It is not uncommon for actors working in film to sustain a few bumps and bruises on set. But the injuries rising star Taylor Hickson suffered while shooting her latest movie in 2016 were much more serious. The actress claimed that she had been scarred for life when her interaction with part of the set went badly wrong. On the eve of the film’s release in April 2018, the 20-year-old announced that she was seeking damages from the studio she says is responsible. And the “conflicted, confused, hurt, angry, and sad” Hickson is out for blood.
Ironically, it could be said that Canadian-born Hickson fell into the acting profession by accident. Originally envisioning a life of music, the eldest of four siblings from Kelowna in British Columbia was persuaded to switch careers at the age of 16 by a close relative. Apparently her aunt was employed at a talent agency in Vancouver and a fresh face at work set things in motion. “[She] texted me saying that a new agent had joined her agency,” Hickson told fan website Talk Nerdy With Us in September, 2016. She added, “He liked my look, and he wanted to… have an audition with me.”
And, after flying down to Vancouver the weekend after the fateful exchange with her aunt, Hickson was instantly signed by the talent scout. Despite having little acting experience under her belt, the young hopeful made a similarly favorable instant impression on casting agents. So much so, in fact, that she landed her first role in a major film, the superhero box-office smash Deadpool, just two years later.
Cast as Meghan in the 2016 X-Men spin-off, Hickson enjoyed a small speaking role alongside fast-talking star Ryan Reynolds. But while her scene may have been short, it was enough to get Hickson noticed in the wider film industry. Indeed, the movie would eventually gross an astonishing $783 million around the world.
Buoyed by the success of Deadpool, Hickson soon received plenty of offers for major parts. Later that year, she scooped the regular role of Brianna in the cable TV company Syfy’s apocalyptic drama series Aftermath and again garnered considerable attention. However, the rising star’s career would take a nasty turn later in 2016 after she joined the cast for French-Canadian horror movie Ghostland.
Hickson played a younger version of one of the lead characters in the film and had many intense scenes to act out. The interior portions of the movie were shot in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. On her last day of filming on December 15, 2016, the actress was required to bang her fists repeatedly and violently against a door on set. And while some glass fittings may have given the star caution, Hickson alleges that she was reassured that every care had been taken to maintain her safety.
According to Hickson, director Pascal Laugier – who had previously helmed 2008’s well-respected indie horror Martyrs – told her the glass panes in the door were strong enough to take a pounding. Moreover, she also claims that one of Ghostland’s producers had confirmed this. So, with these assurances, Hickson reportedly thought nothing of going ahead with the scene.
Nevertheless, the star’s apparent confidence proved to be severely misplaced. Hickson says that she was encouraged to beat on the door harder, despite the fact that her face was close to the glass panels. Alas, instead of staying in one piece as the actress had assumed, the glass shattered as her hands struck it. Furthermore, the momentum made Hickson fall through the fitting, injuring her face and upper torso in the process.
The actress spoke to entertainment website Deadline in March 2018 about her immediate shock following the accident. Hickson was seemingly left reeling by the amount of damage the broken glass had done. “The crafts services lady held my face together with napkins in her hands,” she revealed. “She went through so many napkins, there was so much blood.”
Consequently, the star was sped to the nearest emergency room where doctors attended to her wounds. However, Hickson’s injuries were particularly severe, especially lacerations to the left side of her face. All in all, the young actress left the hospital with some 70 stitches. Nevertheless, Hickson claims that the emotional trauma was also serious.
More than a year on from the injury, Hickson says she has tried her best to recover from her physical and psychological wounds. Since the accident, the star has received silicone and laser treatments in efforts to reduce her facial disfigurement. Nonetheless, Hickson still bears a prominent scar on the lower portion of the left side of her face. And it is one which she claims is unlikely to improve much through further surgery.
And, according to Hickson, she wasn’t just suffering from the physical after effects – the emotional pain was also lingering. As she told Deadline, “It’s been mass amounts of insecurity, conflicted, confused, hurt, angry, and sad that this was my last day on set and no precautions were taken.”
Considering her wounded point of view, it is no surprise that Hickson has refused to let the matter go. As is the case with many who suffer on-set accidents, the actress believes the burden of blame lies squarely with the film’s producers. Consequently, she began legal proceedings against Ghostland’s creators, the ironically named Incident Productions.
Deadline has obtained a copy of the suit Hickson filed against the Winnipeg-based company on March 1, 2018. In the document, it is claimed that the accident was “caused solely by the negligence and/or breach of contract” by Incident Productions, having “failed in exercising the duty of care it owed to the plaintiff.” In addition, the company is accused of avoiding “any and all reasonable steps to ensure that industry standards and practices were adhered to.” This refers to movie makers’ usual use of safety glass and stunt doubles in such situations.
Despite not being named in the suit, Laugier is referred to several times in the document. Named only as “the director,” the legal papers allege that Laugier went beyond just asking Hickson to hit the door. In fact, it claims that he “consistently told [her] to pound harder on the glass with her fists.”
If the hearing, set to take place at The Queen’s Bench court in Winnipeg, rules in Hickson’s favor, Incident Productions will have to pay the actress for mental and physical damages. Besides this, Hickson is also pressing for recompense from the company for lost income and future loss of income. And this part of the claim arguably highlights the saddest aspect of the case.
As a result of her injuries, the rising star says that she is being shunned by casting agents. Indeed, the legal documents – which dub Hickson “an up and coming actor with a bright future” – allege that she has “struggled to find work” since the accident. And, bearing in mind Hollywood’s perceived preoccupation with the perfect image, this point may be plausible.
Rob Macklin, a spokesman for the Canadian performers’ union ACTRA, spoke to Canada’s national broadcaster about Hickson’s case in March 2018. “An accident like this is very scary to a young up-and-coming actress,” he told CBC. “Even right after the accident [Hickson] was a very cheerful young woman, but I certainly know she’s very much worried about her future in the acting business.”
Regardless of its new-found controversy, Ghostland is still penciled in for an April 2018 release in the U.S. In a further irony, its publicity materials feature a close-up of a shattered female face. Nevertheless, the show must go on – indeed, the film premiered in Paris in March 2018. But, unfortunately, one of its stars found it too “uncomfortable” to attend.
And it was a shame Hickson felt unable to go. Despite having had a terrible experience on the film, she did take away something good. The star at least made a friend in English child actress Emilia Jones. The 16-year-old played Hickson’s younger sister in Ghostland, and the pair became close. “I look forward to seeing her again. We were looking forward to running around Paris for the premiere,” Hickson confessed to Deadline. “It’s a bittersweet way to end this piece of art that we both worked so hard on.”