Actor Alec Baldwin was told by the assistant director of the movie “Rust” that the prop gun he was going to use was “cold”, meaning that the weapon did not have any live rounds in it, just moments before he pulled the trigger and accidentally shot and killed the director of photography Halyna Hutchins and wounded Joel Souza, the film’s director, according to an affidavit filed by the Sherriff office of Santa Fe County and reported by The New York Times.
According to the first account of the accident, the actor was given the gun after it was deemed to be safe by the staff, once the gun was fired, Baldwin immediately gave the gun to the on-stage armorer (the movie’s weapon specialist) who took the spent cartridge and gave it to the police. Baldwin also changed his clothes and handed over the costume he was using during the accident.
The report also says that the prop gun was set up by the film’s weapons expert and that the assistant director, who told Baldwin the weapon was safe, “did not know live rounds were in the prop gun”. According to police officials, Baldwin has been very cooperative with the authorities investigating the accident.
The affidavit comes after the Albuquerque Journal obtained the recordings of the 911 call to the police after the accident, where a woman who identified herself as a script director told the emergency operators about the accident. When asked if the weapon was loaded, the woman said that she didn’t know and ranted that “this (expletive) AD that yelled at me at lunch (…) he’s supposed to check the guns, he’s responsible for what happens on the set”.
There are many lingering questions about how was it possible for a prop gun that was deemed to be safe by the staff ended up killing the photography director and injuring the director of the film. Police officials have said that “we should have more information at the beginning of next week”.
“There are no words”
Earlier this Friday, Baldwin posted two tweets addressing the accident. On them, the actor said that “there are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins” and that he was “fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred”.
Baldwin also said that he was “in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family” and that his “heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna”.
Questions about gun safety
The accident that took the lie of Halyna Hutchins was not the first time that someone from the movie industry has been killed in a similar way. One of the most well-known incidents with gun props occurred in 1993 when Brandon Lee, the son of famed Chinese actor Bruce Lee, was killed after a gun charged with blank rounds was shot. However, the tip of a bullet had become lodged in the gun after previously and when the blank was shot, the bullet was propelled and struck Lee in the stomach, killing him 12 hours after the accident.
Another similar accident occurred in 1984 when actor Jon-Erik Hexum died during the filming of CBS’s show “Cover-Up”, after accidentally firing himself in the head with a blank round in a prop gun while pretending to play the Russian roulette.
The death of Halyna Hutchins has opened a debate on gun prop safety on sets, with some saying that the use of props should be banned and substituted with CG, others saying that if the current safety rules are followed, then accidents would not happen. Prop guns are loaded with blank cartridges, which have real gunpowder but are covered with a soft material, like cotton or paper, instead of a metal bullet, like normal guns.