Alec Baldwin interview: everything the actor said about the Halyna Hutchins shooting
"Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me."
Alec Baldwin's first interview since the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October aired in the US Thursday night, with the actor giving an in-depth account of the tragedy and its fallout.
The actor-producer sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for an hourlong exclusive to counter "misconceptions" that have been circulating in the media and online surrounding what happened that day on set of the low budget western movie, Rust.
The 63-year-old, who said he "didn't pull the trigger" on the gun that fatally shot Hutchins, gave an emotional account of the events leading up to the incident and explained he couldn't wait until the investigation had concluded to speak out.
Here are the key moments from the interview.
Stephanopoulos asks if costs were cut at the expense of safety
One of the issues that had circulated in media reports at the time of the shooting was whether the movie's low budget had led to corners being cut in terms of safety. The film's armourer and assistant prop master, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has been subject to much criticism since the incident. Stephanopoulos pointed out in the special that Gutierrez-Reed is just 24 years old and had only been an armourer on one movie prior to Rust.
When Baldwin said he met with her for a gun training session before the shoot, Stephanopoulos asked if he thought she was up to the job. Baldwin said he had assumed she was since she was hired in the first place, and that she appeared capable and responsible in their training sessions.
Through legal representatives, the 24-year-old had said the dual role of armourer and assistant prop master had left her "stretched". Baldwin's response to this was that, he assumes, "everyone who's shooting a lower budget film is stretched". He said he heard no complaints from her, the prop department, or any other crew member, and that the first time he heard of safety concerns on set was when seven people from the camera department resigned over what they described as an unsafe work environment.
Lane Luper, the A-camera first assistant, wrote in his resignation letter that he was concerned about things being played "fast and loose" during gun fight sequences, and that two weapons had already been accidentally discharged on the set. Baldwin said Luper did not address these concerns until the letter, and that on set the only grievance he raised had been wanting better accommodation for his crew.
"The question is were costs being cut at the expense of safety and security?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"In my opinion, no, because I did not observe any safety or security issues at all in the time I was there," Baldwin said.
In a statement, Rust producers said, “Mr. Luper’s allegations around budget and safety are patently false, which is not surprising considering his job was to be a camera operator, and he had absolutely nothing to do with it or knowledge of safety protocols or budgets. As we continue to cooperate with all investigations, we are limited in what we can say. However safety is always the number one priority in our films.”
Baldwin and Hutchins both assumed the gun was empty prior to the shooting
During the interview, Baldwin spoke about his brief time working with Hutchins and how within a short time of knowing her, the Ukranian-born cinematographer's drive, talent and vision was apparent. "Halyna and I had something profound in common," he said. "We both assumed assumed the gun was empty... other than those dummy rounds."
He described how, on the day of the incident (October 21), the pair met to rehearse a scene in which his character would draw a gun on two enemies. He claimed Hutchins had been showing him where to point a weapon when the film's first assistant director, Dave Halls, handed him the revolver and said "this is a cold gun".
"Cold gun" is an industry term that refers to a gun being either empty or loaded with dummy rounds.
Hutchins instructed on where and how to hold the gun, which Baldwin said "ended up being aimed right below her armpit". He said for the shot they wanted, he needed to cock the gun but not fire it.
"I cock the gun," he continued. "I go, 'Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?' And then I let go of the hammer and bang, the gun goes off." He says everyone was horrified and shocked as it was supposed to be empty and not loaded with anything that would have a charge.
The actor said he initially hadn't realised what had happened when Hutchins fell to the floor. "She goes down, I thought to myself, did she faint?" he said. "The notion that there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me 'til probably 45 minutes to an hour later."
He stood over her for about 60 seconds while she "just laid there kind of in shock" before medics arrived and asked him to leave. He said he believes her to have still been conscious at that time. Police came around 15 to 20 minutes later and taped off the area, he said.
Only "hours later" did Baldwin learn of Hutchins' death after being told by police that a "45 calibre slug" had been removed from the shoulder of Rust director, Joel Souza.
When Stephanopoulos then asked if he pulled the trigger, Baldwin replied, "The trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger. I would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger on them, never."
Baldwin discusses speculation on where the live bullet came from and whether he should've checked the gun
Baldwin told Stephanopoulos he felt "a kind of insanity-inducing agony of thinking that someone put a live bullet in the gun". He said he had no idea how it ended up on set and that the only issue to be resolved is where it came from.
The actor was played a clip of George Clooney speaking about handling guns on set, in which he said: "Every single time I'm handed a gun on a set, every time 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 armourer when you're done, you do it again. Everyone does it. Everybody knows it."
"Well, there were 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 in response. "But if your protocols are you check the gun every time, well, good for you. Good for you. You know, I probably handled weapons as much as any other actor in films... and in that time, I had a protocol and it never let me down."
He added: "When that person who was charged with that job handed me the weapon, I trusted them... In the 40 years I've been in this business all the way up until that day, I've never had a problem."
Baldwin says he doesn't feel responsible for the shooting
The 30 Rock star said that he "would go to any lengths to undo what happened" but does not feel guilt or personal responsibility over it. "I feel that... someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me," he told Stephanopoulos.
"Honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible... I might've killed myself if I thought that I was responsible. And I don't say that lightly."
Baldwin said he has "nothing to hide" and has been co-operative with official inquiries. Police investigations into the incident are ongoing, and no arrests have been made.
"I've been told by people in the know... that it is highly unlikely I would be charged with anything criminally," Baldwin said, though he and other Rust producers have had two civil lawsuits filed against them by crew members.
Viewers in Ireland can watch clips of the interview on ABC's YouTube channel.