Alec Baldwin mourns fatal shooting on Rust movie set: 'There are no words'

Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza "were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin," according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's office.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Halyna Hutchins

Filmmaker Halyna Hutchins at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

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Actor Alec Baldwin has released a statement addressing the death of a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of his western movie Rust on Thursday.  

Halyna Hutchins, the 42-year-old director of photography, and Joel Souza, the movie's 48-year-old director, "were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin," according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's office. Hutchins died after being transported by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. Souza was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, where he underwent treatment and has reportedly since been released

"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 said in a statement posted to Twitter on Friday. 

No arrests or charges have been filed in connection with the incident, according to the sheriff's office, which said the incident remains under an "open and active" investigation. 

"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," Baldwin said in Friday's statement. "My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."

The prop gun that killed Hutchins and wounded Souza contained a "live single round," IATSE Local 44, the union that covers prop masters, said in an email to its members. In the email, cited by Variety, IATSE Local 44 Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Pawluc said the event was "an accidental weapons discharge." The union said the prop master on Rust wasn't a member of Local 44. 

On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Rust camera crew walked off the set just hours before the shooting to protest working conditions. 

"The camera operators and their assistants were frustrated by the conditions surrounding the low-budget film, including complaints of long hours and getting their paychecks, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment," the publication reported. 

Hutchins had worked on many short films, as well as 2020 mystery thriller Archenemy starring Joe Manganiello. In 2019, American Cinematographer magazine named her one of its rising stars.

"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," Rust Movie Productions, the production company behind the independent feature, said in a statement Thursday night.

"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."

Set in 1880s Kansas, Rust follows a 13-year-old boy who goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather Harland Rust, played by Baldwin, after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher. Baldwin is a co-producer on the western, which Souza wrote and directs. It also stars Jensen Ackles, Frances Fisher, Brady Noon and Travis Fimmel.