It’s been just over a week since the tragic death of stuntwoman Joi “S.J.” Harris on the set of Deadpool 2, and investigators are trying to learn how this could have happened.
But according to one stunt performer, the answer is simple: she wasn’t being ready.
The stunt in question was apparently routine, simply driving through a door, down a ramp, and stopping.
Another stuntwoman who was training Harris tells The Hollywood Reporter that stunt coordinators could see that the pro motorcycle racer, who had never done a movie before, was having trouble:
“She was improving, but I was watching her and, oh my God, I thought, ├óΓé¼╦£It’s just a matter of time before she crashes into a wall or runs somebody over.'”
“I cringed every time she went out. Like, when is she going to crash?”
The stuntwoman says she left the set and told producers she wanted out if they were going to go through with using Harris:
“They were warned, yes!”
So why did producers insist on employing Harris if she wasn’t ready?
According to veteran Hollywood stunt coordinator Conrad Palmisano, who says he has been in touch with some stunt workers on the Deadpool set:
“The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn’t qualified to be in. 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.”
Harris was doubling for actress Zazie Beetz, who plays mercenary Domino in the film.
It seems there are so few black female stunt performers, at least capable of doing motorcycle work, that producers had to go outside the stunt community to find someone to match Beetz.
Is there a lack of diversity in the stunt performers? Perhaps due to lack of demand — not enough black women being cast in action hero roles?
Others don’t buy that this was Harris’ fault. Moto-D Racing president Scott Diamond, whose company sponsored Harris as a racer, told Variety last week:
“I don’t know the specifics of the stunt, but I know she would have been safe and prudent. She was a very responsible and mature person. She wasn’t wild and crazy.”
But that doesn’t mean she was ready for a completely different job.
We hope to learn more as the investigation goes on, especially if this is something that can be prevented in the future.