Daniel Radcliffe stunt double: who is David Holmes, how was he paralysed, when is The Boy Who Lived on Sky?
The Boy Who Lived is an HBO documentary about Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter stunt double David Holmes
and live on Freeview channel 276
The unsung star of the franchise and several other major films saw his career come to a premature end when he suffered a devastating accident whilst rehearsing a stunt that left him paralysed.
Though Holmes initially hoped he would be able to return to work after taking time out to recover, it became clear that he would not be able to continue to do the job he loved.
Despite not working together on a film set following the accident, Holmes and Radcliffe remained friends and have collaborated on other projects in the years since.
Most recently they worked together on the upcoming documentary David Holmes: The Boy Who lived, which will air in the UK next month.
Who is David Holmes?
Holmes, 42, is a former stuntman and gymnast from Essex who was cast as Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in 2000 for the first Harry Potter film - at the time Radcliffe was just 11 years old whilst Holmes was 19.
Despite the age gap, the pair formed a strong friendship in the decade that they worked together on the highest grossing British film franchise of all time - the eight films would go on to gross more than $9 billion in total.
Holmes worked as a stunt double for Radcliffe on all eight Harry Potter films as well as on another Danielle Radcliffe film, My Boy Jack. He also featured in football hooligan drama Green Street, fantasy films The Golden Compass, Inkheart, and Prince of Persia, and adventure movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Holmes’ final screen credit is as an additional stunt performer on the Johnny Depp action comedy Mortdecai.
How was David Holmes paralysed?
It was whilst practising a stunt during test filming on the set of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2009 that Holmes suffered the accident that would bring his stunt career to an end.
He was practicing a 'jerk back' stunt, where he was supposed to be thrown into the air by an explosion - Holmes was pulled backwards into a wall at speed by a wire that he was attached to. The performer broke his neck in the accident and was left permanently paralysed from the chest down, aged 25, and has used a wheelchair ever since.
Holmes retired from stunt work due to his injury, and later took up car racing, using a modified vehicle that he could operate.
What is David Holmes doing now?
Holmes launched a podcast, Cunning Stunts, in 2020 and released 41 episodes, the latest of which was in December 2022. On the podcast Holmes speaks to other stunt performers about their work and raises awareness about the risks involved in the profession. Radcliffe in a guest host on many of the episodes.
The upcoming HBO documentary, David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived, tells his story, and explores Holmes’ resilience following his life changing injury. The film will also show how the Harry Potter cast and stunt actors rallied to support him.
Holmes and Radcliffe are both executive producers on the documentary - it is their first professional collaboration since Holmes launched the Cunning Stunts podcast.
When is the UK release date of David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived?
The Boy Who Lived will air in the US on HBO on Wednesday 15 November, before coming to the UK via Sky.
The documentary will air on Sky Documentaries on Saturday 18 November and will also be available to stream on NOW.