Crew members on the set of the upcoming Deadpool 2 claim they had increasing concerns over the ability of racer Joi “SJ” Harris to safely perform the motorcycle stunt that eventually killed her last week.
The Hollywood Reporter quotes a production source who said that the desire to have a stunt person who matched the gender and ethnicity of Domino actress Zazie Beetz might have led to hire someone without the necessary stunt experience for the job. Harris had never been on a film shoot before.
One stunt performer told THR:
“She was improving, but I was watching her and, oh my God, I thought, ‘It’s just a matter of time before she crashes into a wall or runs somebody over…'”
Another member of the stunt team allegedly reported these concerns to the producers, but claims they were ignored.
It was apparently a very straightforward stunt, involving riding a motorcycle out of building, down a small ramp over several stairs, and stopping at a landing nearby. But this is what actually happened:
According to a preliminary report issued by WorkSafeBC, the Canadian equivalent of OSHA, Harris “continued driving beyond the planned stopping spot on the stairway landing and continued to drive down a second ramp built over the bottom stairs and across the roadway.” Still astride the motorcycle, the report continues, Harris rode into a concrete sidewalk curb, where she “was thrown off the motorcycle and propelled through a plate-glass window of a building.”
Did the Deadpool 2 producers knowingly hire a woman without the requisite skills for this stunt? Was there such a lack of qualified African-American female stunt performers for this particular job that they had decided to reach out to a relative neophyte to movie stuntwork? And how can this type of situation be avoided in the future—both in terms of ensuring the safety of all crewmembers and encouraging more diversity in the pool of actual trained stuntpeople?
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