Here Are the Main Takeaways from Alec Baldwin’s Interview About the “Rust” Tragedy

Baldwin broke his silence in an hour-long interview with ABC News

Alec Baldwin attends DreamWorks Animation's "The Boss Baby: Family Business" premiere at SVA Theatre on June 22, 2021 in New York City.
Alec Baldwin attends DreamWorks Animation's "The Boss Baby: Family Business" premiere at SVA Theatre on June 22, 2021 in New York City.
AFP via Getty Images

Since the awful on-set accident that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Alec Baldwin has remained relatively quiet on social media. Aside from one prepared statement issued in the wake of the incident — in which the gun he was holding, which unbeknownst to him contained a live round, went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza — and a few brief remarks to the paparazzi, the actor has kept out of the public eye. That changed last night, however, when Baldwin sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for his first in-depth interview about the tragedy.

It’s clear from watching the hourlong special that Baldwin is doing damage control, to some extent. He’s clearly looking to dispel the notion that he’s somehow at fault for what happened — either as the person who happened to be holding the gun when it misfired or in his role as a producer on the film — and avoid being found liable in any potential lawsuits about the incident. (There are currently two former crew members who are suing Baldwin and other people involved with the Rust production claiming that “cost-cutting measures came at that expense of safety protocols and that Baldwin recklessly fired his gun when shooting wasn’t even in the script.”) But while his motivation for speaking out is obvious, Baldwin does also seem genuinely grief-stricken over the horrific tragedy; at several times during the interview, he broke down crying, especially when recalling how “loved and admired” Hutchins was.

The investigation into how exactly such a terrible thing could have transpired on a professional film set — including how a live bullet found its way onto the premises and into Baldwin’s gun — is still ongoing, so there’s a lot we don’t yet know. But the Baldwin interview did include several major new revelations; we’ve rounded up those and some of the other major takeaways from his appearance below.

Baldwin wasn’t involved with the hiring of crew members

One of the biggest criticisms of Baldwin following the incident has been that as a producer on the movie, the buck stopped with him, meaning he was responsible for hiring experienced, responsible armorers or prop masters to handle the gun and, later, addressing the movie’s labor disputes and safety issues. But Baldwin went out of his way to explain that his role as a producer didn’t involve any oversight of the budget, day-to-day operations or hiring of crew members.

“I am a purely creative producer,” he said. “My authorities are casting and script, which are actually married to the role of being a lead actor in a film…There are basically two types of producers who are really in charge of production, people who raise the money and the people who spend the money. My consultations or approvals were completely about casting and the script. I don’t hire anybody on the crew.”

When Stephanopoulos pressed him about armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s claim that she was stretched too thin because she was serving as both armorer and prop master on the film, Baldwin responded that he was unaware of that, saying, “I’m not sitting there when I’m getting dressed and getting ready to go do a scene saying, ‘Oh my god, the prop woman seemed very harried today.’”

He never pulled the trigger

Baldwin reiterated that he was told by assistant director Dave Halls that the gun was “cold,” meaning it did not contain any live rounds. (“When he’s saying ‘this is a cold gun,’ what he’s saying to everybody on set is ‘you can relax, the gun is empty,’” he said.) But he also revealed that he never pulled the trigger of the gun; instead, it went off after he removed his hand from the gun’s hammer while rehearsing cocking it during a scene.

“And I cock the gun, I go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?’ … and then I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off. I let go of the hammer of the gun, the gun goes off,” Baldwin recalled, telling Stephanopolous that “I would never point a gun at anyone and then pull the trigger, never.”

He also told the host how he initially thought Hutchins fainted or had a heart attack when she fell, adding that it wasn’t until “probably 45 minutes to an hour later” that he realized there was a live round inside the gun.

“I was told I was handed an empty gun,” he said. “If there were cosmetic rounds, nothing with a charge at all, no flash round, nothing. She goes down. I thought to myself, did she faint? The idea that someone put a live round in the gun was not ever reality.”

He doesn’t feel responsible for what happened

Baldwin says he’s had nightmares about guns going off since the event and hasn’t “slept in weeks.” He’s clearly feeling a lot of things — shock, sadness, perhaps even anger — but when asked by Stephanopoulos whether he also feels any guilt, he responded, “No.”

“Someone is responsible for what happened, and I don’t know who that is, but I know it’s not me,” he said. “Honest to god, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible. And I don’t say that lightly.”

Baldwin also responded to fellow actor George Clooney’s assertion that it’s common practice for every actor to inspect the gun they’re using prior to filming or rehearsing a scene. (On a recent episode of Marc Maron’s podcast, Clooney said, “Every single time I’m handed a gun on set, every time, Marc, they hand me a gun, I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, we show it to the crew. Every single take, you hand it back to the armorer when you’re done, you do it again. Everyone does it. Everybody knows it.”)

“There are a lot of people who felt it necessary to contribute some comment to the situation, which really didn’t help the situation at all,” Baldwin said. “If your protocol is you check the gun every time, well good for you. I probably handled weapons as much as any other actor in films with an average career, shooting and being shot at, and in that time, I had a protocol and it never let me down.” Now, however, he says “I can’t imagine that I’d ever do a movie that had a gun in it ever again.”

He would be “stunned” if Hutchins’s husband doesn’t sue him

Though he doesn’t feel he’s responsible for Hutchins’s death, Baldwin said he fully expects her husband Matthew to file a lawsuit against him and his fellow Rust filmmakers. “Something happened that resulted in his wife’s death,” he explained, adding he’d be “stunned” if Matthew Hutchins doesn’t sue.

He also criticized the two former crew members who have filed suit so far for not waiting until after Matthew Hutchins has already filed his lawsuit — and thus had the first opportunity to obtain a settlement from the film’s limited amount of insurance funds — to file theirs.

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