Alec Baldwin suggested that police officers should be on movie sets whenever guns are in use, over two weeks after the actor filed a weapon he thought was safe to use during the filming of his Western Rust. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed in the accident, and director Joel Souza was wounded. While there have been reports about union crew members complaining about the work environment, Baldwin appeared to defend the set when he shared a thread from the film's costume designer.
"Every film/TV set that uses guns, fake or otherwise, should have a police officer on set, hired by the production, to specifically monitor weapons safety," Baldwin tweeted on Monday. He did not say if Rust had an officer on the set. Baldwin was credited as a producer on the film and played the title character.
On Oct. 21, 12 days into the film's 21-day shoot at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, Baldwin was rehearsing a gunfight scene. Assistant director Dave Halls handed a prop gun to Baldwin, announcing the weapon was a "cold gun," meaning it should have been empty. Baldwin discharged the weapon, which had a projectile in it. The projectile struck Hutchins in the chest, and she was pronounced dead at the University of New Mexico Hospital. Souza was hit in the shoulder and briefly hospitalized.
"We were a very, very well-oiled crew shooting a film together, and then this horrible event happened," Baldwin said in his first on-camera remarks after the incident on Oct. 30. "There are incidental accidents on film sets from time to time, but nothing like this. This is a one-in-a-trillion episode. It's a one in a trillion event."
Baldwin also said he was "extremely interested" in the renewed debate about limiting firearms on film and television sets. "I'm not an expert in this field. So whatever other people decide is the best way to go, in terms of protecting people's safety on film sets, I'm all in favor of and I will cooperate with that in any way that I can," he said. The actor also doubted that Rust would ever be completed.
Immediately following the shooting, reports about union employees walking off the set to protest working conditions surfaced. Costume designer Terese Magpale Davis disputed this in a comment on social media, and Baldwin appeared to co-sign this by sharing Davis' post on Instagram. "The story of us being overworked and surrounded by unsafe, chaotic conditions is bulls-," Davis wrote.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff's office is still investigating the incident, and no one has been criminally charged yet. "We identified two other people that handled and or inspected the loaded prior to Baldwin firing the weapon," Sheriff Adam Mendoza said in a press conference on Oct. 27, referring to Halls and armorer Hannah Reed-Gutierrez. Baldwin, Reed-Gutierrez, and Halls have been cooperative with the investigation, Mendoza said.