Harrison Ford ‘could have been killed’ on Star Wars set

Production firm pleads guilty at UK court to failing to protect workers after actor broke leg

Harrison Ford at the European premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in Leicester Square, London in December. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters

Harrison Ford at the European premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in Leicester Square, London in December. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters

 

A production company involved in making Star Wars: The Force Awakens has pleaded guilty in a British court to failing to protect actors and workers after an incident in which Harrison Ford’s leg was broken, officials said on Tuesday.

The star, who plays the much-loved character Han Solo, was injured after he became trapped under a rapidly closing metal-framed door during filming in June 2014 at Pinewood Studios, near London.

The power of the door’s drive system was comparable to the weight of a small car, said Britain’s Health and Safety Executive, a state agency which enforces workplace safety regulations.

“This was a foreseeable incident,” a spokesman for the agency said in a statement.

“Managing on-set risks in a sensible and proportionate way for all actors and staff – regardless of their celebrity status – is vital to protecting both on-screen and off-screen talent, as well as protecting the reputation of the industry,” he said.

Prosecuting at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court, Andrew Marshall said that Ford had gone through the door with another actor and hit a button.

He started to walk back through the door, believing the set was not live and that it would not close. But the court heard it was remotely operated by another person, and that as the star passed underneath it he was hit in the pelvic area and pinned to the ground.

Mr Marshall said there was a “risk of death”, saying: “It could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn’t was because an emergency stop was activated.”

Representatives of the production firm, London-based Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, entered the guilty plea during the hearing. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ford, who was 71 at the time, was airlifted to a hospital in Oxford after the incident and later had surgery on his left leg.

With global ticket sales worth more than $2 billion (€1.82bn), The Force Awakens, the seventh instalment of the Star Wars saga, is the third highest-grossing movie in Hollywood history, behind Avatar and Titanic.

Agencies