The opening scene of Spectre, where Daniel Craig (James Bond) can be seen fighting in a helicopter (and flying it), is one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time. With fans still marveling at the scene years later, many have wondered if Daniel Craig can fly a helicopter in real life.
No, Daniel Craig cannot fly a helicopter. There is no footage or interview where he admits to flying a helicopter himself. Even in the film, the vast majority of the helicopter scene was shot with a stunt double.
Let’s take a look at how we know Daniel does not fly a helicopter, and how his iconic scene was shot.
Daniel Craig is not a Trained Pilot
While Daniel Craig can be seen flying a helicopter in his iconic Spectre scene, that footage has actually been edited. In the vast majority of the helicopter scenes, his stunt double was used instead.
This is not a surprise at all, considering the dangerous nature of the scene. The vast majority of films utilize stunt doubles. This is because while actors are trained professionals in the art of acting, they do not train to handle dangerous stunts.
Stunt doubles, on the other hand, have years of training under their belt to handle potentially life-threatening situations (and ‘petrol in their veins’). While this seems unfair, it is important to remember that the entire production may need to be halted if the actor gets hurt during the shot. A stunt double is replaceable at least.
Another example of Daniel not flying can be seen in the hilarious reprise of his James Bond role at the 2012 London Olympics. As he escorts the queen from Buckingham Palace to the Olympic stadium, you can see him sitting in the back. If he knew how to fly, this would have been a great way to introduce it to the world.
Daniel Craig’s Stunt Double
Actors in action movies often have various stunt doubles, who usually remain anonymous. However, Daniel’s most well-known stunt double actually has a modest following of his own.
Jean-Charles has managed to amass his following not only due to his bravery and appearances in multiple blockbuster hits, but also due to his ruggedly good looks.
How the Spectre Helicopter Scene was Shot
Now that we know that Daniel doesn’t fly, how was his scene actually shot? We know that his stunt double did the vast majority of the acting. That, along with a decent amount of CGI, culminated in an absolutely breathtaking opening scene.
Over 1500 extras were used due to the nature of the scene. Mexico City, where the scene takes place in Spectre, was not the location of the shooting. At 7500-feet above sea level, the air was too light for what the filmmakers wanted to do. Instead, the filming was done at different locations and the filmmakers blended in Mexico City at the end.
Parts of the scene were shot at different times, some of them in a static helicopter, while others in one that was flying. In the end, they joined the parts together and added the backdrop to complete the scene. Due to the difficulty of the scene, certain parts were shot over 7-months apart.
In case you are wondering, it is actually theoretically possible to fly a helicopter in the same way as it was done in the scene. Mike Buckley, a spokesperson for the British Airline Pilots Association, said that you can fly a helicopter upside down. However, you can only do it for a short amount of time.
So, there you have it. Daniel Craig cannot fly a helicopter. Instead, he makes use of stunt doubles and CGI in the Bond films. Still, the scenes make for an interesting watch. The purpose of the Bond film is obviously not to be realistic, but rather to be entertaining!