Actor Alec Baldwin expressed his sadness Friday morning and said he is fully co-operating with a police investigation after a cinematographer died on a New Mexico movie set the previous day when officials say he fired a prop gun.
Baldwin said “my heart is broken” over the death Thursday of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust on the southern outskirts of Santa Fe. He called what happened a “tragic accident.”
Joel Souza, the movie’s director, was also wounded, and authorities are investigating. Baldwin was performing at the time of the shooting, the sheriff’s office said. It was unclear how many rounds were fired, and little was known about the weapon.
Baldwin tweeted the following on Friday morning:
1-<br>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. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and
2- 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.
Prop gun misfired, Baldwin spokesperson says
A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks. Santa Fe County Sheriff’s spokesperson Juan Rios said detectives were investigating what type of projectile was discharged and how. No immediate charges were filed.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Baldwin, 63, was seen Thursday outside the sheriff’s office in tears, but attempts to get comments from him were unsuccessful.
The actor is known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October, as well as his impression of former U.S. president Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Deadline, the news entertainment website, reported that Baldwin was questioned and released, citing a source in the sheriff’s office.
Prop guns fire blanks, gunpowder charges that produce a flash and a bang but not a hard projectile. But when the trigger is pulled, the paper or plastic wadding is ejected from the barrel with enough force that it can be lethal at close range, as proved to be the case in the death of an actor on a television set in 1984.
In another on-set accident in 1993, Brandon Lee, the actor son of martial arts star Bruce Lee, was killed after a bullet was left in a prop gun.
Investigation open and active
Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel, the sheriff’s department said. Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he is undergoing treatment.
“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” International Cinematographers Guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine said in a statement.
Actress Frances Fisher, who is co-starring in Rust, said on Twitter: “Souza texted me that he’s out of hospital.”
Sheriff’s deputies responded about 2 p.m. local time to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls described a person being shot there, said Rios, the sheriff’s spokesperson. The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks Western News of the World.
“This investigation remains open and active,” Rios said in a statement. “No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”
Cinematographer a ‘rising star’
Hutchins, a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute, worked as director of photography on the 2020 action film Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello. She was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019.
“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” said Archenemy director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. “She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”
I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set. She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film. ❤️ <a href=”https://t.co/vcdFqHsGA0″>pic.twitter.com/vcdFqHsGA0</a>
Manganiello called Hutchins “an incredible talent” and “a great person” on his Instagram account. He said he was lucky to have worked with her.
Hutchins had Ukrainian citizenship, according to Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko. The country’s consulate in San Francisco is clarifying what happened and is working with law enforcement officials.
Baldwin teamed up as a producer previously with Souza on the 2019 film Crown Vic, which starred Thomas Jane as a veteran Los Angeles police officer on a search for two violent bank robbers. Souza’s first credited film, 2010’s Hanna’s Gold, was a treasure hunt adventure featuring Luke Perry.
Production was halted on Rust. The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.
The road leading to the set location was closed on Friday morning, with security guards turning people away.
In 1993, Brandon Lee, 28, died after being hit by a .44-calibre slug while filming a death scene for the movie The Crow. The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.
A Twitter account run by Lee’s sister, Shannon, said: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on Rust. No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series Cover Up.
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