Alec Baldwin says he doesn’t believe he or anyone else will face criminal charges in the fatal shooting last year on the “Rust” movie set – a tragic episode he says “has taken years off” his life and has cost him professionally.
Prosecutors awaiting the investigative report from the Santa Fe Sheriff’s office will weigh evidence in the October 21, 2021 shooting on the film’s Old West set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico to determine whether to pursue charges. Baldwin and crew members were rehearsing a scene in a rustic church when a prop gun in the actor’s hand discharged, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
Investigations into the tragedy have focused on how a live round of ammunition ended up on a movie set.
In his interview with CNN, Baldwin placed responsibility for the tragedy on Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who served as the armorer and props assistant on the film, and assistant director Dave Halls, who handed him the gun. Through their respective attorneys, both Gutierrez Reed and Halls accused Baldwin of deflecting blame onto others.
“Someone put a live bullet in the gun who should have known better,” Baldwin said. “That was [Gutierrez Reed’s] job. Her job was to look at the ammunition and put in the dummy round or the blank round, and there wasn’t supposed to be any live rounds on the set.
“There are two people who didn’t do what they were supposed to do,” he added. “I’m not sitting there saying I want them to, you know, go to prison, or I want their lives to be hell. I don’t want that, but I want everybody to know that those are the two people that are responsible for what happened.”
According to an administrative complaint filed this month by the New Mexico environment department’s occupational health and safety bureau against the production company, Gutierrez Reed told Halls to alert her when Baldwin arrived, so she could perform a safety check on his firearm. The complaint goes on to say that the armorer left the church “expecting Mr. Halls to notify her when Mr. Baldwin arrived.” Instead, the complaint says, Halls handed the revolver directly to Baldwin.
“Why didn’t [Gutierrez Reed] check that bullet? Why didn’t Halls obey her?” Baldwin continued. “Why did he give me the gun? Why didn’t he check? Why did he tell the crew [it was a cold gun]?”
Baldwin also wondered aloud whether Seth Kenney, the movie’s props supplier, accidentally provided live bullets to the “Rust” set. An FBI report released last week said dozens of rounds that were consistent with live ammunition were found on the set.
In January, Gutierrez Reed sued the movie’s gun and ammunition supplier, accusing PDQ Arm and Prop, LLC. and its founder Seth Kenney of violation of trade practices, false and deceptive product labels, and false and material misrepresentations. In the suit, Gutierrez Reed alleges Kenney sold her a cache of dummy ammunition with live rounds mixed in.
Kenney’s attorneys filed an answer last month, denying any allegations and asking the court to dismiss the case.
“We agree with Mr. Baldwin and believe that Seth Kenney as primary ammunition supplier commingled live rounds with blank rounds in the ammunition provided to Rust,” Jason Bowles, attorney for Gutierrez Reed said in a statement to CNN. “We have again asked that the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and FBI test the live rounds for fingerprints and DNA to confirm where the live rounds came from. To date they have not done so on this vital question, which must be answered to uncover the full truth of what happened.”
CNN has reached out to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office for comment.
“We disagree with Mr. Baldwin’s attempts to deflect blame onto others. It is not for him to decide or to apportion blame,” Bowles added.
In a statement, Halls’ attorney said Baldwin is trying to shift blame away from himself.
“Baldwin is pointing the finger at others because the evidence is pointing at him,” said Lisa Torraco. “Halls is not responsible. Everyone needs to stop. People are only pointing the finger at Halls because they don’t want the responsibility of being wrong. Halls is a scapegoat. People need to look at the evidence.”
Baldwin has repeatedly said that he pulled back the gun’s hammer as far as he could without cocking the gun and released the hammer – but did not pull the trigger. A newly released FBI forensics report says the weapon could not be fired during FBI testing of its normal functioning without pulling the trigger while the gun was cocked. The report noted the gun eventually malfunctioned during FBI testing after internal parts fractured, which caused the gun to go off in the cocked position without pulling the trigger.
Luke Nikas, an attorney for the actor told CNN on Sunday the FBI report “is being misconstrued.”
“When Alec Baldwin showed up that tragic day for filming, he had not a single reason in the world to think that there was a live bullet in that gun, in that church, or even on that property,” Nikas told CNN in a subsequent interview on Thursday. “It would be a huge miscarriage of justice [to charge Baldwin].”
Over the last 10 months, Baldwin says he has replayed the events that led up to the fatal shooting. While waiting for Santa Fe County prosecutors to announce the results of their investigation, Baldwin says he took matters into his own hands.
“I hired a private investigator,” he said.
Based on what his private investigator has reported back to him, Baldwin said he does not believe he will be criminally charged.
Baldwin said he believes that Gutierrez Reed and Halls wouldn’t be criminally charged, either.
“I’m pretty confident neither one of them should ever work in a film set again,” he said. “I sincerely believe … [investigators are] going to say that this was an accident. It’s tragic.”
Baldwin added that he does not want to “condemn” Gutierrez Reed.
“I mean maybe it’s the Catholic in me,” Baldwin said. “I have an impulse to say, I don’t want to see anybody suffer. I don’t want to sit there and say you know, go get her and condemn her.”
Filming on “Rust” shut down after the shooting. Baldwin says he went to great lengths to try to complete filming of the movie in an effort to provide potential proceeds to Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their son.
The cinematographer’s widower is suing the film’s production company, and Baldwin is named as one of the respondents.
“People talk about finishing the film to honor Halyna and I’m all for that, that’s great. But more importantly, we wanted to put the money in the kid’s pocket,” Baldwin told CNN, referring to Hutchins’ son.
Baldwin says he’s lost five jobs since the “Rust” shooting and would have quit the film business if it wasn’t for the support of his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, who is expecting their seventh child this fall.
“I got fired from another job yesterday,” he said. “There I was all set to go to a movie, jump on a plane … I’ve been talking with these guys for months and they told me yesterday we don’t want to do the film with you because of this.”
Baldwin also says he’s feared for his safety since former President Donald Trump said publicly that he believed the actor killed Hutchins on purpose.
Baldwin says it’s that type of stress that has “taken years off my life.”
“There is just this torrent of people attacking me who don’t know the facts,” he said, crediting the support of his family with keeping him going.
“If I didn’t have my wife, I don’t know where I would be right now … If I didn’t have her, I probably would have quit, retired, gone off, you know sold everything I owned, got a house in the middle of nowhere and just you know did find something else to do, sell real estate.”
If and when he does return to a movie or TV set, Baldwin says he won’t work with real guns anymore. Filmmakers these days can employ digital effects to create realistic guns onscreen, he says.
Baldwin also says there is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about Hutchins and what happened that day.
“Everybody adored her as a person,” Baldwin said, praising Hutchins’ talent and character.
“That she died, that’s the worst thing of all. Somebody died, and it was avoidable. It was so unnecessary,” he said. “Every day of my life I think about that.”
Correction: This story has been corrected to accurately reflect Seth Kenney’s response to the allegations in the lawsuit brought by Hannah Gutierrez Reed.