Joe Watts can “consider himself lucky to be alive.” This is what one of the judges of the Luton court in the United Kingdom declared, when discussing the terrible accident of this stuntman on the set of Fast and Furious 9. Summoned before the English courts, the subsidiary of Universal, FF9 Pictures, was fined 920,000 euros after the serious accident of Joe Watts, Vin Diesel's understudy for this film, on the set. In the summer of 2019, while the actors were filming at the Warner Bros studios in north London, Joe Watts fell violently eight meters onto concrete. “During a fight scene on a balcony, his safety harness came off when he was to be thrown over the shoulder of another actor,” says the BBC.
A non-fatal accident, but which will leave “lifelong consequences” for this stuntman, who escapes with a fractured skull and brain damage.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the body behind the prosecution, criticizes the producers of the FF9 in particular for having shown great passivity with regard to safety issues. Changing the choreography on the fly and unverified material between two takes: the allegations are serious and FF9 Pictures Limited pleads guilty. The producers will therefore have to pay compensation of 920,000 euros to Joe Watts, an almost anecdotal sum for a film which brought in no less than 726 million dollars in revenue.
This event recalls the terrible accident that occurred during the filming of the seventh film in the Harry Potter saga, where David Holmes, Daniel Radcliffe's understudy, suffered a spinal injury, an accident which paralyzed him for life. Filming was then suspended. Since then, Daniel Radcliffe has announced the production of a documentary which will honor his lifelong friend and understudy.