Stuntman Cord Newman makes new post-Hollywood life in UAE
Many dads would be over the moon if their kids wanted to follow in their footsteps. Yet Dubai resident Cord Newman prays his two young boys stay well away from his career path.
Cord has been shot twice by rapper 50 Cent, set on fire more than 200 times, narrowly escaped a burning building and has even torn the left ventricle in his heart - all in the name of work. That’s right - Cord is a Hollywood stuntman. He has now relocated to Dubai because his Sharjah-born wife missed home.
Working at the Robbies Motorsports garage in Al Quoz is just one of his many roles - he’s also making efforts to set up a UAE stunt industry with the Abu Dhabi Film Commission.
It’s been a long and hair-raising journey for the daredevil who stumbled into his first movie role in cult comedy hit ‘There’s Something About Mary’, starring Cameron Diaz. Cord laughs that as a young adult in LA he was offered a job modelling clothes despite “not [being] the prettiest guy to look at”. He hated it, but the agent put the Californian up for job as a film extra.
The production assistant came over, recalls Cord. “‘Run to that tree,’ he said. “Alright, so I got up and I was like OK, and he was like, ‘No dude. Haul ass - sprint! Whoever gets there first has a speaking part.’ I got under the tree and [director] Peter Farrelly was laying over the camera and was like ‘sit down, right there’. I sat down and looked over - Ben Stiller was right there. It was wild!”
Cord’s first stunt, though, came on a low-budget Spanish movie - a ‘pipe ramp’, in which a speeding car flips over. He only survived the ill-advised stunt because he knew the right number to call.
“The guy who was supposed to do it bailed. I said: ‘Well, I can do it’ and [the director] said: ‘Have you ever done it before?’ I said: ‘Yep, this will be my third.’ I was totally lying. I didn’t have a helmet and someone had tied a cruddy five-point harness in the car.”
In a cold sweat, Cord called Mike Curtain, a veteran stuntman who responded to his SOS by packing his baby son in the car at 2am and driving down. After overhauling the car and fitting proper safety gear, Mike even volunteered to drive the ‘push car’, which would ram Cord’s into the ramp. The stunt went off without a hitch.
“I would have probably been killed that night,” claims Cord, if Mike had not stepped in.” Still, he was hooked. “At that point my adrenaline was spiked so high I’d have driven off a cliff.” After hundreds of other successful stunts on blockbusters including ‘Transporter 2’, ‘National Treasure’, ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’, it was another low-budget movie that almost saw Cord meet a horrible end. On location in India in 2007 for Tamil science-fiction film ‘Dasavatharam’, Cord agreed to drive a small truck in a stunt that would double as a world-record attempt.
After one aborted practise run because the road was flooded with spectators, and another which saw the cameras miss the action, Cord was surprised to hear the stunt coordinator say they were going for it again.
Silencing a terrible feeling that he would not walk away from it, Cord hit the accelerator and sped towards another truck, which he was supposed to smash through. A mistimed manoeuvre meant the truck was in the wrong place, and Cord hit the ramp at the wrong angle. The second truck sliced through his own “like a tuna can”.
“I felt the impact, the reverberation, the wind of the two trucks colliding, my windshield and his windshield hitting each other. They exploded. I watched a pipe go into my leg and break it. I remember thinking I expected it to hurt more. It didn’t really hurt - probably a tonne of adrenaline, but I did feel weird
in my chest, like when my heart was pumping, it was screwing up. I found out later the impact caused my heart to bounce off my chest and tear the
Despite a long recovery, Cord is nowhere near throwing in the towel. It’s understandable, however, that he doesn’t want his boys signing up. He says: “I’m probably the most overprotective father on the planet. My boys jumping off the couch makes me nervous!”
DON'T MESS WITH WILL SMITH
Stuntman Cord Newman worked on ‘Bad Boys 2’ with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and one of the stars proved to be a bad boy in real life. Cord says: “Will was phenomenal and went out of his way to be nice. He took Martin aside at one point, asked him to come into his trailer and was screaming at him, warning him about the way he was behaving towards everyone… Will’s words were: ‘I make enough money I can box this movie up and never let it see the light of day. You need this movie. I don’t.’ Martin was nice to people from that point on.”
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