For the first time in 14 years, David Holmes, the stuntman who served as Daniel Radcliffe’s double in the Harry Potter movies, is sharing his story. In January 2009, David’s life underwent a sudden transformation when he broke his neck while rehearsing a stunt on the set of Deathly Hallows Part 1, resulting in paralysis.
While fans of the fantasy series might be familiar with the accident, they might not be aware of the years of treatment and surgeries he underwent, his enduring friendship with Daniel and fellow crew members, and the impact of his remarkably positive approach to life. This is what makes the new Sky documentary, “David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived,” so special.
The film, executive produced by Daniel, narrates David’s story from childhood when he was an energetic young boy from Essex introduced to the world of gymnastics. Early on, he knew he was destined to become a stuntman.
The documentary includes interviews with David, 41, and people close to him recounting their first-hand accounts of the accident – a ‘cathartic’ experience, he said.
Joined by director Dan Hartley for our conversation, David explained how it felt to discuss what happened to him in such detail after more than a decade.
‘It’s cathartic. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it will bring some stuff back. Like when I’ve seen some of the old hospital footage, it really brought me back to being back on the ward,’ he shared.
‘It takes a village to survive this, and that starts with my support in the NHS – the doctor that stood over me for 14 hours in surgery, the nurses that held my hand through morphine withdrawals, all of the stunt community that rallied behind me, and my Potter family itself that were more than supportive, that were just wishing me to get through as best I could get through.’
Following David’s accident, he asked his close friend and fellow stuntman Marc Mailley to take his place in the final instalments of Harry Potter, insisting that he was the only person he had in mind for the role.
‘It was heartbreaking for me that I couldn’t go back to work and see Harry to the end,’ David said. ‘But I also was able to ask my best friend Marc to dye his hair and look after Dan. How brave is that for my best mate to see my accident happen and then actually perform the stunt on camera in the film that led to my accident? But I couldn’t have trusted that responsibility to anyone else. My mates are very brave people.’