‘Rust’ shooting: Stars surprised by ‘mismanaged set’ in fatal prop-weapon incident

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LOS ANGELES – As the questions about security protocols continue in the film set, where Alec Baldwin killed a cinematographer with a requisition weapon, he was told it would be safe, Hollywood professionals say they are surprised by the circumstances and the Production crews quickly tightened security measures.

Jeffrey Wright, who worked on projects including the James Bond franchise and the upcoming movie “The Batman,” was dealing with a gun on the set of “Westworld” as the news of the shooting Thursday on a New Mexico ranch. “We were all pretty shocked. And it informed what we were doing from that moment on,” he said in an interview Sunday at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

“I do not remember ever handing over a weapon that was not extinguished in front of me – that is, the chamber open, the barrel shown to me, the light flashing on the barrel to make sure it was extinguished,” Wright said. “Clearly, that was a mismanaged set.”

The shooting on the set of the movie “Rust” killed 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza, who was behind it.

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or “armorer”, had placed on a vehicle outside the building where a scene was being tested, according to court records. Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed a gun from a van and handed it to Baldwin, proving the gun was safe by shouting “cold gun,” court papers say. But it was loaded with live rounds, according to records.

Baldwin, 63, who is known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live”, described the death as a “tragic accident”.

“The Umbrella Academy” actor Justin Min, also at the Newport Festival, said “it was a very deep time” in the last days on set as he filmed the indie thriller “Detained”.

“Then – I think we were obviously already cautious, but it’s just another level of caution,” Min said.

A pro-manufacturer and licensed pyrotechnician who worked with Halls, the assistant director, on another production, said she had raised safety concerns about him in the past.

Maggie Goll said in a statement that she had filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series in 2019 over concerns about Halls’ behavior on the set. Goll said in a telephone interview Sunday that Halen had ignored security protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics and was trying to continue filming after the surveillance pyrotechnician lost consciousness on set.

Halls did not return phone calls or emails to seek comments. Rust Movie Productions did not return repeated emails asking for comment.

The fatal shooting and past experience point to major safety issues that need to be addressed, Goll said, adding that crew safety and well-being are top issues in ongoing contract negotiations between a union representing film and television workers and a large producer group.

“This situation is not about Dave Halls … It’s in no way a person’s fault,” she said. “There’s a bigger conversation about security on set and what we’re trying to achieve with that culture.”

A vigil for Hutchins was held Sunday in Southern California, where participants exchanged scathing remarks and speakers called for enhanced safety standards.

Actress Rosanna Arquette has joined many in Hollywood to make a move away from using real weapons, whether armed with blanks or bullets.

“I hope this awakens people. Because there should be no live round anyone on a movie. We have enough CGI, we have enough – it’s absurd,” she said. “All of us are at the core of the industry shaking about this.”

Actor Ray Liotta has agreed with Wright that controls on firearms are usually extensive.

“They always – I know – they control it for you to see,” Liotta said. “They give it to the person you are pointing the gun at, they give it to the manufacturer, they show who is there that it does not work.”

Baldwin, who is a producer on “Rust,” met Hutchins’ husband and 9-year-old son on Saturday at a hotel in Santa Fe, where the actor lived during the film. Baldwin and Hutchins’ husband can be seen in a New York Post photo.


Flaccus reports from Portland, Oregon. Michelle Eaton in Newport Beach, California, contributed to this report.


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