As reported previously, director Randall Miller hopes to resume production of his Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider in June, but that seems unlikely as he will have to recast the lead role first. As confirmed in a statement by his representatives, William Hurt, who had been cast as an aged Gregg Allman, has stepped away from the project citing concern over safety on set and the lack of preparation for the on location shoot that lead to the death of Sarah Jones.
In an email, Hurt claims that he pointed out, “Sixty seconds is not enough time for us to get off this bridge,” in reference to the amount of warning the cast and crew would have that a train was coming on the shoot that proved deadly. The railway company CSX claims that it did not give studio Unclaimed Freight permission to film on the railway bridge. Furthermore, many crew who participated on the set claim that they were not given the time and resources to prepare for the shoot. In particular, hairstylist Joyce Gilliard, who was injured in the same incident, suffering a compound fracture in her arm, claims that the accident was preventable “if safety preventions and protocols were met and people who were in charge made conscious decisions to ensure we were safe.”
If Miller hopes to go forward with Midnight Rider, he will do so under intense scrutiny from unions while likely having to deal with an investigation from the Wayne County, GA sheriff’s office.