Behind the thrilling choreography of the stage combat and mystique of the Jedi approach to battle is the wisdom and expertise of a film industry veteran: stunt coordinator, Nick Gillard. The Star Wars galaxy is a dangerous place. Blaster bolts sear the air, and lightsabers clash in electrified battle. Gillard guided actors and stunt players through this kind of harrowing action and brought a special dimension to the stunts of Star Wars: Episode I, II & III.
Nick Gillard was charged with the responsibility of training Jedi Knights – Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen as well as Ray Park & Christopher Lee. To do this, Gillard had to create a fictional martial art that has an authentic, time-honored feel. Rather than assembling a pastiche of various martial arts, Gillard worked to create a distinctive technique that is based on the fact that the Jedi have specifically “chosen the sword as their weapon.” To be able to use such a “short range weapon,” he says, against “people who are firing laser guns at you,” one must use a fighting style based on speed and economy of movement. Every sword stroke must count. Gillard was extremely pleased with the progress of his Jedi. “They’re outstanding,” Gillard exclaims. “We really landed on our feet with Liam and Ewan. They are now as fast as any of the stunt guys they’re fighting at the moment.”
This attitude has helped Gillard reach the top of his profession. Although he is reluctant to brag about his exploits, the fact is that he holds several unofficial world’s records – including a 200-foot power boat jump over two bridges in the film Amsterdammed, and a full fire burn without air for over two minutes on Alien 3. (“Full fire burn” means that you don’t breathe while you are on fire, lest the oxygen in your lungs ignite.) Gillard has been on fire at least 100 times. Whether you realize it or not, you have seen Gillard on countless “World’s Greatest Stunts” videos and in such blockbusters as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (in the boat and tank battle sequences) and Interview with the Vampire (where he doubled for Tom Cruise). He was also the Alien Queen in Aliens, and his sword work has been displayed in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Three Musketeers, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Henry V.