On Monday, August 14, stuntwoman Joi “SJ” Harris, 40, passed away while filming a motorcycle scene for Fox’s film “Deadpool 2” starring Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin in Vancouver. TMZ reported the “Deadpool 2” stunt was Harris’ first movie gig. The accident is currently under investigation by the British Columbian Law Enforcement, the Coroner’s Service and WorkSafeBC.
Witnesses say the stunt had been rehearsed successfully numerous times. However, that morning Harris hit a curb and lost control of the motorcycle. As a result, she crashed into a ground floor window of an office building across the street. She was pronounced dead at the scene and production on the film has ceased for an undetermined time.
“We are deeply saddened by the accident that occurred on the set of Deadpool 2 this morning,” said a company spokesperson for 20th Century Fox in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of our crew member during this difficult time.”
It is believed that Harris was a stunt double for actress Zazie Beetz’s character, Domino. During that particular scene, the character does not wear a helmet, therefore, Harris was not wearing a helmet while filming.
Reynolds along with other co-stars express their condolences for the young stunt woman.
“Today, we tragically lost a member of our crew while filming Deadpool,” wrote Reynolds on social media. “We’re heartbroken, shocked, devastated… but recognize nothing can come close to the grief and inexplicable pain her family and loved ones must feel in this moment. My heart pours out to them — along with each and every person she touched in this world.”
Director David Leitch has stated, “No words can express how I and the rest of the ‘Deadpool 2’ crew feel about this tragedy. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and loved ones in this difficult time.”
Local stuntwoman, founder and CEO of Diamonds In The Raw Foundation, La Faye Baker spoke about the unfortunate tragedy, on being a Black stuntwoman and on the overdue recognition of stunt professionals in the entertainment industry.
“As an African American stuntwoman, I am saddened at the loss of Joi “SJ” Harris, especially an African American performer,” said Baker.
“Joi was from the east coast and our paths never crossed. I got so emotional and had to pull over to the road side when I received the news. However, from what I read, she was an experienced road racer and rising to the top.”
Baker continued, “It is just so unfortunate that someone who has a specialty craft could lose their life at an early phase of their career. This tragic injury hits close to home as we mourned the loss of another colleague last month on [AMC’s] ‘The Walking Dead’. I am praying for her family as well all my stunt colleagues.”
“It’s time that the Oscar’s start recognizing the behind-the-scenes stunt professionals, who place their lives on the line for some of the top action movies in Hollywood, especially stuntwomen.
“The stature from the Academy is overdue for STUNT PROFESSIONALS.”
Friends, family, and loved-ones are mourning the life of Harris. She will be remembered as the first African American female road racer who loved taking on a challenge.
Memorial details have not been released.
Brian W. Carter contributed to this article.