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Russell Crowe’s helicopter stunt in Proof of Life was ‘tantamount to suicide’

Russell Crowe is still kicking himself for agreeing to perform a dangerous helicopter stunt for his movie Proof Of Life, insisting it was “tantamount to committing suicide”.
The Gladiator star is no stranger to tackling daring stunts on film sets, but he claims the action sequence he pulled off for the 2000 film, in which he played a hostage negotiator, was his most risky by far – and looking back, he’s surprised he wasn’t killed in the process.
“Probably one of the stupidest things I ever did was in a movie called Proof of Life,” Crowe recalled during an interview on Australia’s Nova 100 radio show Chrissie, Sam and Browny. “Right at the beginning of the film, there’s a sequence where I run up to this helicopter and I jump onto it and it takes off. I actually did that. I ran up and I grabbed a strap and then it takes off.”
However, Crowe reveals that unlike most stunts on set, he performed the big jump without any kind of safety net.
“I don’t have any safety wire,” he said. “I’m not attached to the aircraft except for the fact I grabbed onto it.”
He claims director Taylor Hackford made Crowe pull off the sequence in take after take, and even called on the pilot to “go harder” to raise the stakes.
“So I’m hanging onto this thing and we’re up at 100 foot,” Russell shared. “We bank over this battlefield, this explosion goes off, I get like 20 cuts across my face and the only thing that’s stopping me from dying at this point is having a grip on the strap.”
The actor survived the whole shoot, but he would never agree to put his life on the line like that ever again.
Remembering the shoot now, Crowe added, “It’s tantamount to committing suicide. It wouldn’t take very much to go wrong for that to end in a disaster.”
While Crowe had a lucky escape, actor William Gaffney, Jr., the stand-in for co-star David Morse, who portrayed the kidnap victim, didn’t survive after he was thrown from a truck in a stunt gone wrong. Cast and crew had been shooting in Ecuador when the incident took place.

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