Alec Baldwin does not believe sabotage led to 'Rust' shooting

·6 min read

Actor Alec Baldwin does not believe the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie "Rust" was caused by sabotage.

In an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that aired Thursday, Baldwin said it was “overwhelmingly likely" that the Oct. 21 incident at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico was an accident.

Baldwin was holding a Colt .45 revolver during a marking rehearsal for the low-budget western, when the prop gun discharged a live bullet that killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.

When Stephanopoulos asked about the possibility of sabotage — a charge raised by the lawyer for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer for the production — Baldwin could find no reason for it.

“That's an enormous charge to make, that someone came and did something, for what purpose?" Baldwin said. "To attack who? To discredit who? To harm me? The production? What was their motive in doing that, if somebody did that?”

Baldwin also said he does not expect to be criminally charged in the matter. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office has been scrutinizing the actions of Baldwin, who was also a producer on the western, as well as assistant director David Halls and Gutierrez Reed as part of its investigation into Hutchins' death.

"I’ve been told by people who are in the know and even inside the state that it’s highly unlikely I would be charged with anything criminally," Baldwin said.

Baldwin does expect Hutchins' husband to file a civil suit over her death. “He’s entitled to something as far as I’m concerned,” said the star of NBC sitcom "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live."

Two crew members have already filed civil suits against the producers, including Baldwin, accusing them of negligence.

While he expressed grief over Hutchins' death, Baldwin said he does not feel any responsibility for what happened.

"Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn't even supposed to be on the property," Baldwin said. "Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me."

The prime-time hour also presented more details on Baldwin's assertion that he did not pull the trigger of the gun.

During rehearsal, Baldwin said Halls handed him a revolver. Baldwin recalled Halls telling him, “This is a cold gun” — industry jargon for a weapon that is either literally empty or loaded with nonfiring dummy rounds.

“Now, what happened there, and why he made that statement, and what the realities were, I have, again, I have no idea,” Baldwin said.

Halls told investigators that he did not check all the rounds in the gun before it was handed to Baldwin — a major breach of safety protocol, according to an affidavit filed with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office.

The actor described how Hutchins began blocking out the scene.

“This was a marking rehearsal,” Baldwin said. “And [Hutchins] says to me, ‘Hold the gun lower. Go to your right. OK, right there. All right, do that. Now show it a little bit lower.’ And she's getting me to position the gun. She's guiding me through how she wants me to hold the gun for this angle. I'm holding the gun where she told me to hold it, which ended up being aimed right below her armpit.”

To get the shot, Baldwin said he needed to cock the gun but not fire it.

“The trigger wasn't pulled," he said. "I didn't pull the trigger. I cock the gun. I go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?’ And then I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off.”

Once Hutchins was hit by the bullet, she collapsed and Souza screamed out in pain. Baldwin thought she had fainted. He was not aware she had died from a bullet wound until he was interviewed by police nearly an hour later.

When Stephanopoulos noted how many industry experts and actors have said a gun is never pointed at another person on a film set under any circumstances, Baldwin replied he was taking directions from Hutchins.

"Unless the person is the cinematographer who is directing me where to point the gun for her camera angle," he said. "That’s exactly what happened."

Earlier Thursday, a member of the camera crew on "Rust" disputed Baldwin's claim that he didn't pull the trigger on the Colt .45 prop gun.

"Guns don't just go off. The single action Colt .45 revolver handled by Alec Baldwin required multiple active steps to discharge and kill Halyna Hutchins," first camera assistant Lane Luper said through his attorney in a statement. "The gun had to be loaded with live ammunition, held and pointed, the hammer of the weapon manually cocked, and the trigger pulled. It was not a magic self-firing weapon."

The dispute comes amid a law enforcement investigation by Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, an FBI analysis of the weapons and ammunition involved in the shooting, and two civil lawsuits brought by two other members of the "Rust" crew who alleged that lax safety protocols by producers, including Baldwin, and the hiring of an inexperienced armorer, put the entire crew in harm's way.

The attorney for Halls backed up Baldwin's claim that he did not pull the trigger.

"The entire time Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard, parallel to the barrel. [Halls] told me since Day 1, that he thought it was a misfire," Halls' attorney, Lisa Torraco, told ABC News. "Until Alec said that, it was just really hard to believe. But Dave has told me since the very first day I met him that Alec did not pull that trigger."

Luper and six other members of the camera crew resigned from "Rust" on Oct. 20, the night before the shooting, citing gun safety issues on set, a failure to receive paychecks and a lack of accommodations for people who lived in Albuquerque, about 50 miles from the ranch where the movie was being filmed.

"The production and its producers, including Baldwin, cut corners and endangered their entire crew by failing to follow industry safety rules," Luper said in his statement.

Baldwin said he was not aware of complaints about safety problems on set. He said the day before some crew members quit, he was alerted to issues with hotel rooms for the crew. He said he was prepared to return a portion of his salary to help pay for rooms but, without a warning to him, crew members did not show up the next day.

Rust Movie Productions said in a statement the day after Hutchins’ death that it was not aware of official safety complaints on set and that it was conducting its own review and cooperating with authorities.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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