Yesterday it was reported that a stunt woman had died on the set of Deadpool 2 in Vancouver. Details were scarce for awhile but we know that the woman was going down a set of stairs on a motorcycle when she lost control and went through a glass window. Deadline has ID-ed the stuntwoman as professional road racer Joi “SJ” Harris. Harris was the first African-American road racer and this was the first time she had performed stunts for a movie.
Harris was performing a stunt for actress Zazie Beetz, who plays Domino. She was not wearing a helmet because the character was not supposed to be wearing a helmet.
“A source close to the situation said Harris, who was an experienced road racer, had been rehearsing the stunt all day Saturday. A studio production source said that there were “two full days of rehearsals over the weekend, and on Monday, they ran the stunt five-plus times before filming.”
Deadline is reporting that members of the crew have come forward and said that they are being run “ragged”. They are working long days that include weekends. Deadpool 2 is slated for a June 2018 release, so while this isn’t a rushed production, they can’t exactly move slowly, either.
“‘People are exhausted by the schedule,’ one crew member told Deadline, noting that they were working multiple 16-hour days in a row. That, however, is disputed by a studio production source, who said the daily shooting schedule on the Vancouver set is 12-13 hours, and there were only two 15-plus-hour days, about three weeks ago.”
Star Ryan Reynolds tweeted his condolences earlier today.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) August 14, 2017
Director David Leitch also gave a statement to Deadline:
“I’m deeply saddened by the loss of one of our stunt performers today. No words can express how I and the rest of the Deadpool 2 crew feel about this tragedy. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and loved ones in this difficult time.”
Harris was an outspoken advocate for female racing. She began motorcycle riding in Brooklyn and after 1,500 training hours became the first African-American woman licensed to actively compete in American Motorcyclist Association races. Although an on-track injury kept her from racing until 2014, she began to compete in the American Sportbike Racing Association/Championship Cup Series.
Harris said on her website:
“I’ve learned to accept that I am not the greatest rider that exists and that there is always something to learn when on track and pushing limits. Sometimes I’m going to eat it if I’m impatient. Everything takes time. Face your fears — you never know what you can be missing out on.”
The production has been halted until further notice, but Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said that the city will continue to support the filming at the accident’s location once the crew is ready:
“We are extremely saddened to hear of the tragic incident that took the life of a stuntwoman working on the set of Deadpool 2 downtown earlier today. Our condolences go out to her family and friends, and to all those working on set who have been impacted by the loss of their colleague. We will continue to support the crew and production as they work to recover emotionally and as they continue their next phase of filming.”
This is the second fatal accident involving a stunt performer this year; on July 12th, stuntman John Bernecker died from a fall on the set of The Walking Dead.
Joi Harris was a badass. We send our condolences to her family and friends. May she rest in peace.