Harrison Ford was almost crushed to death while filming Star Wars: Force Awakens and this week a British court held Disney responsible for the injury.
On June 12, 2014, Ford was in England on-set of the Star Wars film. Ford was not aware that the set of the Millennium Falcon was live during a rehearsal at Pinewood Studios, and pressed a button before was walking backward through a portal. The button was live and activated the hydraulic door to slam down on the actor as he passed underneath. Ford’s ankle joint was turned 90 degrees under the weight of the door.
Luckily, an emergency stop button was activated, preventing the door from completely crushing the actor. The force of the door was similar to that of a small car.
Ford was flown to the hospital for surgery, and made a full recovery. The film’s production was put on hold for two weeks after the injury.
J.J. Abrams, the director, and writer for Star Wars, was also injured when he attempted to save Ford. The filmmaker attempted to pry the door off Ford until he heard a popping noise in his back and later learned he broke a vertebrae.
In February, the British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it would move to prosecute Foodles Production, the Disney-owned production company producing Star Wars, for violations of the Health and Safety Work Act of 1974. The HSE noted that all employers are required by law to take “reasonable steps” to protect their workers from harm, a requirement that is “as true on a film set as a factory floor.”
This week, during court hearings on the case, Foodles Production confessed to two breaches of British health and safety law, but the company’s attorney noted that he would challenge the level of risk that the court had said was involved in the accident.
Foodles Production will be sentenced on August 22 at the Aylesbury Crown Court. After the criminal case is complete, the company could face a civil personal injury lawsuit.
On-set injuries can be serious, and often involve malfunctioning heavy equipment. These injuries are more common than most people realize; a few have happened since the start of the year.
Last month, Dominic Purcell was on-set at Foxs Prison Break drama in Morocco when a set piece came loose and fell on his head. The injury caused a severe facial injury and heavy bleeding, but Purcell has since made a full recovery.
Earlier this year, actor Dylan O’Brien fell off a set while filming Maze Runner: The Death Cure. The actor broke three bones in his face, and the movie production was postponed.
In 2014, the 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones was struck by a train while on-set of the now-abandoned movie Midnight Rider. Jones’ family filed a lawsuit, and the director of the movie eventually pled guilty to manslaughter and is expected to face jail time.