His debut film as a Hollywood stuntman was co-directed by his idol, John Wayne. And on TV, he doubled in a truly marvellous series – ‘The Sweeney’.
In the new year, viewers can see Leven’s Bob McCrystal in a different guise – as a deadly zombie, in a new take on the reality game show format.
‘I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse’ is a horror-reality show coming to BBC Three in February, inspired by such hit dramas as ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘In The Flesh’.
Contestants are trapped in a shopping mall – with echoes of George A. Romero’s zombie cult classic ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ – and have to engage in a variety of urban survival techniques to complete tasks.
What they don’t know, however, is they are being stalked by ‘walking corpses’, and they have to avoid being bitten by a zombie to stay alive, with a holiday prize for the last survivors standing.
Bob (67), who worked as a stuntman on some major Hollywood productions from the 1960s to the ’80s, was paproached by the programme maker, Tiger Aspect Productions, to play a ‘premier zombie’ – one who is out there all the time and menacing the contestants for the whole series.
The show was filmed at the former Forge shopping village in Livingston and Bob spent 10 days as a zombie chef – inspired by the fact he makes his living these days as a caterer.
The participants were apparently told the show would be something like ‘Big Brother’ – so the emergence of zombies came as a rather frightening surprise to some.
Bob and his fellow undead were not told anything about the entrants or their tasks.
Skulking stealthily in the shadows, they were given an approximate idea where the contestants would be – and then had to charge at them if they saw one.
Bob said the programme was tremendous fun to work on and extremely well put together.
Images of the zombies in all their finery remain a secret for the time being, but Bob added: “The make -up and everything was fantastic.
“They took moulds of our faces and all of that, and the prosthetics were brilliant.
“It was very, very well organised – I was quite taken aback. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.”
The experience also allowed Bob to display his old skills by doing a couple of stunt falls.
The dad of eight recently worked as stunt co-ordinator on a film entitled ‘The Legend of Black Diamond’, a dark satire on the global banking crisis, with revenge tale and spaghetti western influences, which was made by community film makers Channel Fife TV/Glass Bullet Productions.
It was shot in various Fife locations, including Levenmouth, and it’s hoped the film will be premiered locally in 2015.
Leven chef Bob McCrystal has described his 18 years as a stuntman as getting paid to play cowboys and Indians – or cops and robbers – until a serious injury finished his career in 1986. Originally from Renfrewshire, he left with his family for the USA in 1960 and moved into stunt work after a spell as a uniformed tour guide at Universal Studios in Hollywood. His first film was ‘The Green Berets’ in 1968, co-directed by John Wayne, while he was in over 20 major cinema productions – including four James Bond films – and was stunt adviser, arranger and performer in over 100 TV series and programmes.