LONDON – A British production company owned by Disney pleaded guilty Tuesday to two health and safety violations on the set of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in connection with an incident during filming that resulted in a broken leg for Harrison Ford.
Ford, reprising his role as Han Solo, was walking through the spaceship Millennium Falcon when a hydraulically operated door knocked him over and pinned him to the floor. Although he suffered only a broken left leg in the June 2014 accident, the force of the blow could have killed him, prosecutors said.
London-based Foodles Production acknowledged that it broke the law on the Pinewood Studios set. It pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to ensure workplace safety. Two other charges were dropped. Sentencing is expected to take place next month.
Ford, then 71, was airlifted to a hospital in Oxfordshire for treatment. He eventually completed filming on the J.J. Abrams-directed blockbuster.
He has said that he did not believe the set to be live when he and Abrams stood conferring on the Millennium Falcon. Someone pressed a button that caused the door to close on him with what health and safety regulators say was a force comparable to the weight of a small car.
“This was a foreseeable incident. Foodles Production Ltd. has accepted it failed to protect actors and staff,” Britain’s Health and Safety Executive said in a statement. “The British film industry has a world-renowned reputation for making exceptional films. Managing on-set risks in a sensible and proportionate way for all actors and staff – regardless of their celebrity status – is vital to protecting both on-screen and off-screen talent, as well as protecting the reputation of the industry.”
Ford joked about the accident on a British talk show last December, blaming his injury on modern-day technology.
“In the original film, the door…would have been closed with a pulley and a stagehand just closing it,” Ford said. “But now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a f—ing great hydraulic door which closed at light speed.”