Movie actor, 90, is suing production company for £50,000 after injury

Veteran movie actor, 90, who injured his shoulder when ‘defective’ chair collapsed under him on the set of Marvel superhero blockbuster Black Widow is suing production company £50,000

  • The actor’s lengthy career began in the 1948 version of Oliver Twist

A cult horror movie actor who says his career was ruined when a chair collapsed under him on the set of a Marvel superhero blockbuster is suing for £50,000.

90-year-old William Forbes-Hamilton – who played a giant mutated hypnotised chimpanzee terrorising London in the 1961 horror flick ‘Konga’ – was injured when a ‘defective’ chair gave way under him whilst he was working on Disney’s 2021 ‘Black Widow’ starring Scarlett Johansson.

The veteran screen star says he badly injured his right shoulder in the August 2019 accident, which occurred whilst shooting scenes for the sci-fi action thriller in east London.

He also suffered head and leg injuries alongside psychological damage, he claims.

Mr Forbes-Hamilton is claiming a £50,000 payout over his incident from Disney satellite firm Romanoff Productions UK Ltd.  

Mr Forbes-Hamilton lengthy career began when he appeared in the 1948 version of Oliver Twist at the age of just 15

Scarlett Johansson (pictured) in a scene from the film Black Widow, where Mr Forbes-Hamilton suffered the injury

While liability for his injury has been admitted by the company, a separate trial is set to assess the impact of the accident on the elderly actor. 

Mr Forbes-Hamilton lengthy career began when he appeared in the 1948 version of Oliver Twist at the age of just 15.

His six-foot frame helped him land roles as the villain in a number of horror films, including ‘Konga,’ ‘Doctor Blood’s Coffin’ and ‘The Skull’ alongside Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Hollywood’s injury list 

1. Halle Berry- Bruised

Broke two of her rib bones when filming Bruised, on the first day of filming ‘The fighter in me stood up and said, ‘You just have to keep going, take some Advil and tough your way through it,’ she said.

2. Harrison Ford – Star Wars: Force Awakens

The actor’s leg was crushed by a hydraulic door on the set of the sci-fi blockbuster in 2014. A British firm owned by Disney was been fined £1.6million for health and safety breaches.

3. Daniel Craig – Spectre

The James Bond actor had to undergo surgery on his knee after a scene with Dave Batuista in Sam Mendes’ Spectre, where Mr Craig was thrown by Mr Batuista.

4. George Clooney

George Clooney suffered a spinal injury during the production of Syrianna, resulting in him contemplating suicide due to the pain.

5. Leonardo Di Caprio – Django Unchained

The Titanic star sliced his hand open while slamming it down on a table, the scene was left in, however Mr Di Caprio needed treatment.

6. Brad Pitt –  Troy

Ironically, whilst playing the character of Achilles in the 2004 hit, Troy, Brad Pitt ruptured his Achilles tendon during a stunt move.

7. Kate Winslett – Titanic

During the filming of Titanic, Ms Winslett nearly drowned after a heavy coat she was wearing caught on a gate, leaving her briefly submerged, she told the LA Times: ‘I had to sort of shimmy out of the coat to get free,’ she recalls. 

‘I had no breath left. I thought I’d burst. And [James Cameron] just said, ‘OK, let’s go again.’ 

In Konga he played the cult role of a baby chimp who grows into a giant killer beast after being fed an experimental growth serum by a mad scientist who has brought him back to London from Africa.

Mr Forbes-Hamilton, who sometimes worked under the name Paul Stockman, also acted as a body double for Bond legend Sean Connery and more recently appeared in Mike Leigh’s 2014 biopic ‘Mr Turner.’

In papers lodged with Central London County Curt, lawyers for the actor say he was aged 87 and still fit when he was injured at the Printworks studio in Rotherhithe, where a section of Marvel’s Black Widow movie was being filmed.

‘At approximately 1pm on or about 6 August 2019, the claimant was on set at the accident locus and was told to sit in a particular chair whilst filming,’ the documents disclose.

‘Unbeknownst to the claimant, the back leg of the chair was detective, so as he sat down the chair collapsed.

‘This caused him to fall backwards onto the floor and onto his right side.. Accordingly, the claimant sustained injures.’

According to claim documents, the production company, which was set up to make the Marvel movie, has made an ‘open admission of liability’ in relation to the accident.

In a preliminary hearing at the court, his barrister, Richard Wheeler, said the nonagenarian tore a shoulder tendon when he fell from the collapsing chair and has not worked in films since, despite acting having been a major part of his life.

‘There’s been a degree of psychological injury by way of an adjustment disorder,’ he explained, adding: ‘he hasn’t yet gone back to work as a part-time actor’.

‘He was of advanced years but was working a couple of days a week and was pretty fit before the accident.’

The fall left a legacy of severe pain and Mr Forbes-Hamilton also needed surgery to repair his shoulder, he said.

Mr Forbes-Hamilton’s reached court when lawyers on both sides hammered out the shape of the evidence for the future trial, although he didn’t attend the hearing.

Black Widow was produced as part of the Avenger franchise two years ago and distributed by Walt Disney, starring Scarlett Johansson as super-spy Natasha Romanoff.

Filming took place from May to October 2019 in Norway, Budapest, Morocco, England, and in the USA.

Black Widow premiered at events around the world on June 29, 2021, and was released in the United States on July 9, simultaneously in cinemas and through Disney+ with Premier Access.

Black Widow broke several pandemic box office records and grossed over $379 million worldwide.

In July 2021, Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney over the simultaneous cinema and streaming release, which was settled two months later.

Mr Forbes-Hamilton, who was also known as Paul Stockman, (pictured left) with Michael Gough in the film ‘Konga’, 1961

In its defence, Romanoff Productions UK Ltd says it admits breach of duty ‘and that the claimant suffered some injury arising out of the claimants accident on 6 August 2019.’

However it goes on to add: ‘The defendant avers that such injury as the claimant may prove was caused or materially contributed to by his own negligence.’

The defence goes on to claim the actor, ‘failed to proceed with appropriate caution, failed to request assistance (and) failed to take evasive action’.

The production company also states that it intends to challenge the medical evidence put forward by the actor relating to the impact of the fall.

Mr Forbes-Hamilton’s claim was initially filed against Walt Disney, but is proceeding against Romanoff, the company set up to make the movie.

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