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Fast & Furious 9 Production Halted Following On-Set Injury

The next Fast & Furious movie suddenly slammed on the breaks earlier this month. 

On Monday, July 22, Universal Pictures halted production on Fast & Furious 9 following an on-set incident that left a stuntman seriously injured. 

The Hollywood Reporter detailed at the time that the accident took place at Warner Bros.' Leavesden Studios in the U.K., where the stuntman fell and sustained a head injury. Police and paramedics arrived at the scene, and the man was transported to the Royal London Hospital, where he was later placed into a medically induced coma. 

A Universal spokesperson released a statement to THR addressing the situation: "We had an injury on the set of Fast 9 today in Leavesden with one of our stuntmen. We have halted production for the day to focus on this situation."

An East of England Ambulance Service representative further explained the terrifying accident in a statement that reads, "An ambulance, three ambulance officer vehicles and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance were called to Leavesden Studios shortly before midday today (July 22), following reports of a man injured in a fall. One patient with a serious head injury was transported to the Royal London Hospital by air ambulance."

When reports of the accident first surfaced, the identity of the stuntman was not released. In the time since, however, it's been revealed that the man was Joe Watts, the stunt double to Vin Diesel, who plays Dominic Toretto. Fast & Furious 9 is the first film in which Watts has doubled for Diesel, but his past credits include a ton of blockbuster movies — including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Transformers: The Last Knight, and more. 

Sources have noted that Diesel was present when Watts fell a reported 30 feet onto his head. Distraught over the incident, Diesel was reportedly "choking back tears," and "looked ashen" and "totally in shock." 

Watts' fiancée, Tilly Powell, posted on social media shortly after the accident took place, writing that her heart was "shattered" (via PopCulture.com). 

"I love him so much. He has all his friends and family by his side to get him through this," Powell wrote in a now-deleted post on Facebook, further noting that on July 22, he was "stable and being monitored closely throughout the night."

A stuntwoman herself with credits in Wonder Woman, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Justice League, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Powell was said to be "absolutely devastated" about Watts' accident, though she's "known the risks that were always involved." A source told Mail Online, "She grew up with a father who was a stuntman and has followed the same career. She knew that they always faced risks on any dangerous stunt." Powell was reportedly working on The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, the follow-up to The Hitman's Bodyguard in which Watts performed as a stuntman, when she learned that Watts had sustained a serious head injury. 

The day after the incident occurred (July 23), production on Fast & Furious 9 resumed. According to Variety, the Health and Safety Executive — a U.K. government organization the regulates and enforces workplace safety and welfare, similar to the United States' Occupational Safety and Health Administration — is currently investigating the circumstances leading up to Watts' accident. Employees of the HSE appeared at the scene on July 22, and were conducting the probe as of July 23. It's unclear when the full investigation of the incident will be complete. 

Unfortunately, this is far from the first tragedy to take place at Leavesden. Earlier in July, a fire broke out at the studio complex and raged for 15 hours before firefighters could extinguish it. The fire damaged the set of HBO's Avenue 5, but thankfully did not cause any injuries. In June, an unidentified man attacked a crew member working on the Anne Hathaway-led film The Witches. Apparently, the two men, believed to have known each other, were fighting when the assailant stabbed the victim in the neck. A reported 100 other crew members were on set and witnessed the stabbing, though it's still unclear whether any of the film's stars (including Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Chris Rock) were present at the time of the attack. 

If all goes well, Fast & Furious 9 will face no further troubles, as the film has already hit some turbulence while getting off the ground. In October of 2017, the flick was delayed a full year. It then became the subject of a social media spat between Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Luke Hobbs in the Fast franchise) and Tyrese Gibson (who plays Roman), who pointed to Johnson's Hobbs & Shaw movie as the reason that Fast & Furious 9 was pushed back. 

We're wishing Watts a speedy recovery.

Fast & Furious 9 is due out in theaters on May 22, 2020.