The fall guy for Harrison Ford in those first three “Indiana Jones” movies was such a dead ringer for the star that even Ford's son mistook the stunt man for Dad.
“We were very similar looking, and when I had the costume on it was hard to tell us apart, which of course is very flattering,” British movie stand-in Vic Armstrong said in an email interview with The Oklahoman.
“One day Harrison's little son walked past me and held my hand, and it was not until I spoke that he realized I was not his dad.”
Whenever he was wearing the dusty brown fedora, leather jacket and bullwhip favored by that famous action-archaeologist, even the crew members on the films were constantly mistaking Armstrong for Ford.
Now a director, stunt coordinator and second unit director retired from taking other people's lumps, Armstrong, 65, boasts a resume of stunt work for George Lazenby for the Swiss Alps skiing scenes in “On Her Majesty's Secret Service” (1969), Roger Moore in “Live and Let Die” (1973), Jon Voight in “The Odessa File” (1974), Christopher Reeve in “Superman” (1978) and “Superman II” (1980), Timothy Dalton in “Flash Gordon” (1980), Sean Connery for the high fall on horseback in “Never Say Never Again” (1983) and Ford in “Blade Runner” (1982), “Return of the Jedi” (1983), “Witness” (1985), and the first three Indiana installments.
To name a few.
Armstrong didn't work in 2008's “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” because of a prior commitment to do “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”
But all of his death-defying work as “Indy” can be seen in the new Blu-ray box set, “Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures,” which contains all four of the George Lucas-produced, Steven Spielberg-directed films — “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
And of all the actors for whom Armstrong has taken a fall, Armstrong says Ford is his favorite.
Q: I understand (your strong resemblance to one another) proved useful when Ford injured his back and had to sit out of filming crucial action sequences in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and you filled in for him. Which sequences were these?
A: Poor Harrison has had a (bad) back for many years, and riding the elephants in Sri Lanka really hurt it. He had to go to America for treatment, and we shot a lot of the stone crusher sequence with the fight with my old friend Pat Roach, who eventually gets crushed. And also a lot of the swinging around before Indy drops into the mine car.