Rémy Julienne, the precision stunt driver behind The Italian Job chase sequence and six James Bond films, sadly passed away on January 21 at the age of 90. The Frenchman was hospitalised two weeks ago in the town of Montargis after testing positive for Coronavirus, and was taken into intensive care.
Born on 17 April 1930 in the nearby French village of Cepoy, Julienne became one of the most prolific stunt drivers in Europe and, over a 40-year career, participated in more than 1400 productions. His spectacular stunts were calculated to eliminate as much risk as possible, with French director, Claude Lelouch, describing him as “a reasonable madman.”
Julienne became the French motocross champion in 1957, before beginning his movie career doubling for Jean Marais in the 1964 film Fantômas. He worked alone at first but soon built up a core team of drivers and mechanics, forming L’Equipe Rémy Julienne. In the 1980s, he was joined by his two sons, Dominique and Michel, who continue in the family business.
The Italian Job was Julienne’s first English-language production and really kickstarted his career, with the sequence through Turin in red, white, and blue Mini Coopers one of the most famous car chases of all time. He was also responsible for the yellow Citroën 2CV chase in the bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), along with the Tuk Tuk scenes in Octopussy (1983) and the memorable sequence in A View to a Kill (1985), when Bond carjacks a Renault 11 taxi before racing through the streets of Paris, sans roof and then the entire back end.
Julienne’s team were also involved in The Living Daylights (1987 and a Licence to Kill (1989). His Bond swansong was 1995’s GoldenEye (1995), when he pitted Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 against a Ferrari 355 in the mountains above Monaco. In later life he enjoyed various roles, including designing a stunt driving attraction at Disneyland Paris, and remained active in retirement by appearing regularly at motoring events.
Matthew Field, who met Julienne on numerous occasions and wrote the award-winning book ‘The Self Preservation Society: 50 Years of The Italian Job’, paid tribute to the Frenchman’s career. “Rémy was undoubtedly the star of The Italian Job. What he did with the Minis in that film far exceeded the expectations of the filmmakers. He brought precision and science to stunt driving which had never been seen in British film before that. It is ironic really, as the movie is celebrated for its British patriotism and yet the true hero was a Frenchman.”