A tragedy unfolded yesterday on the Santa Fe, New Mexico set of the new Western film Rust after actor and one of the producer’s for the film, Alec Baldwin, discharged what was thought to be a harmless prop gun. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the star of such films as The Hunt for Red October and The Departed fired a prop gun on the set, accidentally killing the film’s 42 year old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the film’s director, 48 year Joel Souza who was rushed by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center where he was later discharged, according to one of the film’s stars Frances Fisher and later confirmed by Souza’s reps.
A press release from the Rust production team said, in part: “The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones. We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”
Hutchins was a noted and respected director of photography, having trained her skilled eye on such features Archenemy and The Mad Hatter during her all too brief life and career.
A statement from the Santa Fe PD offered some slight insight into the immediate aftermath of the sad chain of events: “Mr. Baldwin was questioned by investigators and released. No arrests or charges have been filed.”
For those of us who have been around the industry block for a while, yesterday’s tragedy stirs up sad memories of a similar incident that happened during the 1993 production of the Alex Proyas film The Crow when rising star Brandon Lee was killed by an improperly loaded prop gun from a fellow actor while on set and filming. The Lee family issued their own salient words about this latest tragedy which again involves prop guns: “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.”
Vents offers our condolences to the Hutchins family and extends our wishes for quick recovery to Joel Souza. We also wish only comfort and understanding to Alec Baldwin and all of the cast and crew of the film Rust during this painful time.