The mother of the stuntman who died filming ‘The Walking Dead’ said Hollywood covers up unsafe conditions, and compared it to Harvey Weinstein
Susan Bernecker says accusations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein, and the alleged cover-up of his behaviour, reminded her of what happens in the stunt industry
By Carrie Wittmer
In July, stuntman John Bernecker suffered serious injuries in a fall on “The Walking Dead” set in Georgia. Bernecker fell more than 20 feet onto a concrete floor, and died as a result of the injuries.
Now his mother is speaking out about unsafe conditions in the stunt industry — and she’s accusing Hollywood of covering them up.
Susan Bernecker told entertainment website Deadline that when the bombshell reports came out detailing Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct in the film industry, including the lengths he reportedly went to to cover up his behaviour, she was reminded of issues in the stunt industry.
“If you take out the word ‘sex’ and put in ‘safety,’ it’s the same thing,” Bernecker said. “This is parallel in my mind. There are the same pressures and the same risks. People are afraid to speak out because they’re afraid they’ll never work again or that they’ll be looked down upon.”
“The Walking Dead” production company, Stalwart Films, was fined US$12,675 for “failing to protect employees from fall hazards.” But Bernecker doesn’t believe that fines are enough.
“This should not have happened,” Bernecker told Deadline. “This was not the kind of stunt you should be killed on. He did this same stunt [a fall from a balcony] two months earlier in South Carolina. So I’m going to try to change things. My niece is a stuntwoman, and I feel a duty to find out what happened, and to do what John would have done, to make it safer for everybody. Because the industry isn’t doing it. Somebody’s got to get the ball rolling, so I guess I was picked.”
AMC, which airs “The Walking Dead,” was not immediately available for comment.