Rocky Taylor: World’s oldest stuntman says “I’ve just turned 79, but I feel 29.”

After 63 years jumping off buildings, fistfighting A-listers and crashing cars in the name of entertainment, Britain’s oldest stuntman, 79-year-old Rocky Taylor, has no intention of calling time on his blockbusting career.

Rocky Taylor the world's oldest stuntman

Rocky Taylor the world's oldest stuntman

Rocky Taylor’s big break in the movies came as a 16-year-old judo black belt in 1961 when he taught Cliff Richard how to fight in The Young Ones. Since then, he’s risked life and limb as a stunt performer in dozens of big screen blockbusters, including Titanic, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mission Impossible and ten Bond films. Now a stunt coordinator too, he’s doubled for Sean Connery and Roger Moore and appears in the latest Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise.

I’ve just turned 79, but I still feel 29.

I’m an active man. I play golf, I’ve only just stopped playing football, and I’ve been a stuntman for 63 years now, so I need to look good. I try to keep myself slim, I eat the right food, and I’m off the booze.

It all started for me back in 1961 when I got asked to teach Cliff Richard how to do a fight scene. 

I was a judo black belt, and we spent a couple of days on the mats teaching him how to throw me and other people on the floor and how to throw a punch. After a while, the director said, ‘Rocky, can you play the young man who has the fight with Cliff,’ so I did, and the rest of my career just took off from there. One thing people misunderstand about being a stuntman is that it’s full of danger.

Rocky Taylor with his book Jump Rocky Jump and Jon Auty

Rocky Taylor with his book Jump Rocky Jump and Jon Auty

The job of a stuntman is to make things not dangerous so we can come back and do it again tomorrow.

Every fall, whether it’s from a chair or a hundred-foot building, is dangerous, but you prepare the ground with boxes or airbags so you can get up and walk away. 

The stunt which scared me most was coming down the Cresta Run four times in a car with spikes on the wheels to keep it upright in a film called Monte Carlo or Bust.

That was frightening as the car was going round bends and up in the air and I had no idea where it was going to end up.

Rocky Taylor and Sean Connery

Some of my favourite memories are from the Bond films.

I’ve done about ten altogether with Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig doubling for them in fight scenes and car chases, and I got on with all of them well.

Sean knew my father, who was also a stuntman and actor, but I’d say Daniel Craig is the more realistic Bond.

I love Roger and he liked to do slapstick and have a laugh, but Daniel likes to do it straight down the middle.

Another big star I loved working with was Tom Cruise. I was a train driver with him in the last Mission Impossible movie, and he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.

He came on the set, and I said, ‘Good morning, Mr Cruise,’ and he said, ‘My name is Tom,’ and I said, ‘Sorry Tom. My name is Rocky.’

And he said, ‘Thanks Rocky,’ and he shook my hand.

For a superstar he was a very warm guy.

Rocky Taylor with Roger Moore on the set of Octopussy

I’m still busy today either stunt performing or coordinating stunts, and people say to me, ‘How on earth are you still this active at your age, Rocky,’ and I just keep myself trim, I go walking, but of course, there have been moments where things haven’t gone right.

I’ve had a few lumps and bumps and bruises, a broken arm, and a broken leg.

A horse came right down on top of me once and broke my leg, and I fractured my spine on Death Wish III.

I fell from a building into some boxes but went through the boxes and hit the ground and broke my pelvis.

I was in the hospital for eight weeks, but I never for one moment thought, ‘OK, Rocky, maybe you should jack this in and become an accountant.

I don’t know anything else, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else, and I still feel the same. 

Rocky Taylor with Steven Spielberg

Rocky Taylor with Steven Spielberg

Stunt work has always been my life, and passing on my experience to the next generation is my priority now. I’ve never seen age as a barrier.

I’m a young 79 because my body and my face look young, and people don’t believe I’m 79.

Most people think I’m about sixty, and of course, there’s a physical fitness aspect to it, but mental attitude is also so important.

I’ll be 80 next year, but I think I’ve got at least another five or six years in me, more coordinating than stunt work now.

I can do car turnovers all day long, but stand-up fight scenes and falling down the stairs, I don’t want to do those anymore.

I’m young at heart, and I’m a young 79, but with a different attitude, I’d be an old 79, so I’ve every intention of just carrying on what I’m doing.

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