23 Oct 2021

Alec Baldwin says heart is 'broken' after fatal movie set shooting; police investigating

12:23 pm on 23 October 2021

Actor Alec Baldwin has expressed his shock and sadness after fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a prop gun on a New Mexico film set.

 file photo taken on June 22, 2021 US actor Alec Baldwin

The sheriff's office said no charges had been filed against Alec Baldwin and the investigation remains open. Photo: AFP

He tweeted that he was in touch with her husband and had offered support.

"My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna," he wrote.

"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours."

The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon on the set of Rust at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location south of Santa Fe, according to the Santa Fe Sheriff's Department.

Hutchins, 42, was transported by helicopter to the University of Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

A Hollywood movie workers' union said the prop gun which Baldwin used contained a single live round.

Baldwin, 63, is a co-producer of Rust, a Western movie set in 1880s Kansas, and also plays the eponymous character who is an outlaw grandfather of a 13-year-old boy convicted of an accidental killing.

The sheriff's office said on Friday that no charges had been filed and the investigation remains open. Baldwin voluntarily gave a statement about the shooting at the sheriff's office, the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported.

The film's director, Joel Souza, was wounded and taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Actress Frances Fisher, who is co-starring in the movie, said on Twitter: "Souza texted me that he's out of hospital."

Baldwin was seen "distraught and in tears" outside the sheriff's department on Thursday, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on set while filming the movie "Rust" at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 21, 2021. The film's star and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm that hit Hutchins and Souza.

Locked gates outside the Bonanza Creek Range near Santa Fe where filming on Rust was taking place. Photo: 2021 Getty Images via AFP

First responders at Santa Fe County Fire Department on Thursday night helped organize helicopter flights out, radio traffic reviewed by Reuters showed.

"We have a - two people have been shot accidentally," one responder, whom Reuters was unable to immediately identify, said. The fire department did not immediately respond to a request for further information.

Known for his impersonations of former U.S. President Donald Trump on NBC's comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, Baldwin is a versatile actor who has starred in both comedies and dramas over a long career in film and television. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in 1993's The Cooler and has won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

Production of Rust has been halted for an "undetermined period," several news outlets quoted the film's production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, as saying. An e-mail to an address for the film production went unanswered.

The road leading to the set location was closed on Friday morning, with security guards turning people away.

Another on-set shooting

The shooting evoked memories of an on-set accident in 1993 when US actor Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died at age 28 after being fatally wounded by a prop gun while filming The Crow.

"Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on 'Rust'. No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period," said a tweet from Lee's account, which is handled by his sister.

The accident renewed debate about whether certain types of prop guns should be banned.

"This suggestion doesn't help any of them, but it's time to stop being macho about blanks and end the practice," Ben Rockula, a director, said on Twitter.

Earlier on Thursday, Baldwin had posted a picture of himself on Instagram from the set dressed in cowboy-style attire, with what appeared to be a fake blood stain on his shirt and jacket.

The post was deleted on Thursday night.

Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, once worked as an investigative reporter in Europe, her website said.

She graduated from the American Film Institute in 2015 and was selected as one of American Cinematographer's Rising Stars of 2019, her website said.

She described herself as a "Restless Dreamer" and an "Adrenaline junkie" on her Instagram page.

Her last post, two days ago, shows her grinning under a wide-brimmed hat as she rides a horse. "One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off:)" she captioned the video.

April Wright, a writer, director and producer, paid tribute to her on Facebook.

"I'm in disbelief," wrote Wright. "So young, vibrant, and talented. Such a wonderful soul. My heart goes out to her son and family."

Representatives for Hutchins did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"I'm so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set," director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who worked with Hutchins on the 2020 movie "Archenemy", wrote on Twitter.

"She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film."

Souza, 48, directed, wrote and produced Crown Vic, a 2019 action film also co-produced by Baldwin.

The New Mexico Film Office, which promotes the state as a location for movies and television, declined to comment.

The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents 160,000 actors and other media professionals, said it would investigate the incident "to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again."

- Reuters / BBC