Stunt driving star Chris Burns talks speed and smashes with Marion McMullen as Fast & Furious Live prepares to bring the full-throttle action of the blockbuster Hollywood movies to arenas across the country including Arena Birmingham.
How would you describe Fast & Furious Live?
It is going to be huge and is the most enormous touring show ever created. If you are a fan of the films it is a must-see and, if you are not a fan, you will simply be blown away by the cars and special effects. It's going to be edge of your seat 'wow'.
Has there been any reaction from the stars of the movies?
Vin Diesel has done a few pieces of film for the tour and is super excited. We are part of the Fast & Furious family now and it’s going to be dramatic.
There is cutting edge 3D projection mapping, a great story which takes audiences all around the world ... and stunts people will never have seen before. In the movies, scenes can be edited and cut, but we will be performing everything live.
You lead the 11-strong team of extreme stunt drivers. What has the training involved?
We trained at our secret location Fast Camp in the Midlands, an army barracks, and we became good friends with the people here.
We're now at the full-blown rehearsals stage. I don't think there is a panel on any of the test cars that is not dented to be perfectly honest, but that's a good thing.
To do something as groundbreaking as what we are doing, we need to know how far we can push the cars.
The stunts are pretty spectacular. You'll hear the gasp of thousands of people at some of the things we do. We had 2,000 apply for the driving roles and we picked the best.
Are you a fan of the movie series from Universal?
(Laughs) I'm the office nerd. If anyone on the team wants to know anything about Fast & Furious then I’m the guy.
I'm the quality control. A lot of fans of the franchise will be coming to see the show and I want to make sure that we deliver.
We were looking for the right paint for the Lamborghini Murcielago (as seen in The Fate Of The Furious).
It wasn't standard and we had to put together a mix of two to get it right. The paint alone cost £4,000 and most people notice it, but I know the details are right.
What else does your job involve?
I've been working on this for five years and, since the arena tour was signed off last year, I've been getting all the cars and machinery in place and getting it built.
There has been a lot of travelling back and forth between the UK and LA this past year meeting with Dennis McCarthy, the man behind the cars in the movies. I've become a regular there.
How did you become involved in stunt driving?
I have been a professional for the last 20 years. I was a member of the Top Gear LIve stunt driving team and toured for seven years with them performing in more than 500 shows.
Fast & Furious Live is a life's ambition. You should always chase your dreams and never give up.
I have always followed this dream and the world tour got a yes last year. I feel really lucky.
We will be performing in 23 cities across 14 counties for the start of the tour and we will be doing 400 shows in the first year.
When did driving become a passion?
(Laughs) My parents tell me my first word was 'car' and that has been the theme of my life ever since. I was about 13 when I started to learn to drive and I've always been crazy about cars.
What was your first car?
A 1986 Toyota Corolla GT Coupe. I was 16-and-a-half and working part-time in a DIY shop and I remember there was lots of snow on the ground.
This guy came to pick up his girlfriend and he just slid across the car park in this vehicle and I thought 'I have got to have that car'.
I pleaded with him not to sell the car until I raised the money and we are still good friends to this day.
Are you looking forward to finally hitting the road with the arena tour?
I am. We've got all these iconic cars and I can't wait. I remember four years I was asked if it was realistically possible to recreate these drives for this show and I said '100 per cent yes'.
Now it's happening and people will never have seen anything like it before.
The world premiere of the Fast & Furious Live global tour takes place on January 19 at the O2 in London and launches the European dates.
The tour will call at Arena Birmingham from April 20-22. Go to fastandfuriouslive.com for more details.