Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in Michael Winterbottom’s THE TRIP TO GREECE. An IFC Films Release.
People have seen me eat and joke my way across England, Italy, Spain, and now Greece with my friend Steve Coogan for The Trip series. But the place that I want to return to again and again is Sydney.
I never thought I would visit Sydney because it was simply so far away. In my mind it was just a place with nice beaches, and I thought, “Why would I travel all that way just for beaches?” But then in 2005 I got a job on a sitcom called Supernova (it’s OK if you haven’t heard of it—it didn’t set the world on fire) and it was a coproduction between the BBC and an Australian channel, so I went to Sydney to film for nine weeks and then again the following year for six weeks.
I fell in love with it immediately. It’s a curious place for a British person to go because so much of it is familiar—so much of it has absorbed our culture. And yet the smells are very different, and the light is different. There’s an actual work-life balance, and there doesn’t seem to be a caste system, which is a nice change from Britain. Life there is for living and for experiencing the outdoors. And because of that, you find yourself doing things you never would have considered doing in a million years. Like skydiving.
My wife did it first. I couldn’t go with her while I was filming because of insurance, but she was so enthused by it that I knew I had to do it. So the day after we wrapped, the director and one of my costars and I drove out to Picton to take the leap. I wasn’t scared. Really, I was bewildered, like I couldn’t take in the reality of the situation. I remember the instructors saying we were as high as you could be without oxygen and that soon after you jump you reach terminal velocity. I’m surprised I wasn’t scared after learning that.
Once I was hurtling through the sky, the first thing that struck me was that I had never fallen for this long. We’ve all had the misfortune of falling from a tree, but with that, it’s only a second before you hit the ground. With this, I just kept on falling. I was going like a bullet. I don’t remember what I saw. It was less what I was looking at and more what I was feeling: sensory overload.
When my instructor pulled the cord, suddenly everything went quiet. I hadn’t realized how loud it had been until that moment. And then we just drifted down. He brought me in for a nice, soft landing, and I was elated. It was such an adrenaline rush—especially since at that time I wasn’t the kind of person who was going looking for experiences like that.
Even when I wasn’t parachuting down from the sky, Sydney made a big impression on me. When we finished filming and I came home, I missed it—so much so that in the middle of the night, I’d go on webcams and look at the beaches and the harbor. I was desperate to go back. Finally last year I went over there with my standup tour. I played three nights at the Opera House, which was incredible, but I didn’t go sky diving again. I feel like I got away with it that one time. But I have become a little more adventurous as time has gone on. Who knows what I’ll do next time I go back. I hear shark diving is fun…
Actor and comedian Rob Brydon stars in The Trip to Greece, the fourth and final installment of the celebrated film series, out May 22 on digital platforms and at select theaters.