Former Fast and Furious stunt performer Joe Watts has filed a lawsuit because of permanent injuries he suffered on the set of F9.
Over the more than two decades that the Fast and Furious franchise has been around, the movies have become synonymous with pulse-pounding action sequences that leave audiences on the edge of their seats. With the tenth title currently zipping around theaters and the eleventh (and final) movie on the way, today’s spotlight is being shone on 2021’s F9: The Fast Saga as per Variety, an accident on set irreparably changed the life of stunt performer Joe Watts.
In the article, producers of the ninth Fast and Furious feature admitted that their negligence led to one of the stunt team members sustaining “life-changing” injuries. Having previously worked on some of the biggest action features out there – with credits ranging from Solo: A Star Wars Story to Pokemon: Detective Pikachu – Joe Watts was more than capable of stepping into the wild world of racing in F9. Joining the team as the stand-in for Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto, there’s no doubt that Watts was overjoyed to be the newest member of the family.
It was in 2019 that Joe Watts was working alongside another stunt performer while filming the Fast and Furious movie in Leavesden Studios when the unthinkable happened. The maneuver in question saw Watts tossed over a balcony and onto a concrete floor from more than 20 feet in the air. Ensuring (or thought to be ensuring) his safety was a wire that was to put his fall to a screeching halt.
Unfortunately, the wire broke, which in turn launched the Fast and Furious stuntman to the ground, missing the safety mat and landing on the hard cement below. Immediately taken in for medical treatment, it was discovered that Watts – who ended up in a coma – suffered a fractured skull, psychiatric injury, traumatic brain injury, and shoulder injuries. After five days, the stunt performer awoke from his coma but, according to his lawyers, he’s still suffering the after-effects which include “a series of cognitive and physical issues” that have forced him to undergo extensive therapy sessions and that will have an impact on his life.
After focusing on his own wellbeing and recovery, Watts brought a legal claim for over $1.2 million against FF9 Pictures Limited. As was laid out in the initial statement, the performer’s legal team said that because of what happened to him on the set of the Fast and Furious film, Watts would never be able to return to his beloved career of being a stunt performer. Rather than duking it out in court, FF9 Pictures immediately took responsibility for their shortcomings and admitted that their “negligence” was “the sole cause of the accident.” While he may never work again, Watts is grateful that the studio didn’t drag out the case in court and that his accident can hopefully shine a light on how companies need to be more on top of their safety guidelines.
As for the franchise as a whole, Fast and Furious, isn’t slowing down any time soon as, even though the upcoming film is set to be its last, there’s a good chance that off-shoots will continue to pour from the creative minds backing the legacy over two decades in the making. For now, you can check out Fast X currently playing in theaters.