After a stunt-gone-wrong took the life of professional motorcycle racer Joi “SJ” Harris on the set of “Deadpool 2”, a voice has emerged with new details surrounding the tragedy.
Emerson Wong, who also performed stunts for the upcoming sequel, tells ET Canada exclusively that the original stunt double for actress Zazie Beetz was unavailable, and that Harris was brought in days before. This was her first time ever performing stunt work on a film.
“She was kind of brought in as a last minute backup,” says Wong, who was not working during Monday’s tragedy and did not meet Harris. “She is a professional motorcycle rider in the racing world, but because it was her first stunt job, perhaps it could’ve been because she was a bit nervous.”
Even though this was Harris’ first take as a stunt performer, Wong says she was a natural choice, since she had years of experience as a motorcycle racer.
He explains, “When they don’t have someone they need from the stunt world, they go outside and find someone from the professional world of that sport, and that’s usually how they start their careers.”
The Hollywood Reporter writes that sources in the stunt community believe Harris was hired not because of her experience, but because her skin tone was a close match to Beetz – a balance Wong says the stunt coordinator and director work to strike.
“The stunt coordinator will say, ‘Skill first,’ and the director will say, ‘I want the person to look as close as possible,'” he explains. “At the end of the day, the stunt coordinator is the boss who says ‘this is the person that’s the closest you can get, and this is what we have to work with.'”
An investigation into the accident is ongoing, but Wong maintains that the set of “Deadpool 2” was “absolutely professional.” Wong adds: “Everyone there is top-notch. When I worked on there, everyone is just at the top of their game, so I know that the safety is paramount there.”
Wong has been a stunt performer in the industry for 15 years and owns a well-known martial arts and training studio, Pulse Academy, in Toronto.
Meanwhile, a redacted preliminary inspection report by WorkSafeBC into the death of SJ Harris has been released, with notes from the inspection indicating that Harris was thrown off her Ducati Hyperstrada 939 when the bike hit the curb.
“During the first shooting of the scene, the stunt driver continued driving beyond the planned stopping spot on the stairway landing and continued to drive down a second ramp built over the bottom stairs and across the roadway,” reads part of the redacted report, adding that Harris was thrown from the bike and propelled through the plate glass window of a nearby building.