Shaken Hollywood Discovers Grim Reality That Actors, Stuntmen are Mortal

We knew all about the Chinese warship fires, Daniel Craig finger severings and a few other violent tragedies to have recently befallen the sets of several high-profile film shoots. But we never quite thought of it as what one might classify as a trend, that three-to-a-bundle happenstance requiring pieces like the one in today's LA Times hinting stunt snafus are the newest, hottest, must-have Hollywood mishaps:

[John Woo's film] Red Cliff isn't the only would-be blockbuster beset by accidents and tragedy. Two stuntmen were burned while making the Adam Sandler comedy You Don't Mess With the Zohan. Visual effects technician Conway Wickliffe was killed while prepping the Batmobile for the upcoming The Dark Knight. According to a production source, Wickliffe and a colleague were videotaping the Batmobile as it spun around a racetrack to see if it was properly rigged to do stunts. Wickliffe was hanging out the window with the video recorder when the driver accidentally careened into a tree. The police investigated and found no wrongdoing.

To say nothing of poor James Bond's car trouble, including two unintentionally totaled autos and one injured stuntman on Quantum of Solace. But there's hope yet after the jump!

"In the last 10 years, and particularly in the last five years, CGI has kept the risk assessment down on most stunts," says Sony's president of physical production, Gary Martin. "We have alternatives. We have safe ways to plan the stunts and keep people out of harm's way."

Sony, like all studios, has a team of safety specialists who travel from set to set to monitor stunts and crew safety. Martin declines to speak specifically about any Sony film — such as Quantum of Solace — but he says the recent spate of accidents is mostly a reflection of the increased amount of films with stunts and spectacle.

Kind of like how our increased, sincere affection for Mexican culture has yielded the likes of Carlos Mencia and Beverly Hills Chihuahua — accidents literally do happen. And according to government figures cited by the Times, it's to the tune of 270 injured actors and 230 dinged-up stunt performers on film sets in 2006. But these are indeed the times we live in, and Defamer salutes each and all of the industry's brave stunt performers; may you never again know third-degree burns in the service of an Adam Sandler comedy.