A view of the entrance to Bonanza Creek Ranch where Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer and wounded a director when he discharged a prop gun on the movie set of the film “Rust” in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., October 22, 2021. REUTERS/Adria Malcolm
October 22, 2021
By Adria Malcolm and Alexandra Ulmer
SANTA FE, N.M. (Reuters) – Hollywood star Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer and wounded a director when he fired a prop gun on a New Mexico movie set, authorities said, and police on Friday were still investigating the circumstances of the shooting.
Halyna Hutchins was transported by helicopter after the shooting on Thursday to the University of Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The incident occurred on the set of “Rust” at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location south of Santa Fe, according to the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department.
Baldwin, 63, is a co-producer of “Rust”, a Western movie set in 1880s Kansas, and also plays the eponymous character who is an outlaw grandfather of a 13-year-old boy convicted of an accidental killing.
The sheriff’s office said late on Thursday that no charges had been filed and the investigation remained “open and active”. Baldwin voluntarily gave a statement about the shooting at the sheriff’s office, the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported.
Baldwin’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment. People magazine reported on Thursday that a spokesperson for Baldwin called the shooting an “accident” involving the “misfire of a prop gun with blanks”.
Baldwin was seen “distraught and in tears” outside the sheriff’s department on Thursday, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. Deadline, the news entertainment website, reported that Baldwin was questioned and released, citing a source in the sheriff’s office.
The film’s director, Joel Souza, was wounded and taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Actress Frances Fisher, who is co-starring in the movie, said on Twitter: “Souza texted me that he’s out of hospital.”
A hospital spokesperson declined to comment, saying he was not permitted to release information about patients.
Production of ‘Rust’ has been halted for an “undetermined period”, several news outlets quoted the film’s production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, as saying.
An e-mail to an address for the film production went unanswered.
The road leading to the set location was closed on Friday morning, with security guards turning people away.
The shooting evoked memories of an on-set accident when U.S. actor Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died at age 28 after being fatally wounded by a prop gun while filming “The Crow”.
“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,” said a tweet from Lee’s account, which is handled by his sister.
BAN ON SOME PROP GUNS?
The accident renewed debate about whether certain types of prop guns should be banned.
“This suggestion doesn’t help any of them, but it’s time to stop being macho about blanks and end the practice,” Ben Rockula, a director, said on Twitter.
Earlier on Thursday, Baldwin had posted a picture of himself on Instagram from the set dressed in cowboy-style attire, with what appeared to be a fake blood stain on his shirt and jacket.
The post was deleted on Thursday night.
Known for his impersonations of former U.S. President Donald Trump on NBC’s comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” Baldwin is a versatile actor who has starred in both comedies and dramas over a long career in film and television. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in 1993’s “The Cooler” and has won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, once worked as an investigative reporter in Europe, her website said.
She graduated from the American Film Institute in 2015 and was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019, her website said.
She described herself as a “Restless Dreamer” and an “Adrenaline junkie” on her Instagram page.
Her last post, two days ago, shows her grinning under a wide-brimmed hat as she rides a horse. “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off:)” she captioned the video.
April Wright, a writer, director and producer, paid tribute to her on Facebook.
“I’m in disbelief,” wrote Wright. “So young, vibrant, and talented. Such a wonderful soul. My heart goes out to her son and family.”
Representatives for Hutchins did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who worked with Hutchins on the 2020 movie “Archenemy”, wrote on Twitter.
“She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”
Souza, 48, lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife and two children, according to the IMDB website. He directed, wrote and produced “Crown Vic”, a 2019 action film also co-produced by Baldwin.
The New Mexico Film Office, which promotes the state as a location for movies and television, declined to comment.
The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents 160,000 actors and other media professionals, said it would investigate the incident “to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again”.
(Reporting by Adria Malcolm in Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru and Alexandra Ulmer in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Karishma Singh, Noeleen Walder, Muralikumar Anantharaman, Mike Collett-White and Gareth Jones)