Inside Daniel Radcliffe's Friendship With David Holmes, The HP Stunt Double Paralyzed On Set

The heartwarming bond between actor Daniel Radcliffe and his "Harry Potter" stunt double, David Holmes, has come to light through a new documentary, "David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived." This lasting friendship, rooted in their shared experiences from the first film in the series, endured even through the most tragic of circumstances. Unfortunately, in 2009 during the pre-production of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," Holmes suffered a paralyzing accident, breaking his neck while rehearsing a stunt.

In an interview with The Guardian, Holmes recalled realizing immediately that he had broken his neck on set. The stunt team had added more weight to a pulley system to make the stunt — Harry Potter flying through the air — more realistic. But the weight proved to be too much and slammed Holmes into the wall with overwhelming force. Throughout his challenging journey of recovery, Holmes found support from friends and family, including Radcliffe.

The "Harry Potter" star shared his initial aspirations to direct the documentary about Holmes' life. "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 some reason, I thought I might know how to direct a documentary. I absolutely didn't." Instead, Dan Hartley, a former member of the "Harry Potter" crew, assumed the role of director, while Radcliffe took on the executive producer role to help tell the remarkable story of his dear friend.

Daniel and David grew up on set together

Daniel Radcliffe and David Holmes' friendship blossomed on the set of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in 2001. Aged 17 at the series' start, Holmes and the then 11-year-old Radcliffe formed a brotherly connection. Holmes was not only Radcliffe's stunt double, but also his gymnastics coach. "I was like Dan's P.E. teacher when he was a kid," Holmes recounted to Entertainment Weekly. "He would come into the stunt stores, and we would play and jump off things ... all the stuff that would make all the insurance companies and the execs have a heart attack."

Radcliffe shared similar sentiments, explaining that he was even closer to Holmes than he was to his famous co-stars, including Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. "I was so close to the crew, as much as I was close to the cast," Radcliffe explained to Entertainment Weekly. " ... But I was there all day, every day with the crew. So, those became some of the most constant people in my life, of which Dave was absolutely one."

The aftermath of Holmes's accident was deeply felt by the entire cast and crew. "Within a month we were meeting on the set and adjusting to this new norm, and it was horrific," former crew member and documentary director Dan Hartley told The Guardian. "I'd known Dave for almost 10 years and we were a very tight crew, and now he wasn't there ... We'd lost one."

Daniel supported David after his accident

Although David Holmes' life-altering spinal injury might seem like an opportunity for a major payout, the former stuntman did not feel that a singular person was at fault for his paralysis. "I was like, 'What is people getting sacked really going to change? You're paralyzed. You're not going to get fixed,'" Holmes said in "The Boy Who Lived" (per Decider). He went on to explain that the Warner Bros. team did provide financial assistance, providing some aid amid his mounting medical bills and mortgage worries.

In a show of unwavering support, Daniel Radcliffe also stepped in to support Holmes during this difficult time. In 2010, it was reported that Radcliffe hosted a charity dinner in London to fund Holmes' ongoing care (per Look To the Stars). The event featured signed boxing gloves from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, which raised $6,000 to cover Holmes' medical bills and other ongoing patient costs.

In 2020, Radcliffe and Holmes teamed up to launch "Cunning Stunts," a podcast featuring interviews with renowned stunt performers discussing the process behind demanding action scenes. The duo also advocated for the recognition of stunt performers at the Academy Awards in Hollywood. "If you can't see the art of a brilliant stunt scene, you're just not looking hard enough," Radcliffe told Deadline. " ... Everyone has put their bodies on the line to make the things we love. It seems crazy not to acknowledge that."