ABC’s ‘The Rookie’ Bans “Live” Guns on Set

The change, effective Friday, comes in the wake of the fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's 'Rust.'

ABC cop drama The Rookie is banning “live” weapons on its set, effective immediately, following the fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust.

Sources say showrunner Alexi Hawley informed ABC executives that production would no longer be using quarter or half loads while filming the Nathan Fillion-led drama. The series has, over the past two seasons, primarily used CGI to portray muzzle flashes but occasionally used “live” weapons on “big, outside set pieces.” That policy ended Friday as Hawley sent a memo to staff, exclusively obtained by THR, outlining the changes designed to improve the safety on the set of the Entertainment One and ABC Signature series.

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“As of today, it is now policy on The Rookie that all gunfire on set will be with Air Soft guns with CG muzzle flashes added in post,” Hawley wrote in the memo (read it in full, below). “There will be no more ‘live’ weapons on the show. The safety of our cast and crew is too important. Any risk is too much risk.”

Airsoft guns are effectively BB guns that use a plastic pellet instead of a metal BB. They’re often used on film and TV sets because they look almost identical to other guns.

Hawley notes that The Rookie had used a mix of guns with mostly quarter loads or Airsoft guns with CGI muzzle flashes added in postproduction. As Emmy-winning VFX artist Nick Sinnott (What Lies West) noted on Twitter late Thursday, adding muzzle flashes in post is “as good as the real deal” and “the easiest thing” to add — especially considering “video can’t even capture them correctly. … [There’s] zero reason to use live rounds.”

The change comes a day after director of photography Halyna Hutchins, 42, died after being injured on the set of Western Rust when a gun was discharged by star-producer Alec Baldwin. Baldwin on Friday expressed “shock and sadness” over the incident in which the gun he was handling misfired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

Baldwin is cooperating in the investigation by Santa Fe officials. No charges have been filed. Production on the film has been suspended indefinitely. Local authorities are investigating how and what kind of projectile was discharged. The production company behind the movie said in a statement that the incident, which is being considered an accident, involved the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.

Similar accidents involving firearms on Hollywood sets are rare. In 1993, Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed by another actor who fired a revolver that was not prepared correctly on the set of The Crow.

It’s unclear if other film and TV productions, studios, streamers and guilds will follow The Rookie and ban the use of “live” weapons on sets in the wake of the Rust tragedy.

Here’s Hawley’s memo to the cast and crew of The Rookie:

The tragic events in New Mexico yesterday have shaken us all, and our hearts go out to the friends and family of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza.

As of today, it is now policy on The Rookie that all gunfire on set will be Air Soft guns with CG muzzle flashes added in post. There will be no more “live” weapons on the show. The safety our cast and crew is too important. Any risk is too much risk.

As always, if you ever feel unsafe or witness anything that concerns you, please don’t hesitate to report it.

My door is always open.

Alexi Hawley