‘Midnight Rider’ Star Pulls Out of Movie After Fatal Accident

Mike Pont/FilmMagic

William Hurt has pulled out of his starring role in “Midnight Rider,” in which he was set to play musician Gregg Allman.

Production on “Midnight Rider” was halted after second camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed in a Feb. 20 train accident on a railway bridge in Georgia.

Hurt had come on board the project in early January. He was on the bridge where the crew was filming a dream sequence involving a hospital bed on the tracks.

Jones was killed and seven others were injured when a train unexpectedly came down the tracks as the crew was at the bridge shooting the sequence, shot in a rural area near Jesup, Ga.

Recent reports that Director Randall Miller and his production company Unclaimed Freight were looking to re-start pre-production in Los Angeles have led to creation of a Facebook page called “I REFUSE to work on Midnight Rider! For Sarah!!!”

Wayne County Sheriff John Carter said last week that his office will not pursue their own criminal charges stemming from the accident. Carter said his office planned to lay out the case to the district attorney in Georgia’s Brunswick Judicial Circuit this week.

Among the key questions is whether any type of criminal charges will be filed, such as trespassing or negligence.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board also are conducting investigations into the incident, as are attorneys representing Jones’ family with the possibility of filing a civil complaint.

Hurt had been set to star as the present-day version of Gregg Allman. Tyson Ritter, the lead singer/songwriter of the All American Rejects, was cast as the  young Gregg Allman, along with Wyatt Russell as his brother Duane Allman.

The film is based on Gregg Allman’s biography “My Cross To Bear,” written with Alan Light.

Miller is producing “Midnight Rider” with Jody Savin. Miller’s representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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  1. Avenger says:

    Obviously, there’s a completion bond issue. If Miller doesn’t crank out a film, he gets his pants sued off. 50% greed, 50% legal imperative…That said, I hope his pants, shirt, tie, and underwear get sued off. Savin too, that smarmy wench. He COULD have made the right choice. He had EVERY opportunity to keep his crew safe and, yet, he CHOSE to do something completely unsafe, unsanctioned, and, ultimately, fatal. He made the call, knowing the danger and not even blinking – because his $$$$ bought him “Cinematic Immunity.” May he, evermore, know poverty. Stop this film from being made and drive the steak deep into this vampire’s cold heart.

  2. SS says:

    To Steven Riggs
    You are an animal! A young beautiful talented girl died! Experienced union members from LA/NY/ATL were a part of this crew. Be very careful Mr. Riggs! You are the one that sounds inexperienced! Unfortunately that union card does not buy you integrity and compassion for your fellow man! Sarah was killed by people full of greed! You sir might fit right in. Why don’t you take that union card that you display above the life of a young girl and work on this film in LA! I’m sure they would love to finish that seen on another set of live tracks! I hate that people like you are in my union! Idiot!

  3. Brandon says:

    It is my belief that there was negligence on the director and producer which led to Sarah’s death. On top of that, recent information has come out that the producer made careless statments before her death about safety. OK, having spent three years of my own life getting my film made, I understand their urge to move forward. But they did it too soon, they should have waited a year, re-organized and let people heal from the accident, make it known how sorry they truely were, and then postponed everything. Instead, they decided to not give the tragedy time and they look (and most likely) are a bunch of selfish entertainment people. There’s some pretty terrible people in this business.

  4. Tom Davidson says:

    I’m not in the entertainment industry. I’m in the railroad industry. From what I can tell, the “adults” on this production decided they could use the railroad as their little plaything, and endangered the lives of their crew, the crew of the train, and themselves. Frankly, I don’t care whether the film gets made or not; but if it is, I would have a very hard time accepting the notion that these dolts should have anything to do with it. Hopefully, they’ll be watching it from their prison cells. I don’t know what the law will call it, but in my opinion, what they did was very close to murder.

  5. Jan Brewington says:

    There are no “unexpected trains”. Think about it. The railroad denied permission for filming on the tracks and the production went ahead anyway and took a chance, not only with the lives of the crew but also workers on the train.John Lewis Wright- “What did she die for?” Ridiculous. I doubt that, given a chance, this young woman would have laid down her life for a movie about Greg Allman.

  6. I’m torn. Its bad she died but I think it would haunt her that she left a job unfinished a.) and for b.) that everyone surviving would go off without completing the damn thing. Its like well then what did she even die for? o.o William Hurt knows this. I mean they danced for Kevin Costner in The Big Chill didn’t they? His part was cut out but the one he was supposed to play. Thats the spirit still OF the Allman Bros. and really of ALL Southern Rock as it now still SURVIVES! Did they let ten years pass and NOT reform Lynyrd Skynyrd? Heck no! So why do that here with the Allman Brothers? Brothers Dwayne and Barry Oakley are probably puff puff passing in the afterlife shaking their heads at how soft everyone has become. Reckless abandon hasn’t gone away. If anything now, post-war is when its supposed to be getting STRONGER again! Shoot, I mean Garth Brooks had Friends in Low Places and George Strait sang about the Heartland in Pure Country during then after the Gulf War didn’t they? Well alright then. Shoot! Like Joe Dirt got told in his movie: Home is where you make it. o.O So its best I’d wager to do like Secondhand Lions or my elders and make it a good one. ;) ^_^ Got that? <3

    • sammie kay says:

      She didnt die for a stupid Greg Allman movie. what an azzhole thing to say, and think.

      Thinking, don’t do much of it, you’re not good at it.

  7. Barb says:

    Bye Bye William Hurt. I have a friend that could be Greg Allman’s twin – they can hire him any time! He’s ready!

  8. Julie fife says:

    I applaud William Hurt’s decision to pull out of “Midnight Rider.” I’ve worked in this industry for thirty years and have seen and or had dangerous things being pushed on crew just to get the shot. Maybe having someone more important than those of us bow the line speak up these producers will gain a semblance of a conscience.

  9. fatstreet says:

    William Hurt today. Financing tomorrow. Miller’s freedom? Only a matter of time…

  10. Holden17C says:

    I’m sure Hurt is wishing he had refused to work the day the director illegally set up shop on the train tracks.

  11. Gregory Means says:

    Wow! Where to begin? First, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family of Sarah Jones. A tragedy that should not have happened. Where was the safety of the crew? Who failed to get that part of the job taken care of? In all of the preparations that stunt people have to go through b 4 a shot, isn’t the rest of the crew just as important? Or did the producers just forget about them? C’mon, u should have all of the answers by now? No more mistakes, no more loss of lives!!!!!

    • MM says:

      DEAR GREGORY Half of the crew doesn’t know the rules as they are local people with no training. They do not even have a clear comprehension of what their job titles mean and they don’t even know what their responsibilities are……They refuse training from people who have learned about safety, technique and all…

      • Gary says:

        To MM,
        For the most part this was a professional experienced crew many of whom were based out of LA and NY and Atlanta. Your comments are plain stupid. As a southerner myself with over 30 years as a production professional in this industry based in Los Angeles, I am dammed fed up with egotistical attitudes that think LA or New York or union membership has a lock on professionalism. I have worked productions in the south many times including Georgia. Film professionals in the south are not back woods hacks. They are every bit as experienced, skilled and professional as any in any of the major production centers with a far better work ethic and attitude than many.

  12. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    No surprise here as Mr Hurt could be called as a key witness if charges are filed as he was on set the moments of the tragedy. But these kind of cases are settled out of court and Producers almost always walk.

  13. CTSadler says:

    Good for him! Miller and Savin are talentless hacks anyway; the movie, like their others would have been unpresentable excrement.

  14. Lydia says:

    This movie should NEVER get made.

    • Susan says:

      It’s not that the movie should not be made, it might be an interesting movie for those that were/are fans of the Allman Bros. It is that THESE guys should not get to make the movie! They should not be allowed to have anything to do with it or even any movies. If they can prove negligence then they would be able to be charged with the loss of this young women’s life. For them to put their workers in a dangerous position, whether they knew a train would come or not, if they did not have permission to be there then they are the ones responsible for the loss, damage and chaos they created as as aftermath. For Sarah Jones and the affects this incident has had to have to all those involbed both physically and emotionally,.

  15. Steven Riggs says:

    That’s what you get when you shoot with unqualified inexperienced shooting crews doing whatever the hell they think they want to do with total disregard to safety. There going to get what they deserve. IATSE LOCAL 44 MEMBER AND PROUD OF IT !

    • Bill Holden says:

      I thought this WAS an IATSE production and that if you were an IATSE crew member – you were experienced and professional. Which local chapter was in charge of this production? I thought that was the purpose of IATSE – to keep crews safe. Someone (many, actually) failed – big time.

      • SmartAssPants says:

        I hope everyone is taking note of Steven Riggs’ comments & will remember his name when it’s time to hire a crew

    • Genevieve says:

      Yeah…Its amazing that the inexperienced William Hurt was on that track right along side Sarah Jones…This crew was lied to and put on harms way…it was through no fault of their own…

    • Vivianne Colwey says:

      I won’t lower myself to your standard. You sign your name with your IATSE local and yet you bad mouth them. A young woman named Sarah Jones died because the people who called the shots did not have permits, did not have permission to shoot, did not have medics, did not have PA’s down the tracks. Where were you and your infinite experience to guide the younger crew members? To stand up for them? Read your oath before you beak off next time. Vivianne Cowley IATSE Local 58

      • MM says:

        It’s true Vivianne, many times local crews are not experienced and don’t even know that their positions require them to ask about safety, talk about safety and take precautions regarding safety. On that day whom-ever might have asked questions about safety, permits, walkie talkie crew on tracks to warn others of trains was bullied or lied to.

    • Mike Harrell says:

      The fact that Mr. Riggs knows nothing about the particulars of the “Midnight Rider” tragedy hasn’t, apparently, prevented him from spouting off about the incident. As Gary said, most of the crew were experienced professionals, and several of the keys, including the 1st AD, director, and DP reside in California. Moreover, Sarah Jones, who trusted those professionals, didn’t “get what she deserved,” though I sincerely hope that those responsible for her death do. In the meantime, people like Mr. Riggs only add to the misery with their uninformed proclamations.

      • Avenger says:

        That was NOT the case here. These were seasoned pros. They were “stealing a shot.” Anyone who spoke out against the $$$$ would have been fired. They did the wrong thing because they were trained not to say “NO” to megalomaniacs like Miller. Now we ALL say no. Every time.

    • Gary says:

      Mr. Riggs,
      Most of “the shooting crew” as you describe were experienced production professionals. A number of the keys were Los Angeles and NY based union members including the DP who resides in L.A. As a southerner myself and a Los Angeles based production professional for over 20 years, I have worked on shows in many areas of the south including Georgia. I get dammed tired of the intimation that film people in the south are unprofessional back woods hacks. Most of the crews based in that region are every bit as skilled, dedicated and professional as any in Los Angeles. Based on what I have read, my own research and from speaking with some members of that crew, my opinion is that fault for this dastardly action lies squarely with the director / producer Randall Miller who has a history of verified unsafe actions on other productions. Clearly responsibility should be shared by the first AD, other producers and the DP who could have refused to put his camera crew in that dangerous situation. It is my hope that Randall Miller and his company based in Pasadena, Unclaimed Freight, will be shut out of mounting any production at all forevermore by the film and TV community.

    • Holden17C says:

      I bet if the train had plowed through and everyone had managed to escape with only minor injuries, Randall Miller would have shown his film at Sundance (or wherever) and told “hilarious” stories about the incident. He would probably think that made him some kind of awesome guerilla filmmaker.

      I have total respect for the true professionals who maintain safety first, safety last, and safety always.

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