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Crew Had Raised Concerns About 'Deadpool 2' Stunt Person's Ability Before Death
The August 14 death of stuntwoman S.J. Harris on the set of Deadpool 2 came after stunt coordinators and crew had raised concerns about the possibility of an accident, reports The Hollywood Reporter. According to the Reporter, producers ignored the concerns by crew members who were "growing increasingly agitated and nervous about the potential for something to go wrong." Harris, a 40-year-old professional motorcycle racer, had never done on-camera work before.
Harris, an African-American woman, was hired to double as actress Zazie Beetz, who is also black. “The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn’t qualified to be in,” Conrad Palmisano, a stunt coordinator who had kept close contact with the Vancouver crew on the day of Harris's death, told the Reporter. “The stunt coordinators caved to the pressure. All the stunt people could do was take it to their higher-ups. They’re going to follow their chain of command.”
But others contest this depiction of the situation. “To say an unqualified person was put in this position is absolutely untrue,” a source told Deadline. “She was the best candidate for the job.”
Harris died during the sixth take of the stunt, Deadline adds. A preliminary report by WorkSafeBC, the Canadian version of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, concludes that Harris died a result of her failing to stop her motorcycle on a large platform. She overshot the platform, hit a curb, and was thrown from the bike into a glass pane. Deadline further notes that the WorkSafeBC report suggests Harris's death was the result of a "freak low-speed accident."
“I cringed every time she went out,” a source working with Harris told the Reporter. “Like, when is she going to crash?”
Production on the film was halted immediately after the fatal crash, and restarted 48-hours later with a moment of silence for Harris.
Harris' death occurred nearly a month to the day after John Bernecker, a stuntman for the TV series Walking Dead, fell while performing a stunt on set in Atlanta, Georgia. He died from the resulting massive head injuries.