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Alec Baldwin on Friday moved for his fellow producers to bear his legal fees and other financial costs from the fatal shooting in 2021 on the set of Rust that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, claiming in an arbitration demand that his contract insulates him from liability.
The target of multiple lawsuits since he shot Hutchins in October, Baldwin blames the movie’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed and assistant director Dave Halls for assuring him that the gun he was given was not loaded with live rounds. He says it wasn’t his responsibility to check.
“Immediately before the handoff to Baldwin, upon information and belief, Halls had taken the gun off a prop cart after it had been loaded by the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the person responsible for gun safety and managing the operation of firearm-related props on the set,” reads the arbitration demand. “Reed claims to have personally checked all of the rounds to ensure that they weren’t ‘hot’ and then loaded them into the pistol.”
According to the filing, Halls told investigators that he did not check all of the rounds as he should have when Reed opened the gun for him to inspect before handing the firearm off to Baldwin for the scene.
Baldwin also cites Reed’s lawsuit against Seth Kenney, the man whose company supplied ammunition to the production, for introducing live rounds on set. He argues Kenney, along with Hall and Reed, have the most responsibility for the shooting that killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.
The arbitration demand states: “Baldwin is an actor. He didn’t announce that the gun was ‘cold’ when it really contained a live round; he didn’t load the gun; he didn’t check the bullets in the gun; he didn’t purchase the bullets; he didn’t make the bullets and represent that they were dummies; he wasn’t in charge of firearm safety on the set; he didn’t hire the people who supplied the bullets or checked the gun; and he played no role in managing the movie’s props. Each of those jobs was performed by someone else.”
Baldwin claims the producer agreement requires arbitration of any disputes. Furthermore, he argues a clause in his contract absolves him of any financial responsibility, including legal fees.
The filing responds to claims in some lawsuits that Baldwin cut corners on safety measures to save on costs. He says that he forfeited $100,000 of the $250,000 he was paid to star and produce in Rust to enhance the movie’s budget.
Several crewmembers have claimed in lawsuits that Baldwin should have checked the gun to make sure that it wasn’t loaded with live rounds. The actor offers a competing narrative based on training from Reed.
“Reed did not instruct Baldwin to check the gun himself,” writes Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas. “In fact, she told Baldwin that it was her job to check the gun — not his.”
Based on prior gun safety training, Baldwin argues that actors may jointly inspect a gun for live ammunition with an armorer, but never on their own.
The filing also refutes a claim in a lawsuit from a Rust crewmember that the actor had refused weapons training and another from Reed that he didn’t attend a training session. It points to email correspondence between Baldwin and costume designer Terese Davis, in which he asks “to find out who is in charge of the guns on this movie” for lessons before Rust began shooting.
The arbitration demand was filed to JAMS arbitration. Baldwin seeks to be indemnified of all fees and costs that he’s incurred defending himself from lawsuits as a result of the shooting.
In a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter later on Friday, attorney Brian Parrish, who is representing Hutchins’ estate, addressed the arbitration demand. “Alec Baldwin once again is trying to avoid liability and accountability for his reckless actions before and on Oct 21st that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins, as demonstrated by today’s arbitration demand for indemnification from the Rust production company,” the statement read, in part.
March 11, 9:22 p.m. Updated with the statement from the attorney for Hutchins’ estate.
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