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Speaking to several reporters while stopped on the side of a road in Manchester, Vermont, on Saturday, Baldwin — who was with his wife, Hilaria — once again spoke to the work and person that the Rust director of photography was, calling her his friend. He also commented on the capability of the production and its crew and stated that he does not think production will start up again.
“She was my friend. The day I arrived in Santa Fe and started shooting, I took her to dinner with Joel [Souza], the director,” Baldwin said. “We were a very, very well-oiled crew shooting a film together, and then this horrible event happened.”
Hutchins died on Oct. 21 after being struck by a live round from a gun fired by Baldwin on the movie’s New Mexico set. Director Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins, was wounded and hospitalized before being discharged.
The gun used by Baldwin had been handled by armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls. All three have been identified by Sante Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza as the “primary focus” of the ongoing investigation around the on-set incident.
Ahead of the gun discharge, Halls handed the firearm to Baldwin, announcing, “cold gun” — i.e., that it was “not loaded” — according to a Santa Fe County Sheriff detective’s affidavit used to obtain a search warrant. In the midst of explaining how he would draw the gun, Baldwin went through the motion, which is when the gun fired.
Since the Oct. 21 incident, there’s been increasing focus on the experience of those involved with the production, including Gutierrez-Reed, Halls and the movie’s relatively inexperienced group of six producers, which counts Baldwin among them. Members of the crew walked offset earlier on the day Hutchins was shot over unsafe conditions, with several crewmembers expressing to The Hollywood Reporter frustration specifically with those six producers.
The movie’s line producer, Gabrielle Pickle, was also named in a previous unfair labor practices settlement for the 2018 low-budget Atlanta production Keys to the City. THR reported that parts of the settlement agreement mirrored treatment Rust crew said they experienced on the New Mexico set before that production shut down on Oct. 21 and then officially wrapped until the investigation is complete.
During the interview, Baldwin also responded to a question about whether he had been in contact with Hutchins’ husband, Matt, and her family. Matt posted a statement to Twitter on Oct. 22 mourning the loss of his wife and asking for privacy before sharing that a scholarship at AFI had been established in her name.
While speaking to the press, Baldwin confirmed he had been in touch with Hutchins’ husband, with whom she had a son, and stated that Matt is “in shock.” He went on to say that they are “in constant contact with him because we’re very worried about his family and his kid.”
During the media scrum — which became tense at a few points though it remained respectful and professional — Baldwin also clarified why, outside of a statement posted to Twitter last week, he has not spoken out more. “I’m not allowed to make any comments,” he said. “I’ve been ordered by the sheriff’s department in Santa Fe. I can’t answer any questions about the investigation.”
He later added that he is “eagerly awaiting” to learn what the sheriff’s investigation has yielded.
The office of attorney Lisa Torraco, who represents assistant director Dave Halls, declined to comment when contacted by The Hollywood Reporter on Friday. In Gutierrez-Reed’s first public statement since the shooting, which she released through her lawyers Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, the Rust armorer said she had “no idea where the live rounds came from.” She also said that “she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that.”
Her lawyers said Gutierrez-Reed had been hired for two positions on the production, which made it more difficult to focus on her job as an armorer, and that she “fought for training, days to maintain weapons and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department.”
Following the fatal shooting of Hutchins, there have been increasing calls for change and even bans around gun use on sets, both from within the industry and from political leaders in New Mexico and California. Only a day after Hutchins’ death, ABC’s The Rookie banned the use of “live” guns on set.
“I do know that an ongoing effort to limit the use of firearms on film sets is something I’m extremely interested in,” Baldwin said when asked about where he stands regarding on-set gun reform. “But remember something that I think is important, and that is how many bullets have been fired on films and TV shows in the last 75 years. This is America. How many bullets have gone off in movies, nearly all of them without incident?” he added.
“It’s urgent that you understand I’m not an expert in this field. So whatever other people decide is the best way to go in terms of protecting people’s safety on film sets, I’m all in favor of, and I will cooperate with that in any way that I can,” he added.
During an Oct. 27 press conference, both Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said the investigation could take several more months. Mendoza also confirmed that it’s still too early to comment on charges, though arrests will be made if warranted. Interviews are still being conducted and the investigation is ongoing.
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