HE’S become a global star cheating death on a motorbike so it’s surprising to hear that motocross icon Robbie Maddison spends his downtime watching documentaries about Picasso.
On reflection though, it’s not all that hard to fathom. Both made careers pushing the boundaries of their art and redefining what’s possible. To think they could be kindred spirits is hardly a stretch.
“I look at Picasso and the way he re-invented painting,” Maddison said.
“His paintings were really different for their time but became really timeless pieces because he took a different view of his subject.
“It’s all perspective really, when you step back and look at the situation with fresh eyes and say ‘here’s the fad, here’s the trend, lets flip it on its lid and do something different’.
“That’s what sticks out, when you’re able to do something different and do it in a refreshing way.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, you can always step back and just think ‘how am I approaching this? How could I do it differently?’ That’s essentially what I do.”
I don’t really try and inspire people to do what I’ve done and try to replicate the things I’ve done because I’ve cheated deathRobbie Maddison
Riding a motorbike on the world-famous Teahupoo surf break is one example. Back-flipping over the Tower Bridge in London is another, as is an 80-metre jump over the Corinth Canal in Greece.
It goes with a host of other world-firsts and records, including the world’s longest ever motorcycle jump (106m).
Quite frankly, they’re not experiences he’d recommend to others. They do illustrate a wider philosophy he is keen to share – particularly with young people.
“I don’t really try and inspire people to do what I’ve done and try to replicate the things I’ve done because I’ve cheated death,” he says.
“It’s for my own reasons and my own personal growth that my story is the way it is. My inspiration for people is to look at what I’ve done and use it as motivation to follow their own path.
“I never followed anyone else’s path, I just followed what was true to my heart. I’d like to think that I could inspire the next great cartoonist or politician or lawyer or doctor.
“It's more about promoting my philosophy on life rather than what I’ve physically done as motivation for people.”
The 37-year-old father-of-two admits his motivations are different these days, largely as a result of his award-winning stunt work in Hollywood.
It’s seen him double for the likes of Daniel Craig (Skyfall), Vin Diesel (xXx franchise) and most recently Tom Hardy (Venom) and develop a growing appreciation for what goes on behind the camera.
He’s not about to jump off the bike just yet – in fact he only recently got back on it – but it’s where he feels his future lies.
“I’m always thinking of projects and content that’s exciting and engaging for people,” he said.
“For me it used to be inventing new tricks but I’ve sort of veered away from that. In the past I definitely got stuck thinking I always had to do the next craziest trick but I’ve got to the point where I’m older, I’ve got kids and it’s not what it’s about anymore.
“Now more so I want to have people nourished by the content and the way it’s shot. It’s not just about the stunts, it’s about how it’s captured and bringing some different ideas to that.
“Back in the day it was all about the riding for me and the tricks but now I’m looking at every single piece of the puzzle, questioning and trying to push the limits in every part of it.
“It’s still achieving the same goal but just doing it in a different way and making my work different and keeping me passionate and motivated.”
It’s what brought him back to Kiama last week, working with restaurant chain Oporto on their new ‘feed your adventure’ campaign.
The shoot at Saddleback Mountain took place over stunning views of the South Coast and Lake Illawarra and left the Los Angeles-based Kiama High School alum pinching himself.
“You forget how beautiful the South Coast is,” he said.
“I took a year off last year after the death of my mother-in-law. I just had to spend some time with family and get through that rough patch.
“I’m not really too rehearsed or super confident but I was able to step the level up, ride clean and get some great shots.
“I feel blessed that I’m the go-to guy to help people do these exciting new things.
“I’m stoked to be able to come home, have a meat pie again and be back on the South Coast. It’s living the dream.”