The actor and director Alec Baldwin has said the assistant director and the props manager for his movie Rust were responsible for the on-set death of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during filming last year in New Mexico.
Facing a lawsuit from Hutchins’ family, Baldwin gave a rare interview on Friday in which he insisted he was not to blame for the October 2021 death, despite a shot from a gun he was holding killing Hutchins and wounding the director, Joel Souza.
“Someone put a live bullet in the gun who should have known better,” Baldwin told CNN, referring to Rust’s armorer and props manager, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
“That was her job. Her job was to look at the ammunition and put in the dummy round or the blank round, and there wasn’t supposed to be any live rounds on the set.”
Baldwin, who said “there is not a day goes by” when he does not think about the death of Hutchins, also placed blame on the assistant director, David Halls, who handed him the weapon and declared it “cold”, or loaded with non-live rounds.
“There are two people who didn’t do what they were supposed to do,” he said.
“I’m not sitting there saying I want them to, you know, go to prison, or I want their lives to be hell. I don’t want that. But I want everybody to know that those are the two people that are responsible for what happened.”
Through their attorneys, Gutierrez-Reed and Halls told CNN Baldwin’s comments were an attempt to deflect blame.
The 64-year-old actor has insisted he never pulled the trigger of the weapon during rehearsal for a scene in which he was supposed to fire a shot at the camera.
But an FBI forensic study released last week cast doubt on Baldwin’s account. The agency sent a report to the Santa Fe sheriff’s office with a determination that the gun could not be fired without a pull on the trigger, according to NPR.
In a statement to the broadcaster, Baldwin’s lawyers said the FBI had “misconstrued” their findings, and that the gun was “in poor condition”.
The sheriff’s office is expected to make recommendations to the county district attorney soon.
Friday’s CNN report cited an administrative complaint by the New Mexico environment department’s occupational health and safety bureau against Rust’s production company, stating that Gutierrez-Reed told Halls to alert her when Baldwin arrived so she could perform a safety check on the firearm.
The complaint says the armorer left the set “expecting Mr Halls to notify her when Mr Baldwin arrived” but that he did not, and instead he gave the gun directly to Baldwin.
“Why didn’t she check that bullet? Why didn’t Halls obey her? Why did he give me the gun? Why didn’t he check? Why did he tell the crew [it was cold]?” Baldwin said.
Gutierrez-Reed, an inexperienced armorer working only her second movie, has criticized the Santa Fe sheriff’s office for failing to pursue fingerprint evidence on live rounds found on the set.
An email from detectives to Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, reported by Deadline, suggests such inquiries “didn’t make sense” because “the items were from movie sets [and] had been handled over and over and over”.
In April, the state of New Mexico issued its maximum citation, $140,000, against Rust’s production company for safety lapses leading to Hutchins’ death.
Gutierrez-Reed is suing the company that provided the movie’s firearms and ammunition.