Production Company “Rust” To Launch Internal Review After Fatal Crash, Possible Prior Incidents, and Film Crew Walkout – Deadline
The set of New Mexico from the independent western Rust, where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot to death Thursday by a prop pistol “unloaded” by star Alec Baldwin, had had a myriad of issues, including safety issues, before the crash, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the situation. This included at least one previous incident involving a misfire of a weapon that had been used days earlier in a scene.
“A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin,” a source told Deadline. “They just pulled loud pops – someone was just holding it in their hands and it went off.”
Just hours before Thursday’s fatal crash, in which Hutchins and director Joel Souza were shot, seven members of the film’s crew packed their personal gear and left work, citing a wide range of complaints . Several of those who resigned wrote letters of resignation.
âWe have cited everything from lack of payment for three weeks, to the removal of our hotels despite their demand in our offers, to the lack of Covid security and, on top of that, to poor gun safety! Bad security period on the set! A member of the film crew wrote on a private Facebook page. After the walkout, “They brought in four non-union guys to replace us and tried to call the cops on us.”
When contacted for comment, Rust Movie Productions, LLC released the following statement to Deadline:
The safety of our actors and our team is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. While we have not been made aware of any official complaints regarding the safety of weapons or accessories on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and to provide mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.
As for the police investigation, Baldwin and the film’s gunsmith, who handled all of the propeller pistols, were questioned and released Thursday after the incident, authorities confirmed to Deadline. “No one has been detained and there have been no arrests,” Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Juan Rios said on Friday. âOur investigation is continuing.
Even before Rust went into production, a number of gunsmiths turned down the gig citing concerns about the film’s budget and the amount of guns to be used, we hear.
The guild of filmmakers confirmed Thursday evening the identity of Hutchins, 42, who was hit by the misfire of a propeller pistol. She died of her injuries after being airlifted to the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque. Souza was also taken to a nearby Santa Fe hospital with injuries. He was then released after treatment. Production was halted indefinitely.
Late Thursday evening, Los Angeles-based IATSE Local 44 emailed members saying “only one live bullet was accidentally fired” from the propeller pistol, hitting Hutchins and Souza. Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Juan Rios told Deadline they “haven’t even started forensics on this matter.” Baldwin has been questioned and released and the investigation is ongoing.
Rust was first announced in May 2020 when Baldwin signed on to produce and star in the independent / western action feature film. The photo is based on a story by Baldwin and Crown Vic helmer Souza, who wrote the screenplay and is the director. Frances Fisher, Jensen Ackles, Travis Fimmel and Brady Noon lead the cast.
Dominic Patten contributed to this report