Daniel Radcliffe making documentary about paralysed Harry Potter stunt double

David Holmes worked as Radcliffe’s stunt double for nearly all of the franchise films before breaking his neck in an on-set accident

Inga Parkel
Wednesday 25 October 2023 07:03 BST
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Daniel Radcliffe has teamed up with his Harry Potter stunt double David Holmes – who became paralysed after an on-set accident – for a forthcoming HBO documentary.

For years, Holmes worked closely alongside Radcliffe for all but the final two of the franchise’s films. The stuntman broke his neck while performing a stunt on the set of 2010’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the penultimate adaptation of JK Rowling’s best-selling novels.

The incident left Holmes paralysed from the chest down.

Titled David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived, the “film is a coming-of-age story of stuntman David Holmes, a prodigious teenage gymnast from Essex, England, who is selected to play Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in the first Harry Potter film, when Daniel is just 11,” states an official logline.

“Over the next 10 years, the two form an inextricable bond, but on the penultimate film a tragic accident on set leaves David paralysed with a debilitating spinal injury, turning his world upside down. As Daniel and his closest stunt colleagues rally to support David and his family in their moment of need, it is David’s extraordinary spirit of resilience that becomes their greatest source of strength and inspiration.”

Featuring “candid personal footage shot over the last decade, behind-the-scenes material from Holmes’ stunt work, scenes of his current life and intimate interviews with David, Radcliffe, friends, family, and former crew,” HBO adds, “the film also reflects universal themes of living with adversity, growing up, forging identities in an uncertain world, and the bonds that bind us together and lift us up.”

Directed by British filmmaker Dan Hartley, the project comes a few years after Radcliffe, 34, and 42-year-old Holmes launched the 2020 Cunning Stunts podcast together.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1’
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1’ (Warner Bros)

The audio series’s mission was to highlight the “amazing work [stunt performers and coordinators] do whilst on set in the name of entertainment”.

“I think there’s a myth around stuntmen that they are just superhuman in some way,” Radcliffe said at the time.

“When the public see something really painful or horrible, they think it was a visual effect or that there’s some clever, safe way of doing it. Often that’s not the case,” he added.

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“There’s no way of faking, for example, falling down stairs. When you get hit by a car, you’re still getting hit by a car, even if it’s going slower than it would. They find the safest way of doing it, but it can still hurt.”

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived premieres on HBO on Wednesday 15 November at 9pm EST, before being made available to stream on Max in the US. UK viewers can stream it on Sky Documentaries and NOW from 18 November.

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