It’s been six weeks since the small-budget Western film Rust shut down production, after an incident in which a firearm discharged on the film’s set, wounding director Joel Souza, and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. During the intervening period, much of the focus on that incident has fallen on star Alec Baldwin, who not only served as a producer on the film, but who was holding the firearm (and pointing it at Hutchins) when it was discharged.
Now Baldwin has given his first full interview about the incident, during which he denied all responsibility for the weapon’s discharge—as well as allegations that he should have been aware of reported safety violations on the film’s set. Specifically, Baldwin sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos tonight, speaking out in an 80-minute interview (edited down for time) that constitutes the actor’s first public statement on the tragedy since posting a note of condolence to Hutchins’ family on social media shortly after her death.
First and foremost, Baldwin denies pulling the trigger on the gun (which he’d reportedly been told was “cold,” i.e., containing only dummy rounds, by first assistant director Dave Halls). Baldwin told Stephanopoulos that he cocked the hammer on the revolver, then, “I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off.”
Baldwin (who described the shooting as a “one in a billion” improbability) also addressed questions of why the gun was pointing directly at the cinematographer, stating that Hutchins had positioned him that way herself. “Everything is her direction,” Baldwin said (per Variety). “I’m holding the gun where she told me to hold it, which ended up being aimed right below her armpit.”
Baldwin also stated that, “Someone is responsible for what happened. And I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.” He noted that he was unaware of safety concerns and poor conditions that led several crew members to walk off the film’s set the day of Hutchins’ death. He also questioned why a live round was on the film’s set, and how it got into the gun that was handed to him.
“There’s only one question to be resolved,” Baldwin said. “Only one. And that is, ‘Where did the live round come from?’” (Given the wide number of questions people have raised about the conditions under which Rust was being filmed, and the push for increased set safety across the industry that the incident has led to, this does not, in fact, appear to be true.)
“I am a purely creative producer,” Baldwin asserted at one point, stating that he had no impact on who was hired for the film, and, by implication, the consequences of some of those choices. He also criticized members of the crew for suing producers, including himself.