William Hurt's Left 'Midnight Rider' In The Wake Of The Sarah Jones Tragedy
Back in February 27 year old Sarah Jones, a crew member working on Midnight Rider was struck and killed by an oncoming train during shooting for the film. Her death sparked industry-wide discussion on safety standards, as well as inspiring shows of support in on-set #SlatesForSarah and at the Oscars. Now William Hurt, who was there at the time of the initial incident, has pulled out of Midnight Rider — a decision it would be hard to separate from the tragedy surrounding Jones' death.
Midnight Rider is a biopic of troubled musician Greg Allman, with Hurt (formerly) playing the leading role. Since Jones' death the production has been under understandable pressure, including from a group encouraging a boycott of the film by actors and crew.
Neither Hurt or his people have mentioned any connection of the decision to that pressure, but in a situation like this it would be understandable for Hurt to be rattled after everything he and the crew witnessed that night on the train bridge, and by how the events of that night reflect the inner workings of the production. Hurt and the rest of the crew were warned that evening that in the event of the arrival of a train they'd only have 60 seconds to clear the trestle. As Hurt commented in an email published in The LA Times, "I said, 'Sixty seconds is not enough time to get us off this bridge.' There was a communal pause. No one backed me up. Then, we ..... Just went ahead. I took off my shoes, got on the heavy, metal hospital bed and began preparing. 'We didn't have sixty seconds. We had less than thirty."
Our condolences continue to go out to Sarah Jones' family and friends, and to all the cast and crewmembers who'll carry that day around with them forever.