When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filming at Pinewood Studios in London, the millions of Star Wars fans cried out when they learned that Harrison Ford had broken his leg while filming on board the Millennium Falcon set. A large door had crashed down on the actor’s leg, putting him out of action. Having one of their primary actors on the shelf caused numerous headaches for the production of the film. It looks like the headaches aren’t quite over yet, as the studio is now being sued over the accident.
Today the UK’s Health and Safety Executive announced that the production company responsible for the Millennium Falcon, Foodles Production (UK) Ltd would be prosecuted for the event. According to the HSE, after an investigation, they have found at least four separate violations of health and safety law that show that Foodles did not take the reasonable steps required to protect workers. The parent company of Foodles is, of course, Disney, so ultimately they will be the one dealing with this. The exact nature of the violations is a little difficult to parse thanks to the beautiful mess that is legal jargon, but basically, it comes down to the idea that the hydraulic door in question qualifies as dangerous machinery, and the production company did not take the proper steps to recognize the potential danger, and then protect against it. A hearing has been set for May 12 for the company to appear before a magistrate. It’s not clear what sort of punishment is possible if they found at fault. We assume, at the very, least, it will be very expensive.
It was June of 2014 when the injury occurred. It sent the entire shoot into upheaval, causing J.J. Abrams to have to shoot scenes around the actor. Now that the movie has been released, we see much more clearly what a big deal this was. Harrison Ford’s part in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was bigger than any of the other returning cast members. He stood right beside the leads of Daisy Ridley and John Boyega throughout most of the movie. Not having Han Solo on set would have practically brought the film to a standstill. That’s basically what Abrams says happens, although he now feels the accident, as terrible as it was, was a sort of blessing in disguise, as it forced production to pause and allowed him to take a look at the film and make some adjustments.
Ultimately the purpose of these regulations are to keep people safe. Hopefully, this will be one last reminder to everybody involved to be more careful so that nobody else gets seriously hurt on the set. Episode VIII has already been delayed once, let’s not make it any worse.
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