Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter Stunt Double Paralyzed For Life After On-Set Accident

Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter Stunt Double Paralyzed For Life After On-Set Accident Warner Bros. | Instagram/DavidHolmes83

Daniel Holmes was an accomplished gymnast turned movie stuntman at the height of his career. He even bagged the dream role, working as Daniel Radcliffe‘s stunt double in the “Harry Potter” film franchise. However, things went badly wrong in 2009 while filming “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” when a broom accident left David Holmes paralyzed for life.

Holmes was in a harness and rehearsing a flying scene at the time of the incident. A planned explosion that was part of a stunt for one scene misfired, sending him slamming into the ground after hitting a wall. The freak accident left Holmes with a spinal injury that paralyzed him from the chest down.

Holmes didn’t lose consciousness when he landed. Instead, a source tells The Mirror that he told his fellow crew members that he couldn’t feel his legs.

“The stunt double was badly hurt. He was rehearsing a flying scene that involved an explosion and it seems to have gone badly wrong. The guy was rigged up to a harness for the scene and was flying through the air,” the source said.

“It is thought he may have been caught by the explosion and hit the ground very hard. He told crew members who went to help him he couldn’t feel anything from the waist down. It has come as a terrible shock.”

That was more than a decade ago, and while David Holmes has largely adapted to that life-changing day on the “Harry Potter” set, he still vividly recalls the accident.


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“I hit the wall and then landed on the crash mat underneath. My stunt coordinator grabbed my hand and said, ‘Squeeze my fingers.’ I could move my arm to grab his hand but I couldn’t squeeze his fingers,'” he recalled.

“I looked into his eyes and that’s when I realized what happened was major. I remember slipping in and out of consciousness because of the pain levels. I’d broken a bone before, so recognizing that weird feeling across my whole body from my fingertips right down to my toes, I knew I had really done some damage.”

He underwent surgery at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London immediately after, but it wasn’t good news. He was told that he was paralyzed from the chest down and would only have limited movement in his arms and hands. He had to stay in the hospital for six months and had to learn how to sit up again.

In the years since, David Holmes has maintained a strong connection with Daniel Radcliffe and Draco Malfoy actor Tom Felton. Radcliffe even hosted a celebrity charity auction to cover Holmes’ hefty medical bills.

“I’ve got a relationship that goes back many, many years with Dave,” Radcliffe said, as per The Mirror. “And I would hate for people to just see me and Dave and go, ‘Oh, there’s Daniel Radcliffe with a person in a wheelchair’ – because I would never, even for a moment, want them to assume that Dave was anything except for an incredibly important person in my life.”

David Holmes is truly an inspiration.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill