Lusted over Chris Hemsworth’s bulging biceps during a fist fight? Swooned at the curve of his back during an on-screen tussle?
Chances are, that perfectly formed body doesn’t actually belong to the Hollywood hunk – but Bobby Holland Hanton.
While daredevil stars like Tom Cruise do the majority of their own stunts, not all Hollywood actors are as brave.
Enter the body stunt double – thrill-seeking folk who step into the ring to perform risky acts in the place of their famous counterparts. From fight scenes and nerve-inducing car chases, to diving off bridges and jumping off buildings – there’s virtually nothing these adrenaline junkies won’t do for visual impact.
But while the relationships between most A-listers and their lookalikes are a distant one, in the case of Bobby and Chris, it’s the reverse.
Not only has British-born Bobby been under contract to stand in for the Aussie actor in all of his movies for the last six years, he’s also one of his best friends.
‘He’s great, he’s the best!’ enthuses Bobby during a chat with New Idea. ‘Not only is he a very good friend, but he’s also someone I respect and really look up to.’
First meeting Chris on the set of Snow White And The Huntsman, after wrapping work on The Dark Knight Rises Bobby’s impressions of the actor were immediately positive.
‘I thought he was a really nice guy,’ he recalls. ‘He often plays these big, gruff, strong characters, yet he’s a gentle giant, which goes to show just how much of a good actor he is.’
Recruited to stand in as his stunt double on the Thor sequel, the relationship between the pair quickly blossomed.
‘I never thought he’d be as cool as he is,’ says Bobby, smiling. ‘He exceeded my expectations – to work with someone of that kind of stature and for them to be so nice and normal, he’s a real breath of fresh air.
‘We became very close, very quickly. We’d prank one another on set and laugh at the same things. We’re the same age, have the same sense of humour and he has a very strong connection to his family, as do I too with mine, so we have a lot in common.
‘When you click with someone it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known them. He’s honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He’s a great dad, a great husband and a great friend. I class him as one of my family now.’
Indeed, the extent of his devotion to the former Home And Away actor knows no bounds. Not only does the athlete sing his praises to anyone who will listen, Bobby’s also got Chris’ face permanently inked on his leg.
‘Yes, I do,’ the UK-based thrill-seeker sheepishly admits.
‘So that really is true friendship dedication! It was on a night out and was the result of a few too many beers, mixed with a bet that I didn’t win.’
Clearly the duo indulge in regular hijinks, but what is a typical Bobby and Chris get-together?
‘We’ll train a lot,’ reveals Bobby. ‘We’re both big fans of UFC and mixed martial arts, so we’ll watch that. If it’s just a chill-out day on a Sunday, for example, we’ll have a nice cold beer together and go for a swim... it’s all pretty normal.
‘I was based on the Gold Coast in 2016 for six months filming Thor: Ragnarok, so we were hanging out a lot in his home in Byron Bay then, but it depends where he is – if he’s in London, for example, which is where I’m based, then we’ll hang out there.’
This bromance is obviously reciprocated. Chris has contracted his bestie to do stunts on all his projects – ‘we’ve done about 10 films together now’ – and when they finish a movie, the Hollywood heavyweight has a special way of showing gratitude.
‘He knows that I love watches, so he’ll always buy me one afterwards,’ tells Bobby.
But while the rewards as one of Chris’ right-hand men are great, achieving the Thor physique takes effort – lots of effort.
‘It’s a job in itself,’ says Bobby.
‘Chris is huge – he’s a man mountain! So when you’re his stunt double, it’s a very difficult job to get even close to the size he is, even after training twice daily and eating eight meals every day. But it’s a challenge I take on, and by the end of every movie, I’m very proud that I’ve done it.’
His dedication to the industry has led the stunt double to accrue a resume that spans gigs on some of the highest-earning blockbusters of recent years.
Of course, there’s a downside to the life of a stunt body double: injury. After all, smashing through glass and jumping out of moving cars doesn’t come without risk. It’s because of this that Bobby has found himself in his current role – ambassador for bandage company, Band-Aid.
‘I’ve hurt my back a few times, snapped my groin, popped a rib out, hurt my neck... but it’s just the nature of what I do. So, for someone in my line of work, there are so many uses and benefits their products have.’
While there’s the potential for injury, the happy-go-lucky Brit wouldn’t have it any other way.
‘Sometimes I take a step back and say to myself: “Wow! What I’ve done has been amazing.”
‘I come from a very humble background. While I work with these guys day in and day out, it’s just my job. All my best friends from back home are still my best friends now, I’m very close to my family and I just try to keep my feet on the ground.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea - out now!