FILE PHOTO: A compliance officer from the State of New Mexico waits to enter Bonanza Creek Ranch where on the film set of "Rust" Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded a director when he discharged a prop gun on the movie set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., October 22, 2021. REUTERS/Adria Malcolm/File Photo
December 3, 2021
By Jill Serjeant and Brendan O’Brien
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Alec Baldwin on Thursday denied responsibility for the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of his Western movie “Rust,” saying he would have killed himself if he believed it was his fault.
In an emotional television interview, the actor said he did not pull the trigger on the gun he was holding during a rehearsal, and that he did not think he would be criminally charged in the case.
“I feel someone is responsible for what happened, but I know it isn’t me. I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don’t say that lightly,” Baldwin told ABC television’s George Stephanopoulos in his first public comments about the Oct. 21 shooting on the set near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded when the gun fired off a live bullet.
The incident, including how live ammunition made its way to the set, is still being investigated by authorities in New Mexico. No criminal charges have been filed.
Baldwin had been told the gun was “safe” by crew members in charge of checking weapons.
“I’ve been told by people in the know… that it is highly unlikely I would be charged with anything criminally,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said he “would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them.”
In his first public description of what happened, he said the Colt revolver went off when he was cocking the gun and rehearsing camera angles with Hutchins.
“In this scene, I am going to cock the gun. I said, ‘Do you want to see that?’ And she said yes. So I take the gun and I start to cock the gun. I’m not going to pull the trigger. I said, ‘Did you see that?’ She said, ‘Well just cheat it down and tilt it down a little bit like that’. And I cocked the gun and go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? And I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off.”
Baldwin said he first thought Hutchins had fainted and it wasn’t until hours later that he was told she had died. He said he “couldn’t imagine” ever making a movie that involved guns again.
The actor, best known for TV comedy series “30 Rock,” has been widely criticized for not checking the gun thoroughly himself. But he insisted in the interview that was not the actor’s job.
“When that person who was charged with that job, handed me the weapon, I trusted them… In the 40 years I’ve been in this business all the way up until that day, I’ve never had a problem,” he said.
Two crew members have filed civil lawsuits accusing Baldwin, the producers and others of negligence and lax safety protocols on the set. But Baldwin said he “did not observe any safety or security issues at all in the time I was there.”
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Leslie Adler, Mark Porter, Karishma Singh & Simon Cameron-Moore)