Alec Baldwin was holding what was supposed to be a prop gun on Oct. 21 when it unexpectedly discharged on the set of his movie Rust. The live ammunition killed 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured 48-year-old director Joel Souza. Roughly two months later, 63-year-old Baldwin did his first formal interview since the tragedy in hopes of dispelling some of the rumors about what happened.
In the hour-long interview, which aired on ABC on Dec. 2, Baldwin told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he “didn’t pull the trigger” on the firearm that killed Hutchins and that he’s still not sure how a live bullet made it onto the set. “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never,” he said. “Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.”
So many questions about what happened that day remain unanswered, including how the live rounds got there and who is responsible. Baldwin addressed some of the public’s most burning questions in the tell-all interview, like whether or not he thought the set was sabotaged and if he noticed any red flags. Below are some of the highlights from the ABC special, which is now available to stream on Hulu.
Baldwin didn’t know Hutchins before filming Rust
“I knew nothing about her,” Baldwin said when asked if he and Hutchins had ever worked together before. But immediately, the It’s Complicated star could tell that the cinematographer was overwhelmingly adored. “She was someone who was loved by everyone who worked with her, and liked by everyone, and admired,” Baldwin said before breaking down in tears.
“When I met her, I knew she had that spark,” the actor continued, adding that Hutchins was “very focused on her craft.” “She had that intensity,” he said. “She knew that the clock was the enemy and we had to move forward.” Later on in the interview, Baldwin said that Hutchins was “one of the loveliest women” he’s worked with and “one of the most professional in terms of her demeanor.”
Baldwin wasn’t aware of any safety concerns on set
The Still Alice actor told Stephanopoulos that he spent “an hour and a half shooting the pistol” with Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was the armorer on set. When asked if he witnessed any red flags while working with Hannah, Baldwin said that everything seemed safe. In fact, he didn’t know that anyone had any safety concerns until camera assistant Lane Luper quit one day before the fatal shooting.
Per NBC News, Luper told production that he had many concerns while working on the set, including discontinued safety meetings and multiple accidental discharges. “So far there have been 2 accidental weapons discharges and 1 accidental SFX explosives that have gone off around the crew between takes,” he reportedly wrote in his resignation letter. “To be clear there are NO safety meetings these days.”
Hutchins told Baldwin how to hold the gun
Elsewhere in the interview, Baldwin revealed that it was Hutchins who was “guiding” him on how to hold the firearm right before it misfired. “Everything is at her direction,” he recalled, explaining that he was holding the gun “right where she told me to hold it.” When he asked if she wanted him to cock the gun, she said yes and he obliged. “I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off,” he said. “The trigger wasn’t pulled. I never pulled the trigger.”
The crew suspected Hutchins had a heart attack
When Hutchins and Souza were shot, Baldwin said that everyone on set was “shocked” and “horrified.” But at that point, no one knew what happened. “The gun was supposed to be empty,” Baldwin said. “I was told it was an empty gun.” That’s why as soon as Hutchins went down, he wondered if she had fainted.
“The notion that there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me until 45 mins to an hour later,” Baldwin continued. “No one understood. Did she have a heart attack?” He said that Hutchins was in shock but conscious, and Souza was “screaming really loudly.” After standing over Hutchins for about 60 seconds, the actor said that everyone was forced to leave the building.
Baldwin didn’t think anyone would die
Baldwin didn’t know that Hutchins died until he went to the police station hours later. “It was like seeing aliens,” he said. “It was unacceptable, the idea that it was a live round.” He also said that no one knew exactly what happened until the officer showed photos of the 45-caliber bullet that was recovered from Souza’s arm.
The news was even more shocking because, according to Baldwin, everyone on set was told that Hutchins was in stable condition for about 30 to 40 minutes after the incident. And much like he couldn’t believe that the gun contained live ammunition, he also struggled to believe that this “was going to be a fatal accident.”
Baldwin slammed celebrities for unhelpful commentary
“There were a lot of people who felt it necessary to contribute some comment to the situation,” Baldwin said, referring to the celebrities who weighed in with heavy criticism. For example, during a recent episode of the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast, George Clooney said that he couldn’t understand why Baldwin didn’t check the gun between takes.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on set, I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, we show it to the crew,” Clooney said, per CNN. “Every single take you hand it back to the armorer when you’re done, and you do it again.” Instead, Baldwin chose to trust the armorer on set, which is something he said he’s always done.
“If your protocol is to check the gun every time, good for you,” Baldwin said in response to Clooney’s remarks. But the Midnight Sky actor wasn’t the only one who gave his two cents. “The former president of the United States said that I’m a wacko and probably did this on purpose,” Baldwin said, referring to Donald Trump. “He said that I did it deliberately.”
The Beetlejuice star said that the criticism has been very hard to handle. “I’ve had all these people say ‘you’re a murder,’ and ‘you didn’t do this,’ and ‘you didn’t do that,’” he said. But ultimately, his responsibility was to listen to the armorer. “When that person with that job handed me the gun, I trusted them,” he said, revealing that he’ll likely never do a movie that has a gun in it again.
Baldwin doesn’t believe the set was sabotaged
In early November, Gutierrez’s lawyer suggested that someone deliberately put a live round into the gun. “Do I believe that the set was sabotaged? No, because I don’t know how that would’ve happened,” Baldwin said, telling Stephanopoulos that he believes it was an accident. “When he made those claims, I thought, ‘That’s a big swing. That’s an enormous charge to make.’”
Baldwin thinks his career might be over
“I’m not somebody who has a lot of vivid dreams, but I have dreams about this constantly,” Baldwin said, explaining that the tragedy keeps him up at night. He also said that at this moment, his family is all he has and his career may very well be over. “I couldn’t give a sh*t about my career anymore,” he confessed. “Do I want to work much more after this? Is it worth it?”
Baldwin doesn’t feel guilty
The actor feels sad and angry about what occurred on set that day, but he doesn’t feel guilty. “I feel that someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who that is, but it’s not me,” he said. “I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don’t say that lightly.”