'Spider-Man' Actor Reflects On His Injury NPR's Michele Norris talks with Chris Tierney, the actor and dancer whose 30-foot fall last month during Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark stunned and shocked preview audiences. Tierney's safety harness failed and he broke his skull, some ribs, and cracked three vertebrae. He is the fourth actor to be injured in the multimillion-dollar production.

'Spider-Man' Actor Reflects On His Injury

'Spider-Man' Actor Reflects On His Injury

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NPR's Michele Norris talks with Chris Tierney, the actor and dancer whose 30-foot fall last month during Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark stunned and shocked preview audiences. Tierney's safety harness failed and he broke his skull, some ribs, and cracked three vertebrae. He is the fourth actor to be injured in the multimillion-dollar production.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Actor and dancer Christopher Tierney loves to make audiences scream. But last month, his performance on Broadway turned from thrilling to terrifying. Tierney flies onstage as Spider Man in the production "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." On December 20th, something went terribly wrong. He fell 30 feet. Tierney is the fourth performer to be hurt on the $65 million production and his accident has prompted criticism about safety and a lot of finger pointing.

Tierney leaves the rehab hospital today and he's made time to join us to talk about his accident. Welcome to the program.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER TIERNEY (Actor, Dancer): Hello.

NORRIS: Could you describe for us the injuries that you sustained in a 30-foot fall?

Mr. TIERNEY: Yeah. I broke four ribs, three of my vertebras. I fractured my skull. I fractured my right scapula and a radial fracture on my elbow.

NORRIS: What do you remember about the accident? What do you remember about that night?

Mr. TIERNEY: I remember pretty much everything. I do this pretend jump off the bridge, but I'm stopped by the tether. But this night it wasn't tethered to the back of the stage. So when I went for it, I actually did jump off the bridge. I remember while I'm falling in that split second to make a turn fast just so I wouldn't fall on my head. And I fell on my back.

NORRIS: Did the cable snap or were you not properly hooked up?

Mr. TIERNEY: The cable that I'm attached with has 9,000 pounds of tension pressure. So the cable definitely didn't snap. So, I was not tethered to the back of the stage.

NORRIS: What happened there?

Mr. TIERNEY: Human error. They didn't attach me well enough.

NORRIS: Now, we should explain something, Christopher. Another actor actually plays Spider Man, sings the role onstage, but you're the Spider Man who flies through the air.

Mr. TIERNEY: Yeah. I'm the suited Spider Man.

NORRIS: So, you know, in addition to this jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, what other kinds of acrobatics are you performing?

Mr. TIERNEY: I'm flying through the theater at around 40 miles an hour. I have a big fight with the Green Goblin right above the orchestra seats and all throughout the theater. And it's very, very high flying adventure stuff. It's very fun.

NORRIS: You sound wistful when you describe this.

Mr. TIERNEY: Oh, it's so much fun. First of all, it's a dream come true. The four-year-old version of myself's dream come true.

NORRIS: We're talking to Christopher Tierney. He was injured in the Broadway production "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

Christopher, you've avoided blaming any one person. You've been very gracious about this, avoiding any kind of finger pointing, but you're not, as we said, the first person to be injured. Four performers have been hurt in this production.

Mr. TIERNEY: Yeah.

NORRIS: What's going on here? Why so many injuries?

Mr. TIERNEY: There's been a lot of injuries, but it is a very, very athletic show. It's funny, when you hear about all these injuries that happen, I've worked with dance companies all over the world where people tear their ACLs in performances. My ex-girlfriend had five concussions with a dance company, legs coming out of hip sockets - major, major injuries that happen all the time. But because we are so closely followed and scrutinized with "Spider-Man," you hear about every detail, about everything.

I feel completely safe on the show with the crew. They are watching every angle of everything. We never would've even thought to look at the tether in the back. It was just assumed that it was always there.

NORRIS: The union, the Actors' Equity, has faced criticism, the production has faced criticism, OSHA is actually monitoring the production very carefully. You're saying those criticisms are unwarranted?

Mr. TIERNEY: I mean, no, I mean, I'm all game for them to raise questions and check out the safety precautions in the show. You know, Department of Labor saw every single stunt that we did. We couldn't do a single performance of these stunts until they gave the go ahead. But they gave the go ahead.

NORRIS: The show's in previews and it's scheduled to open officially in early February. It's been delayed. Will you be healed by then?

Mr. TIERNEY: Yes, February.

NORRIS: Do you plan to be a part of the production?

Mr. TIERNEY: I don't think that Ill be healed by then, but I do believe I'll be close.

NORRIS: Christopher, we wish you all the best in your recovery.

Mr. TIERNEY: Thank you, Michele.

NORRIS: That's Christopher Tierney. He performs as the flying Spider Man in the Broadway musical, and he insists he will fly again.

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