Rust exposes the truth behind gun safety on movie sets

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Photo Credit: Photo via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

Alec Baldwin is the most well known out of his three siblings. He told George Stephanopoulos during the Rust interview, “Someone is ​responsible … but I know it’s not me.”

By: Joseph Sanfilippo, Managing Editor of Entertainment and Media

Alec Baldwin is an iconic American actor who’s well-known for his roles in film and television. He’s starred in films such as Beetlejuice, Working Girl, Married to the Mob, and Talk Radio. He’s now known for his portrayal of Donald Trump on the sketch-comedy series Saturday Night Live.

Rust Incident

In May 2020, Baldwin was set to produce and star in Rust, a neo-western directed by Joel Souza. Souza wanted to work with Baldwin, but never had the chance due to scheduling conflicts. On October 21st, Baldwin fired a gun on the set of the western, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring Souza.

Ironically, the film is about an accidental murder. IMDb’s synopsis says, “Filming on the project started on October 6 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The film’s plot follows a 13-year-old orphan who goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (Alec Baldwin) after he is sentenced to death for the accidental killing of a local rancher.”

It was also revealed the prop gun had a live round in it. Many sources reported that Hutchins was a promising cinematographer with a nice career ahead of her. She shot films like Blindfire and Archenemy and she was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars.

Police involvement

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office told Insider, “Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.” They also confirmed the gun was fired by Baldwin. In wake of the incident, Baldwin expressed his sorrow on Twitter. He tweeted, “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours.”

Baldwin added that he was fully cooperating with the police and that he was in touch with Hutchins’ husband.

Souza stated in an affidavit that Baldwin was rehearsing for a scene when he shot Hutchins. The document said that Baldwin was sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw. The paperwork said Hutchins was shot in the chest. Her last words were, “No…that was no good. That was no good at all.”

Mishaps on set

Six cameramen and their assistants walked off the set on the morning of the incident because of long hours of work and low wages. Some of them were worried about two potential accidental gun discharges that happened the weekend before the shooting.

“Three sources familiar with the matter told the Los Angeles Times that safety protocol standards, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed on set.” In fact, Hutchins advocated safety on set but stayed on set.

Rust’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed worked on another film titled The Old Way. Filming was halted because of an incident with a child actress on the set of that film. Reed was the head armorer on that film, and she loaded a weapon on the ground in an area with pebbles. She handed the gun to the actress without checking for any barrel damage.

A source told The Daily Beast, “She was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again. There were a couple of times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe.”

Assistant director Dave Hall confirmed to the police that he didn’t check all the rounds in the gun. Halls continued to tell the police that he only remembered seeing three rounds before the rehearsal.

“Halls “advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t and couldn’t recall” if Gutierrez-Reed “spun the drum” of the gun, said the affidavit that was included in search warrant documents for a “prop truck” on the movie set.”

Interview

In an emotional interview with George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin confirmed he didn’t know who put the bullet in the gun. “Someone put a live bullet in a gun. A bullet that was not even supposed to be on the property.”

Baldwin even told Stephanopoulos that he didn’t feel guilty. He stated, “I feel that someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.” Baldwin told the ABC reporter that he struggles to get through each day and relives the incident each night.

He also downplayed the risk of facing criminal charges. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the incident. Despite being named a defendant in two civil lawsuits, Baldwin stated, “I’ve been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that it’s highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally.”