A firm was forced to pay $2 million Wednesday for violating health and safety breaches after Harrison Ford had his leg crushed by a hydraulic door on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Guardian is reporting.
The Foodles production company, a U.K. firm, pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching health and safety duties to the 2014 incident. Witnesses in court said that the door which acted like a “blunt guillotine” came within “millimeters from his face” as the Indiana Jones actor passed underneath it, the door pinned him to the ground by the pelvis.
The 73-year-old actor, who was reprising his role as Han Solo at the Pinewood Studios in London, had stepped on set, only to be knocked down by the heavy door of the space ship prop of the Millennium Falcon.
Ford sustained serious injuries including a broken left leg, which required surgery to put together the fibula bones and fractured tibia. He also needed plastic surgery on his left hand after a deep laceration.
The presiding judge said the firm failed to effectively communicate the risks and dangers on set to the Airforce One star.
“The greatest failing of all on behalf of the company is a lack of communication…that is the most serious breach here…if only they had included Mr. Ford in all the discussions, he might have at least been alert to the dangers he had to avoid.”
Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said that the Star Wars actor had walked through the almost fatal door with another actor during a second dress rehearsal. According to the lawyer, because the door had not closed during previous rehearsals the Presumed Innocent star assumed that the set was not live.
The button of the door which was constructed to be remotely shut down by a special effects operator was flicked on after a signal from a crew member, as Ford was walking through. People on set, who reacted fast, stopped the door from completely closing at about 90 percent.
Ford said technology had rapidly developed since he first starred in the early Star Wars films, 40 years ago, adding that the doors of the Millennium Falcon were controlled by hand back in 1977.
“Now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a great hydraulic door which closed at light speed… and the door came down and hit me on my left hip…and then it flung my left leg up and it dislocated my ankle and as it drove me down to the floor, my legs slapped on the ramp up to the ‘Millennium Falcon’ and broke both bones in my left leg.”
The British firm owned by Disney issued a statement after the ruling, regretting the unfortunate incident, asserting that the safety of cast and crew remained a priority. The court had recognized that Foodles implemented safety and health protocols after the incident and confirmed a safe and seamless film production afterwards.
Ford had compared the brunt force of the hydraulic door to the weight of a small car. Witnesses recalled that the Hollywood star had clutched his chest in pain as efforts were made to free him. Harrison Ford spent over two months in a wheelchair before filming could continue.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens made more than $2 billion worldwide.
The unprecedented success of the movie has made Harrison Ford the highest grossing actor in Hollywood movie history. His catalog of 41 movies has grossed $4.7 billion at the box office. It was enough to unseat, Samuel L. Jackson whose 68 movies have made $ 4.6 billion in movie theaters.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is also the highest-grossing domestic movie ever with $936 million in box office sales, zipping past James Cameron’s Avatar which raked in $760.5 million. It took the Star Wars movie just 20 days after it opened to set the record.
[Featured mage by Jordan Strauss/AP Images]