As the 1969 classic ‘The Italian Job’ turns 50 years old, TG.com caught up with David Salamone, the man who piloted the red Mini in that iconic chase scene…
TG: David, how did you first find out that you were going to be in The Italian Job?
DS: I had done a movie called Robbery where I’d supplied all the cars. It was a sort of quasi-documentary so I had to find the exact vehicles that were used in the Great Train Robbery. I went to police stations and got photos, all that nonsense. But the producer of that was Michael Deeley, who then happened to produce The Italian Job.
Originally I was taken on as a stunt coordinator in addition to supplying all the cars, but while I was running around finding them, they found Rémy Julienne. He was the king of all the stunt men and frankly was in a different league to us. So, I kind of got semi-sidelined after all of that. I was a little disappointed, but they gave me the part in the movie instead because I was already under contract.
I’ll probably get told off for saying this, but the general kind of English stunt man, I could say to him ‘get in that car and drive through that wall’ and he’d just say ‘how much?’ Rémy was different. He was a scientist. Everything was calculated to one mile an hour. It was practiced and worked at first, then he’d modify things if it wasn’t quite right.
I remember I’d obviously done a load of handbrake turns in my time, but suddenly Rémy was telling me to get it in reverse halfway through and to roar out of them. It was all learning on the job, it was fantastic.