‘Fast & Furious’ driver brings act to ManilaBy Alvin Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The celebrated stunt driver of the “Fast & Furious” movie series is in town.
Hollywood stunt performer and drifting world champion Rhys Millen, who made the memorable scenes of three of the five “Fast & Furious” series happen, planed in early this week to do a video film together with other Red Bull athletes on Manila’s streets.
Red Bull assembled a team of local and international experts to choreograph and film a promotional video last Monday, securing permission to close down a section of Roxas Boulevard in the wee hours of the morning for the stunt scene that was kept from the public.
“We are here with Red Bull to do a branding media video within several divisions of Red Bull athletes, there’s motorcycle, the Red Bull airforce guys who does base jumps, skydives, etc. and myself doing the drifting piece. It is a compilation of multiple videos and these will be put together soon,” Millen, whose popular Gymkhana video went viral on Youtube last year when he staged a stunt video at Hyundai’s old headquarters in Fountain Valley, California, told the Inquirer.
“Our purpose in Manila would be to film our scene at the Kilometer Zero landsite, which is considered very scary site where the monument of Jose Rizal is situated. We did a lot of interaction with jeepneys, chase scenes, some high-speed slides and performance drift driving along Roxas Boulevard.”
Millen was supposed to be in Manila for the recent Bourne Legacy shoot as well, but had a prior race commitment to do in New Zealand, so he passed the job (as lead stunt driver) to his friend Tanner Foust.
In his first stint for “Fast and Furious,” he was the lead driver in the Tokyo Drift sequel of the highly successful car movie franchise. While many would consider the general driving and car control as dangerous, Millen feels he is just in his element. Always.
Pushing the envelope when it came to performance driving, Millen drove a Nissan 350Z on a spiral ramp going up a parking lot while filming in Tokyo in four passes only, and the whole scene took all of 45 minutes to film. With his success in the Fast and Furious 3 stunt scenes, he was tasked to do the succeeding sequels FF4 and FF5 as well. “After that, we came in with FF4 and FF5 which we were in Puerto Rico for about 5 weeks. Yeah, it was staged to look like Rio de Janeiro but it was really in Puerto Rico. We drove the two black Dodge Chargers with the vault and made it all happen in the movie.”
Millen’s team recently tested the new Hyundai Veloster for the US Rally Cross series that would segue to the X-Games. It is a 2-liter 580-horsepower turbo engine for his racing stints with Ken Block, Tanner Foust, Travis Pistrana and lot of other freestyle guys and other WRC drivers.
Millen runs a tuning shop called RMR [Rhys Millen Racing], with a full-time staff of 15 at the shop, specializing in fabrication and composites. “We have a line of accessories as well that we sell to the general public. It is primarily based on my past and current motorsport programs. These would be available online and we ship worldwide. We ship a lot of products to Germany when the Hyundai Genesis became available last year, and they are running these cars in the 24 hours of Nurburgring race. We supply a lot parts to those teams who race there.”
For his drift car, Millen shifted to Hyundai about four years ago after GM announced it would be closing its doors to motor racing. “We won the world championship in 2008 so after GM, we signed up with Hyundai. They asked us to come up with various motorsport programs and see where we can come in,” he added.
He is now in his seventh year of partnership with Red Bull and intends to keep it. “When you have an established brand like this, everyone would like to for a partnership with them, so I am sure the amount of proposals they get is just ridiculous. But we are in a unique position where drifting was fairly new at that time, we ended up winning the championship that year so it kind of sealed the deal for the partnership. We went on two years later to win the world championship with them, so it has been a great partnership not only in motorsports but also in other activities like this one today.”
When asked what his most difficult Hollywood stunt was, he said it is in the remake of Dukes of Hazard where he performed a stunt called “Dead Man” with the car jumping over 200 feet on a ravine and a cable system was used to launch the car with no one inside.
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