In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Thursday, actor Alec Baldwin said he’s speaking out to clear up what he calls “misconceptions” around the tragic and accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust. He denied that he pulled the trigger, and therefore doesn’t believe he was “responsible” for her death.
Baldwin was often teary during the interview. He said that if he could change what happened on the day of the shooting, he would have, adding that he and Hutchins shared one thing in common—a belief that the gun was empty.
Baldwin was quick to say he didn’t want his hour-long interview to come off as if he were the victim. “Because we have two victims here,” referring to Hutchins and director Joel Souza, who was injured by the same bullet.
According to reports, on Oct. 21, the crew was preparing for a shootout scene inside a church when the assistant director, Dave Halls, passed Baldwin a Colt .45 and said “cold gun,” indicating the gun wasn’t loaded with live rounds, investigators said in a search warrant affidavit.
Halls’ attorney, Lisa Torraco, counters that her client didn’t hand the gun to Baldwin.
“Whether or not he handed the firearm directly to Alec Baldwin at that moment or whether the armorer handed it directly to Alec Baldwin at that moment doesn’t really matter, because he did not load it, he’s not responsible,” Torraco told Alburqerque’s KOB-4.
Baldwin said Hutchins had been telling him how to position the gun and when to cock it while the barrel was pointed at her armpit. When Baldwin let go of the hammer, it fired.
“That was the moment the gun went off,” he said, adding that everyone on the set was “horrified” and “shocked” at what happened. The bullet fatally struck Hutchins and became lodged in Souza’s left shoulder.
“The gun was supposed to be empty,” Baldwin told Stephanopoulos. “I was told I was handed an empty gun.” When Hutchins collapsed, Baldwin said he was so surprised he believed that maybe she’d had fainted or had a heart attack, because “the idea that someone put a live bullet in the gun” was unthinkable.
Dave Halls, Rust’s assistant director confirmed Baldwin’s claims.
“The entire time Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard, parallel to the barrel, and that he told me since day one he thought it was a misfire,” Toracco told Good Morning America, according to Daily Beast. Adding: “And until Alec said that it was just really hard to believe. But Dave has told me since the first day I met him that Alec did not pull that trigger.”
The union crew had been struggling with labor issues for days, one of which was failed promises for money for hotel rooms closer to the set. As union members prepared to walk, a crew member on the set told the Times, nonunion crew members appeared to replace them.
Additionally, there’d been two misfires earlier in the week with the same prop gun that killed Hutchins. “There was a serious lack of safety meetings on this set,” a crew person told the Times.
The shooting happened six hours after the union crew left the set.
Despite complaints from the crew about the safety conditions on set, Baldwin, who was a producer on Rust, told Stephanopoulos that he never heard “one word” about those concerns.
Baldwin has been eviscerated in the press about his involvement in the shooting. And of course, some of the criticism came from former President Donald Trump, who’s never forgiven him for famously impersonating him on SNL.
“He’s a troubled guy. There’s something wrong with him. I’ve watched him for years. He gets into fistfights with reporters,” Trump said during an interview for conservative radio host Chris Stigall’s podcast. He added: “He’s a cuckoo-bird. He’s a nutjob. And usually, when there’s somebody like that, you know, in my opinion, he had something to do with it.”
Baldwin says Trump said that about him “deliberately.”
“Just when you think things can’t get any more surreal, here’s the president of the United States making a comment on this tragic situation,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said Rust made him love making movies again, but now he’s focusing on his family and no longer “gives a fuck” about his career. When Stepenoplois asks him if he thinks his career is over, Baldwin says “It could be.”
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