When producer Jerry Bruckheimer or director Michael Bay calls, "Action," they call stunt coordinator supreme Kenny Bates, who has provided everything from car chases to asteroidal mayhem on "Bad Boys," "The Rock," "Con Air" and now "Armageddon." With the new movie, Bates, 40, served as associate producer and second unit director as well. His next stunt: becoming a director.
DIGITAL DOOM: "Eventually you will be able to replace people falling off buildings with computer graphics. But to shoot them as real as we make them--we're a long way off from that. I'm still getting the calls and haven't slowed down. But the stunt community overall is in fear of the future."
FREE FALL: "The very first stunt I remember seeing was Dar Robinson jumping off the Houston Astrodome, 210 feet into an air bag, on TV in the '70s. Little did I know that I was a few years away from working with Dar and actually jumping off the Astrodome myself."
THE ROOKIE: "Ben [Affleck] was kind of naive [for "Armageddon"]. Action stunts were new to him. I don't think he knew what he was in for when he showed up on the set. I don't think he likes the flying harness. But it's an experience that's going to stay with him for a while."
NEXT ACTION HERO: "I wouldn't be surprised to see Ben move into some big action films after this. He likes it now and moves well, is coordinated. I saw that in Nic [Cage] and I see it in Ben. The way he articulates himself, his movements are projected larger than life."
NAME TO NOTE: "["Armageddon" writer] Jonathan Hensleigh is one of the people about to really move up. He was instrumental on 'The Rock' and 'Con Air' and he's going to excel in the next year as a writer-director. His girlfriend is [producer] Gale Anne Hurd and they have 'The Hulk,' though that might be on the back burner."
LEARNING CURVE: "I talked to Jerry Bruckheimer about directing and he told me, 'You know, the directors nowadays are looking at art books and studying.' This was two years ago, so for the last two years I've been running around looking at art books, trying to make a great script and studying the craft."
TOO MUCH?: "I'll direct my own movie within the year. I've read 35 scripts in the last five weeks. Of course, anything I do for my first one will be action-oriented, but many of the scripts I've read have too much action. Can you keep that pace with an audience? They'll be exhausted."