Tragic news from the set of Rust, a western starring Alec Baldwin, Travis Fimmel, Frances Fisher, and Jensen Ackles, among others.
The film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, was fatally shot in the chest with a live round from a prop gun fired by Baldwin during a rehearsal. After being shot, Hutchins was flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she was pronounced dead. Hutchins leaves behind a 9-year-old son and a husband. Her credits include Darlin’ (2019), Archenemy (2020), and Blindfire (2020).
Director and writer Joel Souza (Crown Vic) was injured in the incident that took place on the New Mexico set. The filmmaker was reportedly shot in the shoulder and was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. He has reportedly now been discharged.
According to the film’s IMDb page, Rust tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880’s Kansas. They go on the run with his long-estranged grandfather after he’s sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.
How could this happen?
According to a Santa Fe court-filed search warrant – put forth so that investigators could look through the set, any footage that could have captured key moments surrounding the incident, Baldwin’s costume, and all prop guns and ammunition being used – Hannah Gutierrez, one of three armorers on the film, had reportedly placed this gun and two others on a cart that was situated outside the wooden structure being used.
Assistant director Dave Halls took the gun from the cart and handed it to Baldwin, announcing it as a “Cold Gun.” As the search warrant application describes it, Halls was unaware that this prop had been, in fact, loaded with live rounds.
When Baldwin fired the gun, Hutchins was situated in front of Souza as they watched the rehearsal play out.
As of now, no charges have yet been laid. The Santa Fe County sheriff’s department stated that this remains an “open and active” investigation, with no further official details made available as to how exactly the live rounds ended up in this gun in the first place.
One possibility comes from TMZ sources, who claim that “the same gun Alec Baldwin accidentally fired — hitting the DP and director — was being used by crews members off set as well, for what we’re told amounted to target practice.” This alleged target practice was reportedly being done away from the set – with real bullets.
Alec Baldwin releases statement
Baldwin, also a producer on the film, released a statement. Calling the incident a “tragic accident”, Baldwin expressed his sadness and said he had reached out to Hutchins’ husband.
“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 said.
“I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
A reportedly dangerous set
This tragic incident follows reports of crew complaints stemming from filming conditions and safety concerns. As reported by AP News, the disputes on the production started back “in early October and culminated with seven crew members walking off several hours before” Hutchins was tragically killed.
Deadline’s sources reported that there was even an incident of a weapon misfiring just days before. “A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin,” said a Deadline source. “They just fired loud pops – a person was just holding it in their hands and it went off.”
A camera crew member reportedly posted further information on a private Facebook page, describing their reasons for a walkout: “We cited everything from lack of payment for three weeks, taking our hotels away despite asking for them in our deals, lack of Covid safety, and on top of that, poor gun safety! Poor on-set safety period!”
Statement from Rust Movie Productions
Deadline shared the following statement from Rust Movie Productions, who have said they will now be conducting an internal review:
The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.
Statement from director Joel Souza
Deadline shared the following statement from director Joel Souza:
“I am gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna. She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch, and always pushed me to be better.”
“My thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time. I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe, and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out….. It will surely aid in my recovery.”
Halyna Hutchins‘ husband, Matthew Hutchins, releases statement
“Halyna inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words. Our loss is enormous, and we ask that the media please respect my family’s privacy as we process our grief. We thank everyone for sharing images and stories of her life.”
Halyna inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words. Our loss is enormous, and we ask that the media please respect my family’s privacy as we process our grief. We thank everyone for sharing images and stories of her life. pic.twitter.com/LgEp4XVkja
— Matt Hutchins (@mhutchins) October 23, 2021
Thank you to Halyna's friends and mentors at AFI for establishing a scholarship to honor her memory and support aspiring female cinematographers. Anyone seeking to honor her memory, please direct your giving to this fund. https://t.co/I5ci67uleU
— Matt Hutchins (@mhutchins) October 23, 2021
Hutchins’ agency Innovative Artists releases statement
“Halyna Hutchins was a ray of light. Always smiling, always hopeful. She decided early on she would take the craft of cinematography by storm and the last couple of years proved she was well on her way,” the agency said.
“Her talent was immense, only surpassed by the love she had for her family. All those in her orbit knew what was coming; a star director of photography, who would be a force to be reckoned with.
“All of us at Innovative Artists are heartbroken. We mourn for her family and we hope this tragedy will reveal new lessons for how to better ensure safety for every crew member on set.”