What anecdote shows that cinema was once a daredevil affair?

The most dangerous stunt in Mad Max 2 , although full of sequences each more perilous than the last, is the final clash between the tanker truck driven by “Mad” Max and the vehicle of Lord Humungus.

George Miller made the entire film with the means at hand, relying complacently on the temerity and unconsciousness of his collaborators and fellow Australians, most of whom were new to the world of cinema.

When filming the famous final clash, Miller is faced with a binary problem: the sequence must be spectacular, on the one hand, and he is only allowed one try, on the other hand.

The production does not have the means to shoot the accident twice. There is only one tanker truck. The first take must be the right one.

The task of driving the semi-truck is given to stuntman Dennis Williams.

Finally, “stuntman” is a big word. Dennis Williams is more of a trucker, specializing in driving heavy goods vehicles. He’s 39, likes beer way too much and has never done a stunt in his life.

If he’s on set, it’s because Mel Gibson doesn’t know how to drive a truck with a manual double-clutch transmission. He was therefore hired to double the actor.

But Mel Gibson is not the only one to be dumped in front of a double-clutch gearbox. The professional stuntmen hired for the film are also not very comfortable with this very technical driving.

George Miller therefore suggested that Dennis Williams perform the stunt himself…

The idea amuses the guy. He’s a tough guy and he feels like he can crash the semi-truck smoothly.

However, everyone is aware of the danger such a stunt represents. The truck must first hit head-on a vehicle parked in the middle of the road…

…then roll down an embankment and lay on its side at full speed.

George Miller brought an emergency doctor to the set to provide first aid if anything went wrong. An ambulance and helicopter are also nearby to rush Dennis Williams to the hospital, if necessary.

Part of the film crew decides not to come and watch the sequence being filmed, being too pessimistic about its outcome.

From a bunch of tough guys who have been doing stunts in more than questionable conditions for weeks, that says a lot…

On the big day, Dennis Williams gets behind the wheel of the semi-trailer, puts on his helmet and secures himself securely.

He has an empty stomach. The doctor ordered him not to eat anything for twelve hours.

If things go wrong and emergency surgery is required, there will be fewer complications if the victim’s stomach is empty…

Multiple cameras are positioned to cover the action from all angles.

Dennis Williams then jumps in and…performs his stunt perfectly.

He even came out without the slightest scratch.

In this shot, which appears in the film, we can see Dennis Williams driving the truck with his helmet on.

Dennis Williams is still alive. He is 80 years old.

Only in Australia !

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