Disney subsidiary pleads guilty over Harrison Ford's Star Wars injury

NEW YORK • Two years after actor Harrison Ford was badly injured on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by a hydraulic door on the Millennium Falcon starship, a Disney subsidiary has accepted responsibility for workplace safety breaches at Pinewood Studios, near London.

On Tuesday, the subsidiary Foodles Productions - a name chosen to hide the filming from Star Wars fanatics - pleaded guilty to two criminal charges in a British court.

"This was a foreseeable incident," Britain's Health and Safety Executive office, the workplace safety regulator, said in a statement announcing the pleas.

On Tuesday, Foodles said it had cooperated with the investigation, adding: "The safety of our cast and crew was always a top priority throughout the production."

In June 2014, Ford became trapped when a remotely operated metal-framed door on the Millennium Falcon, the legendary starship belonging to his character Han Solo, began to shut rapidly, hitting him with a force "comparable to the weight of a small car", the workplace regulator said.

The actor suffered a dislocated ankle and two broken bones in his left leg and was airlifted to a hospital for treatment. Production on the film, the seventh instalment in the space saga, was halted for two weeks.

Ford, 74, who discussed the accident on a British talk show, The Jonathan Ross Show, in December, joked that in the old days, such a door would have been operated by a pulley.

"But now we have lots of money and technology and so they built a great hydraulic door which closed at light speed," he added, using a vulgarity. "Somebody said, 'I wonder what this is,'" he said, mimicking the push of a button.

He said he did not know who pressed the button.

Prosecutors portrayed the accident as potentially deadly, an outcome averted only because an emergency stop was engaged.

The penalty, most likely a fine, will be set on Aug 22.

Mr Angus Withington, a lawyer representing the company, said he plans to challenge the prosecution's portrayal of how much danger was involved.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Disney subsidiary pleads guilty over Harrison Ford's Star Wars injury'. Print Edition | Subscribe