The tale of Harry Potter's paralysed stuntman David Holmes has paved the way for a much safer Hollywood.
During production on the wizarding world's seventh instalment The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in 2009, Holmes happily resumed his post as lead actor Daniel Radcliffe's stunt double, but one fight sequence involving Lord Voldemort's serpent horcrux Nagini was to change his life forever.
Rehearsals for the scene went well, but the crew believed this stunt could be improved upon, so they decided to add even more weight to the pulley system that would launch Holmes (as Harry) into the air at a spectacular speed.
"The rehearsal the day before was violent and fast, but we went for something a bit faster and a bit more violent the second day," he recalled in an interview with The Guardian.
"In stunt rehearsals we were constantly trying to push the boundaries of what stunt action could be, whether that is flying through the air or a 15-minute fight routine."
David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived, an HBO Original Documentary which tells the extraordinary story of Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double and their lasting friendship, premieres November 16 on HBO Max. #DavidHolmes pic.twitter.com/JLPkaxPe85
— HBO Max Nordic (@HBOMaxNordic) November 11, 2023
Devastatingly, Holmes smashed into a wall and flopped to the floor, unable to feel his legs. The 40-year-old now lives with four full-time carers due to paralysis from the chest down, with the pain compared to "10 elephants standing on top of my head".
"I knew straight away. I knew I'd broken my neck. I was fully conscious," he said.
As a result, stunt safety systems throughout the entertainment industry received a major overhaul, which is a legacy Holmes can hold onto.
He went on to tell the publication: "It was an old way of doing flight on a wire with weights that is not done any more. It's banned in the film industry. The repercussions from my accident mean nobody will be put in that situation again. And that's enough for me. It's much more sophisticated and controlled now."
Radcliffe has executive produced a new documentary chronicling Holmes's story, which comes to Sky Documentaries and Now in the UK next week.
"Thankfully for me, because of this film, my legacy on camera is not now me just hitting that wall 14 years ago. Maybe people will take some positives from the way I handled it, hopefully with a bit of dignity – even though all the dignity is taken away," the star commented.
Watch: Daniel Radcliffe has made a documentary about his paralysed former Harry Potter stunt double David Holmes