Darren Mitchell [STUNT PLAYER]


MATRIX: Were you in the original MATRIX film?

DARREN: Yes, I was in the Government Lobby scene; that’s when Carrie-Anne [Moss, Trinity] and Keanu [Reeves, Neo] come through the Lobby and all the guards come out and start shooting. Carrie-Anne runs up the wall and as soon as she lands she kicks me in the head, so I take a bit of a dive and hit the ground. It was a short part but I was on it; it was a pretty good experience. I think I was here for about two and a half months; ten days on camera, and on screen for three or four seconds – don’t blink. I’m actually in a photo in THE ART OF THE MATRIX, in a picture from that same scene. I also did a bit of rigging and assisting behind camera and work like that on the original film.

MATRIX: What kind of training do you do as a stunt person?

DARREN: I started off with martial arts and acrobatics; my love of martial arts got me into it. And then I met a guy in Queensland [Australia], an agent and a stunt man who helped me get into the business and taught me some different skills. I got a job at Warner Bros. Movie World on the Gold Coast in a live show, and learnt how to drive, how to ride and how to fall. I left there in about ’97 and started working in films. Most stunt people do a lot of different things: you do different categories from fire, to vehicles, to water, to heights, working with animals.

MATRIX: Was it a natural progression to go from martial arts to Movie World to film?

DARREN: Yes. When I started off I just wanted to do fights — that’s all I wanted to do because Jackie Chan was my hero — but cars and bikes are fun, every facet of it’s fun, and I love movies.

MATRIX: Which scene are you working on at the moment?

DARREN: It’s called the Hel Coat Check scene, which is going to be pretty cool. It’s lots of people running on walls and jumping off walls and flipping, and a lot of guns.

MATRIX: What are you going to be doing specifically?

DARREN: I play a character, Rook, and basically I think Carrie-Anne and Laurence Fishburne [Morpheus] come through a door and start shooting at us. They jump up onto the roof, run along the ceiling, take cover, pull out a couple of guns, and return fire. I leap off the roof from my feet onto my hands onto the ground, do a few back flips then get shot mid back flip and do a ratchet and hook a cable onto my hips here that will change my direction and reef me out sideways. And that’s it; I die, shot.

It’s different to the Government Lobby, now we’re on the roof and we’re on the walls, so it adds another element to the scene. I think it will be exciting.

MATRIX: When you’re doing back flips, is that where your acrobatics training comes in?

DARREN: Yes. Obviously the flips when I’m on the roof are machine controlled. It’s a bit hard to actually flip on the roof by yourself, but all the work on the ground is natural; no cables or anything are involved in that.

MATRIX: Did you help put the rigs together for this set?

DARREN: Yes I helped; basically it’s just pulley systems with ropes. If we want a guy to fly backwards we’ll rig up a pulley in the roof, run a rope through the pulley, connect a wire to the rope and the wire to the back of the guy, then three guys will jump off a ladder or something and away you go. That’s the basics, but it gets a lot more complicated than that. Rigging is not my specialty, but I know enough to look after myself and to know whether it’s safe.

MATRIX: What is one of the craziest stunts you’ve ever had to do?

DARREN: I think high-speed wheel stands would be the most dangerous thing. I’ve got an R6 road bike [Yamaha YZF R6 Road Bike] and do all the high-speed stoppies on it where you do a wheel stand on the front tire and all sorts of high falls. Things like that can be a bit hairy every now and then.

MATRIX: Is there advice you can offer to people who might want to become a stunt person; is it as glamorous as it seems?

DARREN: Not really, no. At the end of the day, it’s a job and the glamour wears off. At first you’re like, wow, I’m working with these people! And then as time goes on you progress and it becomes a job. The advice I’d give would be take your time and if you’re not happy with doing something don’t do it — increase in increments until you’re comfortable with the action that you’re doing. And be safe; look after yourself, because you don’t know how long you’re going to be here.

MATRIX: When you worked on the first MATRIX did you swap notes with the Hong Kong wire team?

DARREN: No, no it’s very secretive I find. They’re athletes and skilled acrobats, and with skilled acrobatics and wirework you can do incredible things that look amazing. I have a lot of respect for those guys, they’re fantastic at what they do.

MATRIX: Is the current team the same team from the first film?

DARREN: I believe so, yes.

MATRIX: How many stunt people and principal actors will be on the Hel Coat Check set?

DARREN: Counting everyone, there’ll be five stunt performers and four principal actors, then there’ll be some filming crew.

MATRIX: What kind of precautions have been taken to keep everyone safe?

DARREN: The ADs [Assistant Directors] look after a lot of it. They make sure the crew stays well back and everyone stays behind camera. Whatever is in front of the camera, that’s what we look after, and we’ll be there looking after ourselves. There shouldn’t be too many people running into shot while there’s action happening.

MATRIX: Thank you, Darren.

Interview by REDPILL
November 2001