In the wake of the accidental shooting that took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western film “Rust” Oct. 21, a reckoning on set safety in the film and television industry is taking place.
Alec Baldwin, the lead actor and producer of "Rust," was behind the gun when the incident occurred. On Dec. 2 he sat down for his first interview since Hutchins' death, saying he "didn't pull the trigger."
"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never," Baldwin said. "Someone put a live bullet in a gun – a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property."
Alec Baldwin's on 'Rust' shooting: 'I would never point a gun at anyone'
Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are sounding off on the tragedy and what it means for productions moving forward.
"Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage said the tragedy that happened on the set of "Rust" should "never happen again."
"That calls into question — are there too many guns in movies," Dinklage said during a roundtable released Jan. 5 with The Hollywood Reporter. "I always think about that being anti-gun myself, but the character isn't."
Dinklage added that the "Rust" shooting made it "very clear" that the movie industry needs to call for change now.
Nicolas Cage, who previously worked with "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on the set of his upcoming western movie "The Old Way," also spoke about gun safety on set during The Hollywood Reporter roundtable.
Cage said he "didn't want to cast blame anywhere" but insisted that certain skills are necessary to be a movie star, including knowing how to handle a firearm.
"You do need to know how to use a gun ... you need to take the time to know what the procedure is," Cage said. "Those are part of the job profiles."
"We’ve used blanks on our set, including on 'Don’t Look Up,' and everything is quadruple-checked. No one is ever in front of that pointed gun, and the chamber is triple-checked," McKay said in the Dec. 8 interview. "When I heard what happened, I was like, 'How could that possibly have happened?' That set sounded sloppy and dangerous."
McKay said he was "horrified" to find out that some of the crew on the set of the Baldwin-produced movie weren't union members because "unions do an extra level of safety."
On the red carpet at the American Cinematheque Awards on Nov. 19, Scarlett Johansson told USA TODAY that the shooting was "such a terribly tragic incident and a totally preventable loss, which makes it even more heavy."
"I’ve handled so many different weapons," said the longtime Marvel star. "I’ve used many rubber guns. There’s no reason not to use a rubber gun. So to me, it just feels like it will forever shift the way we handle that kind of stuff."
The actor told Variety during the Los Angeles premiere of the Netflix action-comedy "Red Notice" that he "was heartbroken" after learning of the incident and said he was calling for some changes on his films with Seven Bucks Productions, the company he co-founded in 2012.
“I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you, without an absence of clarity here, that any movie that we have moving forward with Seven Bucks Productions ... we won’t use real guns at all,” Johnson said. “We’re going to switch over to rubber guns, and we’re going to take care of it in post.”
Johnson, who last starred in "Jumanji" and "Jungle Cruise," is preparing to release the DC Universe movie "Black Adam" next year.
"When something like this happens of this magnitude (that is) this heartbreaking, I think the most prudent thing and the smartest thing to do is just pause for a second and really reexamine how you’re going to move forward and how we’re going to work together,” Johnson added.
During an appearance on the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast, Clooney, who’s starred in action films such as “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Out of Sight” and “Three Kings,” told Maron that transparency and caution are crucial when handling firearms on set.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on a set … I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, show it to the crew: every single take, you hand it back to the armorer when you’re done,” Clooney said.
Clooney also said what happened on the “Rust” set is a sobering reminder to ensure film crews are always top of the line.
“Why for the life of me this low-budget film, with producers who haven’t produced anything, wouldn’t have hired for the armorer someone with experience … it’s insane, it’s infuriating,” Clooney said. “We need to be better at making sure that the heads of our departments are … experienced and know what they’re doing.”
“The Harder They Fall” star, who practiced his horse stunts for the Netflix film at Bonanza Creek Ranch, the site of the “Rust” shooting, said adding effects in post-production or discontinuing the use of blanks in prop guns are possible alternatives for creating safer sets.
"My heart really just goes out to everybody involved," Majors told USA TODAY. “We shouldn't do it again (use blanks) until we know that we can make it absolutely safe.”
Jolie, who has appeared in action films such as “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Salt,” told The Times in an interview published Nov. 4 that gun safety on set requires a precise and earnest approach.
“At this moment, the grief and the tragedy of that accident is quite overwhelming,” Jolie said. “I’ve always been very careful because I’ve had to work with guns a lot. The way I’ve worked or checked when I’m directing, there are certain procedures: You have to take it very seriously.”
Contributing: Elise Brisco, Anika Reed, Marco della Cava, Charles Trepany
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Rust' shooting: Nicolas Cage, The Rock, Scarlett Johansson react