Being Andy Samberg's Hot Rod Stuntman Was A Dangerous Job

With an outfit like The Lonely Island — that's director Akiva Schaffer and stars Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone, all childhood friends — behind "Hot Rod," the early aughts comedy is naturally filled with ad-libs and impromptu shifts in the storytelling. But one thing that never left the agenda was the need for professional stunt crew in a tale of a raggedy amateur stuntman.

Samberg stars in the film as Rod Kimble (a role originally written for Will Ferrell), who doesn't let his obscenely numerous stunt failures deter him from the most ambitious one of his career: jumping over 15 school buses on his puttering Tomos moped. The reason? Funding a heart transplant for his callous stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) so Rod can fight him and finally earn the old man's respect. Throw in a few fellow "Saturday Night Live" alums and a whole lot of Europe songs and out comes a cult hit that has taken on a life of its own since its unjustly poor box office reception in 2007

The laughs come fast and furious, largely due to the comedy one-two punch of surreal humor and ragdoll physics. When he's not racking up humiliating losses in sparring matches with Frank, Rod subjects his body to a festival of anguish in hyped stunts to raise the money needed for surgery. "Operation Fiscal Jackhammer" includes setting himself aflame (unclear whether this was intentional) at a children's birthday party, and being hit by a suspended washing machine swung from a crane. While Samberg did as many stunts as he could, such as a pool jump scene, some of the more dangerous feats were achieved by a pro. Speaking to Inverse, The Lonely Island trio revealed that despite the "Looney Tunes" mechanics seen on screen, not a single dummy was harmed, or used, in the "Hot Rod" production.

Danger on the track

If the opening scene is a mission statement for the entire movie, "Hot Rod" calls its shot as confidently as Babe Ruth. The film begins with Kimble ceremoniously preparing for the first of many unsuccessful stunts: a moped jump over a mail truck. His team fails to reinforce the takeoff ramp and so the plywood incline crumples like tissue paper when he attempts to launch off of it. His body follows suit by folding in ways that no human body should upon impact, a stunt that moviegoers surely thought was some sort of movie trickery involving a dummy. The trio sets the record straight with Inverse:

Schaffer: There are no dummies in the whole movie. There are wires sometimes because people are getting cranked and pulled around, but it's all real dudes.

Taccone: So much so that first mail truck jump, he broke his femur on it. Which made him look like a rag doll dummy, but it's a real live human being breaking their leg.

Schaffer: Lorne [Michaels] even visited him in the hospital, so that's nice. And I do remember, right after he did the stunt and we filmed it, he was on the stretcher to be taken to the hospital. They called me over to it, and I'm like, "Is he alright?" And through gritted teeth he was looking at me going, "Is it usable? Can we use it?" And I said, "Yes, yes, of course!" And he was like, "Alllllright!" That was really what he cared about. He didn't want to have done it and not have it be usable.

It's the same reckless spirit that brought the "Jackass" crew success (where the only failure is the one without footage) and contributed to the infinitely quotable and laughable triumph of "Hot Rod."