Filmmaker Michael Bay is facing charges in Italy related to the killing of a pigeon on the 2018 set of the Netflix blockbuster “6 Underground,” TheWrap has exclusively learned.
Bay, who has made several attempts to clear the case with Italian authorities — to no avail — categorically denied the allegations Thursday.
“I am a well-known animal lover and major animal activist,” Bay said in a statement to TheWrap. “No animal involved in the production was injured or harmed. Or on any other production I’ve worked on
in the past 30 years.”
Pigeons are a protected species in Italy. Italy has a national law that makes it illegal to harm, kill or capture any wild bird, including pigeons. Pigeons are also protected in the E.U. under the Birds Directive.
According to an insider with knowledge of the production, a homing pigeon was allegedly killed by a dolly in the middle of a take in Rome. An unnamed individual who happened to be on set apparently witnessed the incident, took a picture and reported it to Italian authorities, the insider added. A second individual with knowledge of the shoot said the scene involved a large group of pigeons and a wind machine.
As the person in charge of the shoot, Bay was charged with failing to supervise the crew members responsible for handling the animals, according to his Italian lawyer, Fabrizio Sigma.
But it’s not entirely clear whether a pigeon perished, or not.
“We have clear video evidence,” Bay said, “a multitude of witnesses, and safety officers that exonerates us from these claims. And disproves their one paparazzi photo — which gives a false story.”
Other particulars about the case were unclear Thursday.
“There is an ongoing court case so I cannot get into the specifics, but I am confident we will prevail when I have my day in court,” Bay said.
Bay and his legal team have made three different attempts in the past past year to throw the case out of court. Because Bay was the director of the film during production, he’s being held responsible. Italian authorities gave Bay the option to settle and pay a small fine, which he declined.
“I was offered by the Italian authorities a chance to settle this matter by paying a small fine, but I declined to do so because I would not plead guilty to having harmed an animal,” Bay added.
Netflix, which released “6 Underground” on the streamer, declined to comment for this story. Skydance, which financed the project, also declined to comment.
Principal production on “6 Underground” began on July 30, 2018, in Italy. The film shot in Rome, Florence, Sienna and Taranto. Principal photography wrapped on Dec. 5, 2018.
Ryan Reynolds starred in “6 Underground” as “One,” a billionaire leading a team of six individuals who fake their deaths and form a vigilante squad to take down some extremely bad guys. “6 Underground” was based on an original idea and written by executive producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, best known for their work on “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2.”
The film also starred Corey Hawkins as “Five,” Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as “Three,” Dave Franco as “Two,” Adria Arjona as “Four” and Ben Hardy as “Six.” Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent and Payman Maadi rounded out the main cast.
Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger produced “6 Underground” alongside Reynolds, Ian Bryce and Bay.
Italian local and state authorities didn’t respond to TheWrap’s numerous requests for comment.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional reporting.