Annalese is literally one of the coolest girls on the block, she is driven by horse power, as a professional stunt rider on horse back and driver behind the wheel. She has appeared in numerous live stunt shows, scared the pants off of the Arsenal football team as she parallel parked them in their own net, and she has appeared in movies including the Fast and the Furious and Edge Of Tomorrow. There is nothing Annalese cannot do behind the wheel, I have witnessed first-hand as she takes a four wheel car up onto two wheels, perform j-turns, and hit high speeds that most of us could only dream (or perhaps have nightmares!!) about.
So what better woman to give the rest of us tips on ultimate car handling, but first i wanted to get to know Annalese a little better.
With a name like Ferrari you were destined to be involved in cars in some way or another! When did you first find your passion for cars?
I had always been interested in cars as a child and loved watching Michael Schumacher on the TV! I think I have always had a need for speed and when I was old enough, I asked my mum to take me karting, I absolutely loved it so it all stemmed from there. Once you’ve started in motorsport, you can become addicted very quickly. My name obviously helps a little too…!
And how did that lead you on to stunt driving?
I had started doing live shows from being involved in racing and then by chance, I met a film stunt coordinator who said he needed a female driver for a film. At first I thought he was joking until he called me and asked me to go to Warner Brother Studios for a screen test! So it all came from racing cars, it really gives you a good grounding in car control and car confidence which you definitely need for performing stunts.
How do you go about learning such skills? I mean its not like popping the handbrake in your local Supermarket and arriving in the space!!
I’m pretty much self taught regarding skills, I have had some training along the way which I have been grateful for but some stuff you just have to get on with it! There is rehearsals for live shows and filming so there is some practice but it’s having the mindset to be able to do it that is most important. The first film I worked on I was towing a caravan that was remotely controlled by someone else – I’d never towed anything before and then there I was towing a caravan at 70mph being blown up by aliens! Most of the stunts require a sensible head as you have to be very aware of crew, cast, cameras etc that are generally quite close to you and accuracy is very crucial! There a number of stunt schools out there where you can have a go at the movie tricks but to do them at a filming level takes years of practice and experience.
How much of a part does fitness play in being a stunt driver?
Fitness is fairly important for both body and mind. Fatigue is a big problem with driving stunts and can affect concentration and attention which is very important either on a set or in a live show to avoid any unplanned incidents! Sometimes the cars can be quite “heavy” to drive so you do need a base line of physical fitness too to manoeuvre them around. Core strength is actually quite important to be able to feel what the car is doing.
You perform some pretty cool stunts, I have been lucky enough to see you in action – what is the ultimate stunt that you loved doing?
I think every job has it’s exciting parts but one that stands out for me was filming on Edge Of Tomorrow, the car I was driving was blown up whilst I was driving it and the caravan on the back was set on fire, looking back in the mirrors as you are towing a massive fireball is pretty exciting! It took lots of filming for that particular scene, the stress levels were pretty high but the end results were spectacular! There are so many fun things I have done, another one was for Ford, racing around the docks in Barcelona at full speed in reverse next to the big drop into the sea got the blood pumping!
What was it like being on the set of such an amazing and cool film Fast and Furious?
Being on the set of any film sounds more exciting than the reality of it but being able to work with top cast and crew is what makes it amazing. It’s quite surreal when you’re working with a mega famous actor and you have to pinch yourself sometimes to say am I really here?! The talent I have been fortunate to work with has been incredible, directors, cameramen, wardrobe, actors etc and it’s nice to get to know some of these people outside of their media personas. The actual reality of being on set though is usually long hours, mostly spent waiting around, in cold, freezing and wet locations!
I`ve seen you in action with the Arsenal football boys, were they shocked when their ‘girlie’ chauffeur turned out to be a bit of a daredevil?
The Arsenal video was definitely the funniest job I have ever done! They had no idea who I was – in fact, they thought I was from the Arsenal Ladies team until I started driving them round a football course at high speed doing driving stunts! I had one take to get everything right otherwise the prank wouldn’t have worked and luckily it all went to plan; although I did have to hold one of them in car at one point! They were properly shocked, maybe a little scared but saw the funny side at the end of it, I’m also relieved it went well as I’m not sure I would have coped with the wrath of the Arsenal fans if I had wiped out 3 of their top players!
Check out Annalese in action and coming soon … her top tips for Winter driving …