These days, movies are all special effects. You know that what you’re seeing is probably not what actually happened. The Last Airbender is full of visual effects as characters control earth, air, fire and water. Director M. Night Shyamalan was the real deal though. He actually set his fire bending actor Shaun Toub on fire.
“Some of it is CGI but I had actual fire on my hand,” Toub said. “You can have it for 20 seconds before it burns. It’s a special gel. It’s crazy but it gets very hot.”
Toub still had all his arm hair so luckily there were no close calls. “I just got hot. It got a little close a couple times but those guys are pros. They would make sure you don’t get burned.”
Still, that must be quite a feeling to have actual fire on your hands. “It’s scary. It really is. Fire is a scary thing, especially when you’re that close to it. You feel the heat and it’s scary. I don't know how these people that set themselves on fire in movies. It’s pretty incredible.”
In the film, the benders perform martial arts katas that result in their elements bending to their will. Most fire benders can only control existing fire, but Taub’s character is special. “Everybody else needs a source to manipulate the fire but I am one of the only ones who can create it from nothing.”
The Last Airbender is now playing.