One minute, veteran stuntman Steve de Castro was playing dead during the filming of the television series “Shooter” at a remote location north of Los Angeles. The next minute, de Castro was run over and dragged by a sport utility vehicle driven by actor Tom Sizemore.
It was no stunt. And it wasn’t the only thing not in the script that day. Sizemore wasn’t supposed to move the vehicle during the filming of the scene, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
The accident left de Castro with fractures in his wrist and forearm, bone and tissue damage and 100 stitches in his forehead, the records show. The stuntman was pinned by the SUV and had to be airlifted from the rural airport where “Shooter” was filming on July 6 of last year.
The files obtained by the media include interviews with several people on the set who said Sizemore attended a safety briefing and rehearsals, where he was instructed to get behind the wheel of the SUV in a shootout scene but not move it. Yet he inexplicably drove off, running over de Castro.
Although the SUV was not supposed to be moved, it was left running to allow the air conditioner to work during the filming at a high-desert airport in the Agua Dulce area of northern Los Angeles County.
Details about the accident and how Sizemore’s actions deviated from shooting plans were included in an investigation file compiled by the workplace safety agency Cal/OSHA. The agency issued no citations over the accident after determining it didn’t have jurisdiction because the stuntman was an independent contractor, not a studio employee.
Little information on the mishap or de Castro’s injuries was revealed after the incident or in subsequent months, in part because the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which has police jurisdiction in the Agua Dulce area, did not open an investigation, saying at the time that it would be handled by occupational safety inspectors. Also, publicity-conscious studios rarely comment when workers are hurt on productions.
Cal/OSHA, as the lead agency, did not close its inquiry until January, so details of its investigation were off-limits until they were released after a public records request by the AP.
In October, de Castro sued both Sizemore and Paramount Pictures, which is producing the USA Network series. His lawsuit contends Sizemore was intoxicated during filming, but there was no mention of the actor being impaired in the Cal/OSHA file and if de Castro raised that issue in an interview after the accident, it is not reflected in the investigator’s notes.
A Paramount investigative report provided to Cal/OSHA stated that Sizemore and co-star Omar Epps were supposed to run to the vehicle in the shootout scene, but not drive away. The scene was rehearsed several times before filming, and Sizemore and de Castro both attended a safety meeting the previous day, the records show.
“When, after rehearsals, the scenes were filmed for live action, Mr. Sizemore improvised at the end of the scene and drove away in his car,” the report states. “Mr. Sizemore’s decision to drive was not in the script, and not expected to occur.”
Sizemore’s agent declined comment. Paramount did not return an email seeking comment.
“Shooter,” a TV adaptation of the 2007 film about a sniper who becomes entangled in a global conspiracy, represented a potential comeback for Sizemore. The actor’s reputation in Hollywood has been ravaged by drug abuse and domestic violence arrests after a career that included prominent roles in “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down.”
A few days after the “Shooter” accident, Sizemore was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. He pleaded no contest to domestic battery charges and remains on three years of informal probation.
De Castro has worked as a stuntman for about 12 years and his credits include two “Captain America” films and other Marvel movies. On “Shooter,” he was playing “Russian Guard #3,” who is gunned down during a shootout at a small airport.
The accident was not included in the episode “Red on Red,” which aired earlier this year, nor does it show Sizemore driving away from the shootout. “Shooter” has been renewed for a second season, but Sizemore’s character did not survive the first round.
For de Castro, Sizemore’s departure from the series didn’t come soon enough.
Asked by an investigator how the accident could have been prevented, according to the records, De Castro replied, “If Mr. Sizemore was never on set.”
A woman who answered the phone in DeCastro’s hospital room declined comment, saying, “It’s better that you not call here again.”
A source told SPY that Shooter co-star Tom Sizemore was absolutly driving the vehicle that accidentally struck DeCastro, partially trapping him beneath it.
DeCastro has dozens of TV and film stunt credits on his résumé, ranging from Inception and Thor to Daredevil and Aquarius.
Shooter, from Paramount TV and Universal Cable Productions, follows Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe), a decorated ex-Marine sniper who is coaxed back into action by his former commanding officer (Omar Epps) after he learns about a plot to kill the President. Shantel VanSanten and Cynthia Addai-Robinson also star along with Sizemore.