When news broke in 2014 that Harrison Ford had been injured on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, his leg pinned beneath the door of the Millennium Falcon, it seemed a minor—if symbolic—setback. Sure, filming was delayed while Ford recuperated, but J.J. Abrams later said the time off actually ended up helping him refocus the script and rallied the crew. And as for Ford—while there was a certain, your-Dad-thought-he-could-still-skateboard embarrassment to being hurt by the thing he once piloted with such cocky bravado—he didn’t seem to let it affect his mood, remaining as cheerily, unflappably hostile as ever. So we all laughed it off, made our quippy Star Wars references, and moved on with our lives. But hey, as it turns out, Harrison Ford could have been killed! That’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?
The extent to which we are all chucklefucks was revealed in recent testimony before the Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court, where a Disney-owned production company pled guilty to two health and safety violations on the Pinewood Studios set. That company, Foodles Production, doesn’t just sound like a madcap, Muppet-run cafeteria. It also apparently took a zany approach to safeguarding the Millennium Falcon’s hydraulic door—the weight of which was “comparable to a small car”—and specifically, against just anyone pressing the big, shiny button that operated it while living icons happened to be standing underneath.
The Guardian reports:
Milton Keynes magistrates court heard how the hydraulic spaceship door was operated by another person and that as the actor passed beneath it, he was hit hard in the pelvis and pinned to the floor. Ford was then airlifted to hospital in Oxford.
Andrew Marshall, prosecuting, said the breaches has caused a “risk of death” and that if the emergency stop had not been pressed in time, it could have been a very different outcome for Ford. “It could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn’t was because an emergency stop was activated,” he [told] Marshall.
As The Guardian notes, Ford described the incident in a slightly more colorful way during a talk-show interview with Jonathan Ross, saying the newfangled Millennium Falcon didn’t have the old-fashioned pulley system on its doors like he was used to, and elucidating how our unslakable thirst for new technology will eventually destroy everything we love.
“Now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a fucking great hydraulic door which closed at light speed and somebody said, ‘Ooh I wonder what this is?’
“And the door came down and hit me on my left hip because I was turned to my right. 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.”
While Foodles has pled guilty to the charges of failing to ensure workplace safety, its executives plan to contest the “level of risk” involved before sentencing on August 22. Given that Ford recovered from being crushed by a hydraulic door, then walked away from a plane crash nine months later, they might have a point.