Entertainment

Who is Joe Watts? Fast & Furious 9 Producers Hit With $1 Million Fine Over Stuntman’s Skull Injury

Joe Watts suffered a skull fracture during the filming of the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise in 2019. The producers of “F9” were fined over $1 million in a British court after a stunt performer sustained “life-changing” injuries on set. FF9 Pictures Limited, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, faced the fine after admitting guilt for violating the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act at Luton Magistrates Court near London last week. The injured stunt artist, Joe Watts, known for his work in films like “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” was severely harmed in 2019 when a stunt went awry, causing him to be thrown 25 feet onto a concrete floor. Watts had a broken skull as well as traumatic brain damage, all of which have had long-term consequences for his handicap. An inquiry later revealed that the line on his stunt vest had come undone.

The United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive, responsible for the prosecution, highlighted that FF9 Pictures failed to account for the possibility of a “rope snap or link failure” in the initial risk assessment. Other shortcomings mentioned include neglecting to inspect Watts’ harness as required within the last six months and failing to extend the crash covering after changes were made to the stunt sequence. “Mr Watts’ injuries constituted life-changing, and he might simply have been killed,” HSE inspector Roxanne Barker said. “In stunt work, it is not just preventing a fall but reducing the possibility of an injury.” District Judge Talwinder Buttar, who heard the case, fined the business £800,000 ($1 million) & stated Watts was “lucky to be alive” following the tragedy at Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden. In addition, FF9 was sentenced to pay $18,600 in charges. Watts is also seeking $1.2 million in damages for personal injuries.

Is Professional Stunt Artist Joe Watts Okay? Fast And Furious Creators Fined $1 Million After Stuntman Suffers Brain Damage

Joe Watts, a professional stunt performer as well as a member of The British Stunt Register, fractured his skull in 2019 while filming the ninth movie of the Fast and Furious franchise. FF9 Pictures, the creators of Fast & Furious 9: The Fast Saga and a multimillion-pound subsidiary of Universal Pictures, were fined £800,000 ($1 million) at Luton Magistrates’ Court on Friday, November 24, 2023, in connection to the brain damage sustained by Watts. The 2019 incident occurred at Warner Brothers’ Leavesden, Hertfordshire studios. Watts plummeted 25 feet (7 metres) and sustained a brain injury when his safety line snapped during the performance. According to the BBC, FF9 Pictures paid the penalties and admitted in court to shortcomings in health and safety. The Fast and Furious series revolves around street racing, heists, espionage, and the theme of family. Joe Watts played a crucial role in the ninth installment, Fast & Furious 9: The Fast Saga, released by Universal Pictures on June 25, 2021. According to IMDb, Watts has contributed to various prominent projects, including Game of Thrones, Johnny English Strikes Again, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. In July 2019, during a staged combat scene at Warner Bros. Studios in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, Watts unfortunately fell 25 feet headfirst onto the concrete ground.

After the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident, FF9 Pictures was fined £800,000 on Friday for Watts’ injuries, as well as UK Judge Talwinder Buttar stated the stuntman was “lucky to be alive.” Joe Watts was intended to be flung over a performer’s right shoulder in the original stunt. However, the producers made a last-minute modification, and Joe was informed that he would be tossed over the actor’s left shoulder. As a result, the stuntman failed to see the crash pads that had been laid out for him. According to court documents, Joe Watts sustained a broken skull and significant traumatic brain injury, resulting left him permanently crippled and disabled. According to Variety, the stuntman was also in a coma for five days and suffered from a psychological illness as well as shoulder injuries. According to reports, the safety line that was placed there in case of an accident was not checked between takes, and it separated from his vest on the second take. The UK Judge chastised FF9 Pictures, saying it was “astonishing” that the matting was not modified despite the shift in routine from the right shoulder to the left during rehearsals. In court, FF9 agreed to pay the $1 million fine and admitted to failures in health and safety.