October 22, 2021
In what is currently being called an accident, rabidly anti-gun actor Alex Baldwin on Thursday shot and killed the director of photographer on the set of the movie Rust and wounded the movie’s director in the same incident.
According to the Santa Fe, New Mexico, sheriff’s office, Baldwin discharged a “prop firearm,” killing 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins and wounding 48-year-old Joel Souza. The movie is being filmed at Bonanza Creek Ranch in the Santa Fe area, and that’s where the prop gun was apparently fired.
A distraught Baldwin was photographed by the local newspaper with tears in his eyes outside the sheriff’s office after questioning. The sheriff’s office opened an investigation into the shooting, trying to determine exactly what occurred and what type of projectile was fired from the gun.
“Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was fired. The incident remains an active investigation,” the department said in a statement.
Baldwin released a statement late Friday morning saying he was “heart-broken” over the tragedy.
“I’m fulling cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her (Hutchins’) husband, offering my support to him and his family,” Baldwin tweeted. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
The production company in charge of the film, Rust Movies Production LLC, also released a statement on the shooting.
“The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones,” a spokesperson for Rust Movies Productions LLC told Deadline. “We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation.” Alec Baldwin is listed as a Producer of the film on Internet Movie Database.
Baldwin’s anti-gun activism is well-known. In 2018, Baldwin joined Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer and other anti-gun activists in Hollywood to launch an initiative aimed at advocating for gun control and reducing the political influence of the National Rifle Association. At the time, the group stated: “We’re going to shine a bright light on what you and your organization do to America. We’re going to make sure the whole world sees your bloody hands. We’re coming for your money. We’re coming for your puppets. And we’re going to win.”
Also in 2018, the actor appeared on Saturday Night Live, mocking then-President Donald Trump for what Baldwin considered Trump’s ambivalent response to the mass shooting at Parkland High School. In that skit, Baldwin pulled no punches about his support for gun-control initiatives.
Typically, prop guns used for movies do not fire live ammunition. Adam Egypt Mortimer, a movie director and producer, appeared on Good Morning Britain on Friday to question how such a tragedy could have happened.
“Normally it's unusual for somebody to be handed a gun that has the capability of firing at all, anything, and if it is going to fire something, it's only handled by a very specific chain of people,” Mortimer said on the program. “I did a movie with Halyna just last year that had a lot of gunplay in it and honestly, we didn't even use guns that fired anything. They didn't even fire blanks because it's possible to replace everything with CGI and just use guns that make noises.”
Interestingly, in 2017 following a highly publicized police shooting Baldwin tweeted: “I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone…” At the time, Baldwin likely thought he was being clever. Now, that statement is likely one he wishes he had never made.
NOTE FROM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF VINCENT DENIRO:
I started doing theatrical armorer work in 1991 through my company Exotic Arms for Motion Pictures. I have also been a court-approved expert witness in injury cases involving firearms used for theatrical purposes and other firearm-related injuries.
Sometimes, productions don't want to pay the daily rate for a theatrical armorer so they “double duty” someone from the prop department to save a buck, if only one or two guns are being used, or if the guns are only being used as props/not firing. Many news sources keep calling guns used in movies as “prop guns” and this appears to be incorrect in this case. Although fake guns (airsoft, non-guns, etc.) and post-production CGI SFX effects (used for muzzle flash, shell cases ejecting, etc.) have become more common on the set of movies in the past 10 years, most of the guns used for film, which fire blanks, are real guns capable of firing live ammunition. I never allowed live ammunition on set, and all ammunition, which must look real (for close-up shots), must be inert.
As we obtain additional information, we will update this article.