enjoys the doing as far as I can tell.
Obviously Arnold is older now and even pokes fun at feeling old in the trailer for the movie. Does this limit the stunts he can perform in comparison with say his performances in the 80s?
That’s a difficult question, Arnold has always used good doubles and he treats them well. Arnold has always done a lot of his own action, provided it’s safe and The Last Stand was no different. I was involved in one really great stunt with Arnold, as he leaps onto a bad guy on a roof edge. We had Arnold and a Stuntman on the edge and both Arnold and the Stuntman do a really nice fall together. It was a great stunt, even for a professional stuntman and here was Arnold right in there doing it himself. Why? I think he and everyone around him know that if he can do some of the stunts himself, it makes for a more believable character. I do think he has more drive now, which makes him push himself harder and perhaps want to do some more of the stunts than before.
Has age ever limited the type of stunts you can do now?
Sure but I get hired for my knowledge and overall ability to bring things together, not because I’m young and good looking.
Do you think it might in the future?
I find that I’m more valuable now because I’ve reached a point where my knowledge, experience, organizational skills, people skills, training ability and innovations are becoming more prolific each and everyday. That’s why I believe I’m unique to the industry, because I can conceive things, do things, valuable things that nobody else can and can dream up stuff, sequences, hardware and techniques that nobody else is remotely thinking about. I have a sharp eye for new talent, know how to get the very best performance out of individuals, I can hone and sharpen talent easily and they love the style I do it with. Which is fun for me and rewarding for the people that come and train with me. This builds a stronger overall team and teamwork is what makes great stuntwork.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to reprise his role as “The Terminator” once again… Do you think he is capable of portraying the character to the standard of his 1984 self including being hit by trucks and doing his part in death defying stunts?
Easily and I don’t believe that ANYONE but Arnold should do it. I also wish Cameron would direct! Remember, we used many doubles on T-2, why would it be any different today? Our technology is so far advanced today, it would be easy to do great stunts, and remember Arnold at 65 is more of an Athlete than most Hollywood actors are at 25.
So, in ‘The Last Stand’, will the Sheriff’s battles against the criminal masterminds bring major carnage to a small town?
Hell yes and it will be fun!
Will the whole town even exist after Arnold has cleaned up?
I suppose you need to buy a ticket to answer that? I didn’t read the script, so as far as I know Arnold gets scared, pees his pants and throws in with the bad guys because he’s a girlyman!
Will The Last Stand provide Arnold fans with everything they have been missing out on since 2003?
I really think so! It really feels right, the trailer looks good and I know that the passion is there. Now, could they screw it up? Of course, so lets keep our fingers crossed for luck.
Arnold usually has a personal gym on location, did he have one on The Last Stand?
He usually does but I did not see it this time. But I also wasn’t looking for it.
Are there any nods/homages to any of the Terminator movies stunts in The Last Stand?
I didn’t see any but I was not involved in every sequence. There will be some great stuff though, the one liners you want and need and of course some really BIG STUNTS. The action was shot by one of my Proteges Darren Prescott who started with me in the mid-1990s, Darren directed 2nd unit and I think he did a great job. So right from the beginning I think you will be on the edge of your seat.
Have you managed to get any down-time on the set with Arnold?
Lots, we ate lunch together often and he’s really fun to be with. Before The Last Stand I don’t remember him ever eating with the crew but he did on this movie. That’s why I think he was so happy to be back. I sat with him as much as I could and we talked old times, he gave me a hard time about being bald and I reminded him it was his fault after all, having chopped off the top of my head on Commando in the shed scene. We also talked about the economy and being the governor. He’s a deep guy, and has a lot more going on than just movies, he’s a very perceptive businessman as well. I suppose that’s why I like working with him so much and why I actually respect the guy. Johnny Knoxville the co-star is also an astute man, I’ve worked on several of the JackAss movies and I figured Knoxville was just a bonehead. However I was really surprised after sitting and eating lunch with him several times, just how smart and ahead of the game he really is. I think Knoxville is the ideal co-star for Arnold for this project.
Did he mention doing another Terminator?
Never even crossed my mind!
Do you think Arnold will be able to achieve “The Terminator” muscular build like in Terminator 3 say?
No, but I know that with CGI we can do anything and if we bring back the T-2 leather jacket, they are covered anyway.
Lane Leavitt (right) and Dieter Rotter (Arnold’s Stand In) on the set of The Last Stand
Will you be interested in being part of the future war resistance again in 5th theatrical installment of the Terminator franchise?
That’s a really difficult question to answer, I would only want to be a part of the project if I have something to really contribute. That is way far into my future, so I can’t plan or even imagine working on another Terminator again yet. Now if the phone rang and we began to talk sequences, stunts, teams and organization, then bam, my mind would engage in the process. But until then, I feel that is wasted energy because I already have so much I’m working on right now.
…and how about riding a bike up a flight of stairs again like you did as the T-1000 in T2?
My son can do that! I would build the bike again, as I did for the first one . The actual machine from T-2 that I rode up the steps, is in the American Motorcyclist museum in Westerville Ohio, we have had the bike on loan to them for about 6 years and they say its one of the more popular items in the whole massive motorcycle museum.
What movie/movies will you be working on next?
Last week I did the TV show called Castle and a Vitamin commercial. The next two days we are rigging and performing a 300 foot wire controlled high fall in down town LA for a TV show. If you follow us at Stunt Lab on You Tube and Face Book, you will have a good idea of what I’m up too.
We’re aware of your involvement in the new Fast and Furious movies… have you heard any word on the grapevine of Justin Lin’s ongoing interest in the Terminator franchise?
To be honest, I have not heard a word about Lin and T5 but I like what he did with Fast 5 and I believe it was the best of all of the Fast and Furious movies so far. So that’s a good sign.
Your wife also stunt doubled for Linda Hamilton in T2, how is the mother of stunts doing? (mother of the future pun).
Debbie, who as you know was Sarah Conner the stunt double on T-2 is off on Fast 6 in the Canarie Islands off the coast of Africa right now. She is doubling the 2 female actresses on the show and they are working their butts off. They are putting in 14 hour days, so they are just working and sleeping. We Skype but its a long haul, she will be gone for 6 months, they have been in London, on the eastern seacoast at an old RAF base, Glasgow Scotland and now in the Canarie Islands until November.
Thanks for taking time out to answer our questions Lane. Hopefully you’ll be back for Terminator 5.
Dieter Rotter (pictured above with Lane) is Arnold’s stand in. A stand in is the person who stands in the mark and the lighting is perfected while he stands there. So that the camera can see Arnold when they shoot. Dieter also plays the part one of the bad guys in the movie. He also has the company that shoots the behind the scenes video for the DVD/ Blu-Ray releases.
Dieter is also Arnold’s best friend and they do all the things best friends should do, RELAX, drink beer, hang out together etc.
Billy Lucas is his stunt double and Jeremy Fry was his stunt driving double for The Last Stand.