A terrible incident on the set of the independent western Rust has left the movie’s cinematographer dead. According to a statement from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s department, “a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin” who is both the star and producer of Rust, and as a result “two individuals were shot on the set”: Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza. Both were transported via helicopter to University of New Mexico Hospital. Per one of the other actors in the film, Souza has already been treated and released. Tragically, Hutchins died from her injuries. She was only 42 years old.
The statement concludes by saying the “investigation remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.” An official told Deadline that Baldwin “was questioned by investigators and released.”
Thus far, there have been no additional details about how the incident occurred. According to Variety, Rust stars Baldwin as an outlaw “whose 13-year-old grandson is convicted of an accidental murder.” Rust tries to break his grandson out of prison, and they bond as they’re pursued by a U.S. Marshal, played by Jensen Ackles. The film was being shot at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico, a spot that’s served as the shooting location for productions like The Man From Laramie, 3:10 to Yuma, Lonesome Dove, Silverado, and Cowboys and Aliens.
Although the specifics of the Rust shooting are unknown at this time, this is not the first time someone has died on a movie set because of an incident involving a gun. The most famous previous example may be in 1994, when actor Brandon Lee was killed on the set of The Crow. In that instance, a prop gun was loaded with dummy cartridges. During the filming of one scene, one dummy cartridge wound up lodged in the barrel. Later, the same gun was loaded with blanks and fired again, which sent the dummy round out of the barrel, striking Lee in the torso. He later died from his injuries. That incidental was ultimately ruled an accident.
Halyna Hutchins was an up-and-coming talent in the world of film; she was named a “Rising Star of Cinematography” in 2019 by American Cinematographer. Trained as a journalist, she moved from her home in the Ukraine to Los Angeles, where she studied at the American Film Institute Conservatory. Since then, she’s been the D.P. on numerous shorts as well as features like Archenemy. Our thoughts are with her friends and family during this terrible time.
UPDATE: Alec Baldwin shared a statement about the incident on his Twitter account, writing “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. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and love Halyna.”
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