FOR many students, work experience placements are synonymous with making endless cups of tea.
But 21-year-old Freddie Maidens from Magham Down, got more than he bargained for when he was asked to step in as Bill Nighy’s stunt double on the set of his latest film Chalet Girl.
The multi-media production student - also a trained ski instructor - ended up rubbing shoulders with the stars, when he was asked to step in for the 61-year-old British actor, while completing a week-long work placement on set of the film shot at the ski resort of St Anton.
“The producer of Chalet Girl lives in Herstmonceux and her son went to Eastbourne College, the same school as me,” Freddie told the Gazette.
“I knew she was producing a big film so I offered to pay my way out to Austria to do a work placement,” he said.
After starting out as an unpaid runner, the film producers were so impressed by Freddie’s skiing skills they asked him to be Nighy’s stunt double.
“I had to come back to uni when I got a call two days later asking if I would come and work for them,” said Freddie.
“I thought, ‘this is an opportunity of a lifetime,’ so I decided to take time off uni. They paid for my flights and accommodation and paid me a wage. The producer asked if I would be Bill Nighy’s stunt double and I thought, ‘I’m not going to say no.’
I’m six foot two, and I’ve got the same build, I’m just 45 years younger,” he said.
As well as filming all of Nighy’s skiing shots in the film, Freddie can also be seen on screen as an extra sporting a pair of fluorescent yellow trousers.
After spending time teaching cast members Felicity Jones and Tamsin Egerton how to ski, the Oxford Brookes university student now counts many of the younger actors as his friends and even has Hollywood heart throb Ed Westwick’s mobile phone number.
“It is like a different world out there, You have got your friends back home and you’re standing next to someone who is admired by thousands of people.
“You can’t really be star-struck because you don’t want to look like an idiot. If I saw some of these people in the street, I would definitely be going up to them,” he said.
He now plans to use the experience as a spring board into a media career.
“In the media industry, it is really hard unless you know the contacts, it is absolutely who you know. That is the big thing for me. Once I’ve got the contacts I’ve got, now it is only a phone call away,” he added.
Pictures: Freddie with Ed Westwick and Bill Nighy with one of Chalet Girl’s two producers, Harriet Rees.