'He's Extraordinary': Daniel Radcliffe Honours His Paralysed Harry Potter Stunt Double

David Holmes served as Daniel's stunt double for every single Potter film — until he was paralysed on set.
Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe
via Associated Press

Daniel Radcliffe is celebrating the man who made him fly.

The Harry Potter star, who became famous at 12 years old for portraying the fictional character, produced a new documentary about his stunt double from the films. David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived, chronicles the titular 42-year-old’s journey after being paralysed on set.

“I used to fly,” he says in the film, according to People. “Not so much anymore.”

Holmes is eight years older than Radcliffe but served as his stunt double for all eight “Potter” films. He suffered an on-set spinal injury in 2009, however, breaking his neck after being propelled backward into a wall while test filming for the final two instalments.

The Deathly Hallows incident left Holmes paralysed from the waist down.

“I wanted to make something about Dave for years because he’s extraordinary and I wanted to share that with the world,” Radcliffe told People for a story published Tuesday. “I was trying to do it myself. We shot some stuff and I didn’t really know what I was doing.”

“I thought I might know how to direct a documentary,” he added. “I absolutely didn’t.”

Radcliffe ultimately hired Potter video operator Dan Hartley to direct the film.

The documentary opens with Holmes as Harry Potter performing in mid-air on a broomstick, showing just how essential he was to bringing J.K. Rowling’s literary vision to the screen.

Radcliffe was initially intent on making a documentary about stunt men and their invaluable work in general, but it shifted to a focused look at Holmes before and after his accident. For Radcliffe, it also served as a trip down memory lane.

“Dave, still, is one of the most important people in my life,” he told the BBC this week.

”He was somebody that was so incredibly fun to hang with when I was young,” Radcliffe added. “But then as I grew up he became a real guide to me, and kind of mentor and someone who really looked out for me, and that really has just continued as we’ve grown.”

Radcliffe forged ahead as a daring journeyman actor to shed his Potter fame with more risqué work.

Holmes became an ambassador for the RNOH Charity. He’s also a producer, including for the podcast Cunning Stunts, which featured other stunt professionals discussing the art.

Holmes told People he’s “not ready to watch” the documentary yet, but knows it was made “with love and sensitivity.”

“I have a team of Avengers that are wheelchair users or people from all different aspects of the disability spectrum that have seen this thing and said, ’No, it’s really empowering and it’s really positive and you’re going to do a good thing for the world,’” he said.

“Those opinions are the ones that matter to me,” Holmes concluded.

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived is now available on HBO Max in the US and NOW in the UK.

Before You Go