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the last duel


Rob Inch on his work on ‘The Last Duel’ and the upcoming ‘Secret Invasion’

“We all have our own imagination.”

The Last Duel is one of the most overlooked movies of 2021. The story is well written and the fight scenes are fantastic. Stunt coordinator Rob Inch has a strong resume that includes movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the recent Star Wars Trilogy, and Wonder Woman 1984. He recently spoke with AIPT about showing up at Matt Damon’s house, how to tell a story in a fight scene, and what he will doing on Marvel’s Secret Invasion.

AIPT:  What made you want to work on The Last Duel 

Inch: Probably all my previous projects that I’d worked with Ridley on. Yeah, he’s a pretty persuasive guy when you work with him once. It’s a no-brainer when the opportunity comes. Matt Damon, I’d worked with him before. Matt called me direct and was kind of like, “Listen, we’re doing this thing. I’d like you to come onboard and be part of it.” I’d done The Martian with him. 

I’ve done The Martian with Ridley as well, but I’ve obviously done a lot of other movies with Ridley. It takes me back to my background. I originated in a theme park world, where I did medieval jousting. I was like, “Yeah, that sounds pretty cool. I definitely feel like I could contribute to that.”  

AIPT: You mentioned The Martian, you’ve done sci-fi, The Last Duel obviously has a medieval setting. What kind of research goes into the films you work on?  

Inch: A huge amount, really. I try to live within the authenticity as much as possible. Of course, we try to dramatize everything to make it feel more cinematic, but The Duel was well-scripted and well-written anyway.  

It was then down to me to expand on those things, but I always do a huge amount of research just to make sure that we’re living in the realms of… We are in the world of make believe, but I want it to feel like we’re still there in touch with what was reality.  

AIPT: How different is it working on something that’s big and bombastic like a Marvel movie, as compared to something a little more grounded like The Last Duel? 

Inch: Yes, it’s drastically different. Actually, I’m back on a Marvel show right now. Yeah, it’s drastically different, but they all come equally with their own challenges. But I think when we shot The Last Duel, we were broken up with the first bout of COVID, so that was interesting.  

I think the difference when you’re working on maybe a more grounded movie like The Last Duel with somebody, let’s say, like Ridley Scott, and somebody that’s a reasonably good actor like Adam Driver and Matt Damon, it’s pretty easy.  

AIPT: The Last Duel actually builds up to that final duel. But then, in the duel itself, it kind of tells a story. How important was it for you to do that?  

Inch: Massively. It feels like really, the duel is a combination of a courtroom drama to me. That’s how it felt to me, realistically. It was a medieval court drama with the finale being in the court, being the duel. I had my meetings like I always do with Ridley. It’s pretty brief and pretty to the point. “Create me something fucking epic,” were the words that came from him. That’s pretty descriptive.  

If you shot a dialog scene, and there were no moments where anybody raised their voice, or laughed, or broke that monotony, then it would all be very samey. I feel like a fight has to sting like that a little bit, and have peaks and troughs. But also, there was part of it that was written, we wanted it to live on the page as well. Without blowing my own trumpet, which I’ve never been known to do, it’s probably one of the main fights, one of my fights I’ve ever done in any movie that I’ve been the proudest of. It was a very small release in cinema. But what it’s done now, in the DVD, in the download world, everybody seems to be getting it, and even my peers are pinging out to me and congratulating me.  

Normally, people never hear anything unless it’s bad news. It’s a change to hear some good news. It’s getting some kind of kudos in the fight world, as well. I think you’ve got to remember; we were designing a fight with two medieval characters dressed up in tin suits. It was pretty much like shooting a fight with two storm troopers, realistically. They move about the same movement, once they get the armor on.  

AIPT: How involved were Adam Driver and Matt Damon in the filming and planning of it? 

Rob Inch on his work on 'The Last Duel' and the upcoming 'Secret Invasion'

Inch: They have input with how they feel like their characters work. And then, what I tried to do ultimately is, once we choreographed it, I had a brief from Ridley, “Go and create me something fucking epic.” 

I basically shoot the fights on video. And then, the first time I showed it was when they just started filming in France. I left England, I went over there to see. Matt had arrived over there, Ridley was there. I show Ridley it, and he said, “It’s fucking brilliant. Show Matt.”  So, I go to Matt’s house, and it’s the first time I’d seen Matt since he said, “Do you want to come onboard?” And he’d only just arrived in France. And to be fair, to drop on anybody’s lap and show them something that you’ve just made, that they have written, and read, and everybody depicts the fights [differently.] 

When you read something off the page, we all see something different, ultimately. We all have our own imagination, and we all see something different. But as soon as I showed Matt, he was like, “That is the fight. We’re not changing anything. That’s the way we’re shooting it. I love it.” I’ve worked with Adam Driver a few times, so I know how intense he can be. And ultimately, he does not like having a stunt double, so it was a case of working with him, and making him have his own stamp in it. And then, the same with Matt, really. There are obviously pieces you design in a fight that suit the guy that’s designing it. So then, I would blend it around them a little bit more, let them. They definitely gave it their own flavor. 

AIPT: We’ve talked about imagination, storytelling, Ridley Scott. Do you have any plans for directing in the future? 

Inch: I did second unit on The Last Duel. I’m now doing second unit on this Marvel show, Secret Invasion. I do, I absolutely do. I would be a fool to have done six movies with Ridley Scott and not learned how to direct from one of the best directors in the world. I feel like I’ve probably learned a little bit over the years, and I’d like to get my chance to show that.  

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