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Travis Pastrana interview: "I'd jump from space"

By and Emma Dibdin
One of the undisputed greatest X Games athletes of all time, action sports hero Travis Pastrana's death-defying antics can be seen in movie Nitro Circus 3D and the forthcoming live show UK tour.

Digital Spy spoke to the daredevil racer about the film, extreme sports' absence from the Olympics and Felix Baumgartner taking stunts to a whole new height.

How did your film Nitro Circus 3D on the big screen come about?
"We started out just filming guys who came over to my house. You know, going back to square one. The top guys were trying tricks in the foam pit, it was more of a crash film. It got a following and got bigger and bigger. We just started having fun but we had all these ideas we couldn't do on the TV show because of liability and insurance and everyone was like, 'We should do a 3D movie!' and I was so against it. I was like, 'No, it's not the right time'.

"I just thought it was more a gimmick than anything so we worked a little bit with the guys who'd done Jackass 3D and it was really beneficial. When you film action sports and jumping rooftop-to-rooftop 60 storeys high in 3D, you would really feel what we haven't been able to portray to the audience in the past - the height and the vastness of what was going on. It just feels flat on TV. But then we couldn't find insurance, they were like, 'Dude, you're going to die!'"

Travis Pastrana

© Travis Pastrana

Travis Pastrana














Are you keen to do a sequel?
"Yes and no. I think we definitely have a lot of ideas. Unfortunately we got injured through the making of the film. It was very difficult when one guy goes down, he might have three stunts that he was going to do. Jolene had a really bad shoulder injury and Jim broke his neck - sorry, that's not funny.

"There is a lot of stuff we'd like to do, but with the amount of injuries sustained through this movie, although we had a great time we're like, 'Should there be a sequel?'"

What can fans expect to see at the live tour?
"Well it's the best of the best from every action sport, plus some sports that were Nitro-inspired like 'big wheeling' and 'land boogie boarding'. Pretty much anything that flies, you will see fly. Some things won't be landing, some of the things will be a surprise to see land.

"The first half of the show will be the best of the best of the guys doing stuff they think they can do. The second half of the show - and I think this sets us apart from Cirque du Soleil or something like that - is you have these guys who are top of what they do in their sport, but everyone has to try something they've never tried before. I mean these guys are pushing so far. So it's the best of the best pushing themselves and just not knowing if it's going to work or if it's not going to work."

How much does the live audience element change the safety aspect or add restrictions?
"What's been really great, we've had some shows in the past that were outdoor venues and with a little bit of wind we found that it really affected the show, because unfortunately people like to see crashes but they like to see success as well. So in the second half of the show, if everyone crashes the crowd leaves a little bit let down.

"So with these indoor venues that we're going have throughout Europe it's going to be really good as the guys will be able to pull off stuff even they didn't think was possible."

What is the most dangerous stunt you've ever done?
"I think the most dangerous stunt is any stunt you're not prepared for or where you don't understand the risks. So for us, some of the most dangerous things have been the simpler things. At least on a dirt bike I could be going 400ft in distance but I'm very aware of everything I can do to get away from it - I'm very comfortable on that device. The crazier stunts, we're jumping roof-to-roof 60 storeys up and sometimes when you're going down the ramps the wheels just explode. These are things you can't really calculate per se, and that's definitely the most risky. It's when you're working with equipment that's not really made to do what you're doing."

Not to be too morbid but in terms of injuries how bad does it get, how bad has it got for you, what's the worst you've had?
"Any injury that keeps you away from doing what you love doing is a bad injury. The worst was probably when I'd just turned 15 and I shattered my pelvis completely and unfortunately I bled almost three quarters of my blood volume out over a week."

And that didn't put you off?
"No. It put me in a wheelchair for four months. My mum at that point was like, 'Are you sure this is what you want to?' I wouldn't give it up for the world. I think that was the time she was like, 'Oh well, here we go, this is definitely what he wants to do...'"

It's obviously difficult to talk about stunts without thinking about Felix Baumgartner and his recent record-breaking space jump. What was your view of that? It was just an astonishing thing to watch.
"I think it's awesome, it just shows you. I feel honoured to be part of Red Bull and the stunts they put on. Felix's jump was a three-year work in progress. They modified and redesigned the space suit; I mean what company does better than NASA and whatever the space programmes are in making the stuff? They revolutionised that whole realm.

"Felix definitely was as prepared as you could possibly get and he knew the risks and consequences but still, even with that, he tumbled for so long I for sure would have passed out. I don't know how he kept conscious."


The official trailer to Pastrana's stunt movie: Nitro Circus 3D

You've jumped out of a plane without a parachute, right?
"Yeah. It was actually pretty well calculated and it's one of those things that makes people go, 'Oh man'. The worse case scenario if you didn't make it was death but we were really confident in the people we surround ourselves with and it was one of the more fun, less risk things I've done, I think."

If you were given the opportunity to jump from space, would you?
"A hundred percent. Now it would be a lot easier because Felix went through all the work."

This is kind of a hard one but what goes through your mind in a situation like that where if it goes wrong, death is the probable outcome? What's that like psychologically?
"I think that changes depending on what else you have in your life that's going on and how big of a deal it is to you. But I feel like when you make the decision, the conscious decision, a hundred percent to do something fear kind of goes away. It's like 'OK, I'm going to do it anyway so I may as well make the best of it'. I think that makes the difference between the guys who are in action sports and the guys who could have been great but kind of stepped out."

Are there any stunts you wanted to do on film but haven't been able to do yet for whatever reason?
"Oh yes, there's a lot. Actually one that we had really hoped to do for the movie that we didn't get around to doing as I'd hurt my ankle was jumping from a plane without a parachute and landing without a parachute, using a wing suit. But we've got so many ideas.

"A lot of the stuff isn't necessarily great video but it's just really awesome for us and is just fun. So we have to monitor a lot of the stuff and say, 'What's entertaining and what are we going to do just because we're having an awesome time?' That's kind of been the downfall because a lot of the stuff we do is for our own pleasure, but I think that people can see we are really enjoying it, so it's pretty cool."

Would you like to see more extreme sports introduced into the Olympics?
"You know honestly, I think the extreme sports contests we have are our own Olympics. I mean there's nothing better than representing your country and of course I'd love to see it. My wife's hoping they get skateboarding involved. That would be a true honour, being able to represent your country, no matter where you're from.

"So I would love to see more extreme sports come in but at the same time the X Games are our Olympics. I think someone that won the Olympics in snowboarding but didn't win X Games would feel like their career was incomplete. At the same time I think there's conventional sports and athletic sports, so curling for example I don't think is an athletic sport. The Olympics has some randoms. Then you have skillset sports and I think for the most part action sports are very skillset-oriented."

Are you a big fan of action movies and do you have any particular favourites in terms of extreme action on screen?
"I mean I'm a huge movie fan. I definitely love action movies for sure. I feel there hasn't been a lot of really great racing films. I really like watching the stunt work and stuff. Jolene Van Vugt from Nitro Circus got to do a lot of the stunts for Catwoman in the new Batman. So this is stuff that a lot of the Nitro Circus guys are going into.

"Andy Bell is doing a lot of the stunt work motorcycle stuff. It's just been a fun world to kind of get into. Tanner Foust who I race against in rally has been doing Dukes of Hazzard and most of the car stuff for the Bourne movies."

Watch the trailer for Travis Pastrana's Nitro Circus Live tour 2012:

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