The advertisement that features Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a split between two Volvo FM trucks while they reverse down a stretch of road has earned the action star more fans than ever. While the stunt looks impressive, though, there is a secret behind that split. Volvo has confirmed that the actual stunt did indeed take place but that it was done safely by professionals.
The viral Volvo video, which in actuality is a commercial for the car manufacturer’s latest steering technology, was done in one take. The public relations manager for Volvo Trucks explained that they had complete control throughout the entire advert.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was attached to safety lines, aka wires, that were not seen in the commercial. The 53 year-old action star’s feet were also resting on platforms that were built onto the vehicles’ side mirrors.
According to Andreas Nilsson, who directed the commercial, the actor’s feet were not secured to the platforms, nor was he attached directly to the trucks themselves. Nilsson pointed out that Van Damme was rigged with safety wires as they did not want to kill the star inadvertently.
In the three days that the video commercial has been on YouTube, it has garnered almost 14.5 million views and rising. The advertisement was rehearsed for three days before the director called action for real at the closed airstrip Ciudad Real in Spain. The actor and the crew had 15 minutes to film the “money shot” before the sun moved from the planned position.
The final product was the first and only take. According to Nilsson, it went so well that one of the macho stunt coordinators teared up after the shot was finished. The director said that was one memory that he would savour.
The director said that the commercial was a homage to Jean-Claude Van Damme in spite of the secret behind that split. Nilsson revealed that he was a fan of the man whom he called a “pop cultural icon.” According to the commercial’s director all the adverts that Van Damme has appeared in prior to the Volvo Truck reverse split stunt were not respectful of the action star’s career. He says that their advert did not look down on Van Damme’s status as an icon.
Credit has to be given to the drivers of those trucks. Nilsson says that for them to keep the vehicles in complete control while driving backwards was not an easy feat. This “epic split” commercial as just another in a series of stunts designed to show technological advances in the vehicles.
One previous stunt had a “ballerina” walking a line between two truck that were approaching a tunnel at speed. That video also went viral and pulled in over 7 million views. Van Damme’s stunt was done to capture the imaginations of young people on top of his older fans. The target was both old and potential truck drivers.
This is the only planned Volvo truck commercial that will feature Jean-Claude Van Damme. Considering the popularity of the advert, the action-star could not have asked for better publicity. Even knowing the secret behind that stunt takes nothing away from the fact that the 53 year-old actor can still do an epic split.
By Michael Smith