Actor Alec Baldwin said on Friday he was in shock over his accidental fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set, as police investigated the incident and Hollywood debated the safety of prop guns.
The star of “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” said he was “fully cooperating” with authorities to determine how the incident occurred on the set of his Western movie “Rust.”
“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,” Baldwin wrote on his social media accounts.
“My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna,” added the actor, who was pictured looking distraught and tearful on Thursday.
The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department said the incident occurred on Thursday at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, south of Santa Fe.
Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The film’s director, Joel Souza, was wounded and later released from the hospital, “Rust” actress Frances Fisher said on Twitter.
The sheriff’s department has said two people were shot on the set when Baldwin discharged a prop firearm. It gave no details on Friday about how the accident happened but said no charges had been filed and the investigation remained open. Production on the movie was immediately shut down and the road leading to the set was closed on Friday morning, with security guards turning people away.
Baldwin voluntarily gave a statement about the shooting at the sheriff’s office, the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper said.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) said in a statement that it was “heartbroken and devastated” to learn of the death of Hutchins, who was a member of the union.
Hutchins’ representatives in a statement called her “a ray of light. Always smiling, always hopeful.”
“We hope this tragedy will reveal new lessons for how to better ensure safety for every crew member on set,” the statement added.
Baldwin, 63, is also a co-producer of “Rust,” which is set in 1880s Kansas. He plays the outlaw grandfather of a 13-year-old boy convicted of an accidental killing.
A picture posted by Baldwin on Thursday of himself dressed in cowboy-style attire, with what appeared to be a fake blood stain on his shirt and jacket, was deleted after the accident.
Known for his impersonations of former U.S. President Donald Trump on sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” Baldwin has appeared in more than 100 TV and film comedies and dramas, and won Emmy awards for his role as an egotistical TV network executive in the satire “30 Rock.”
ANOTHER ON-SET SHOOTING
The accident renewed debate about whether certain types of prop guns should be banned on TV and movie sets.
Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died at age 28 after being fatally wounded in 1993 by a prop gun in an on-set accident “The Crow.”
“I don’t understand why we would still use blank rounds in a day when you could simulate them,” indie film director and producer Ben Rock told Reuters on Friday.
Rock, who was not involved in the “Rust” film, noted that visual effects now possible in post-production effectively simulate the muzzle flashes from firing blank rounds, making the dangerous practice no longer necessary for the sake of realism.
Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine, was named one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019. Her last social media 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, was among friends paying tribute to her.
“I’m in disbelief,” wrote Wright. “So young, vibrant, and talented. Such a wonderful soul. My heart goes out to her son and family.”