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Mini Coopers steal the show in 'The Italian Job'

By Kendis Gibson
CNN Headline News

Mini Coopers
The Mini Coopers speed into the Los Angeles Metro Rail in a scene from "The Italian Job."

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(CNN) -- "The Italian Job" may be billed as a movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron, but perhaps the real star doesn't get any billing at all. You'd be excused if you confused the movie with a commercial for BMW's Mini Coopers.

The tiny roadsters are everywhere in the film, flying through tunnels, fighting with helicopters, racing trains and maneuvering through stairwells. Director F. Gary Gray explained: "The Mini Coopers are an integral part of the heist, they're nimble and they're part of the cast."

"The Italian Job" is about a group of bandits trying to pull off an elaborate gold heist, a remake of the 1969 Michael Caine film. But with the Mini Coopers starring, the film takes on a much different look and feel from the original.

"In good action pictures you usually see stuntmen do the work, and then you cut to the actors safely in their car, and I said, 'You know what, this is going to be a different movie. This is a movie where you're going to know the actors are out there doing their stunts.' So ... I sent them all to driving school," Gray said.

Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Jason Statham in a scene from the film.

For several weeks before shooting began, the stars endured driving school. "I didn't think it was necessary because I already have a driver's license and I used to drive a tow truck -- but for safety reasons obviously they wanted to get us in there to see what we could do," Wahlberg said.

Unfortunately for Wahlberg, the speeds, spins, and stops didn't agree with his stomach. He confessed "was probably five minutes in the car when I threw up all over."

As if the training itself wasn't enough, the actors then had to put that training into action, at times on some of Hollywood's busiest streets and in high-risk scenes like the face-off between a Mini Cooper and a chopper.

"Which was the only time I kind of blew the whistle and said 'Let's get the guy that looks like me.' But it's an amazing sequence," Wahlberg said.

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