Alec Baldwin has given his first interview since the tragic accident on the set of his planned Western Rust in which the film’s cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, was shot and killed when a prop gun went off during rehearsals while loaded with a live bullet.
The star, 63, has previously said little about the incident, which took place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, on 21 October and also saw the film’s director Joel Souza, 48, hospitalised. The production has since been shut down, leaving many questions unanswered about whether safety protocols were ignored.
For the ABC News special Alec Baldwin: Unscripted, the actor spoke to the network’s veteran anchor George Stephanopoulos, who trailed the encounter by saying: “I’ve done thousands of interviews in the last 20 years at ABC over the years but this was the most intense I’ve ever experienced. [It was] so raw – as you can imagine, he’s devastated. He was also very candid, he was very forthcoming, he answered every question.”
Visibly emotional throughout and often breaking down in tears, Baldwin discussed the incident in detail with Stephanopoulos as well as its agonising aftermath and the personal toll the ordeal has taken on him.
Here are our five key takeaways from the programme.
1. Alec Baldwin denies pulling the trigger on the pistol that killed Halyna Hutchins
Questioned by Stephanopoulos about the moment he accidentally pulled the trigger on his prop six-shooter while rehearsing a scene in a wooden church, Baldwin corrected the journalist and said: “The trigger wasn’t pulled, I didn’t pull the trigger. I would never point a gun at anyone and point a trigger at them, never.”
He explained that he had cocked the hammer as he had been instructed to and the gun had simply gone off in his hand, fatally wounding Hutchins in the abdomen.
“You’ve had hundreds of hundreds of millions of bullets fired on the sets of films and TV shows, and four or five people were killed,” he said.
“Those deaths are tragic and abhorrent. Believe me, I would do anything in my power to undo what was done. But I don’t know how that bullet arrived in that gun. I don’t know. I’m all for doing anything that would take us to a place where this won’t happen again.”
Baldwin added: “Someone put a live bullet in a gun – a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.”
An investigation into how it got there is currently ongoing.
2. Baldwin says he is haunted by the shooting and suffers from bad dreams
“Is this the worst thing that ever happened to you?” the interviewer asked.
“Yes”, Baldwin answered without hesitation, going on to reveal: “I have dreams about this constantly now. I wake up constantly where guns are going off.
“I haven’t slept for weeks. I’ve really been struggling physically. I’m exhausted from this.”
The star went on to recount his devastating meeting with Hutchin’s young family as he sought to console them in the wake of the disaster.
“I think to myself, this little boy doesn’t have a mother anymore,” Baldwin recalled of the moment he was introduced to her grieving nine-year-old son.
He also recounted a memorable moment with her widower.
“I suppose you and I are going to go through this together,” the men said to one another.
3. Baldwin says he ‘couldn’t give a s***’ if his career is over
Clearly still in a state of shock, the actor said his own family is “all he has” and that he would be nonplussed if the shooting was to prove career-ending for him.
“I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don’t say that lightly,” Baldwin admitted, adding that, “I couldn’t give a s*** about my career anymore.”
That was bitterly ironic, he said, as beforehand, the making of Rust and working with talented up-and-coming professionals like Hutchins had rekindled his passion for filmmaking.
“So help me God, this made me love making movies again,” he said.
4. Baldwin says he found it ‘surreal’ when Donald Trump accused him of carrying out the shooting intentionally
Known for action roles like Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October in his youth, Baldwin has been better known for comedy parts of late, notably on 30 Rock and on Saturday Night Live, where he specialised in playing the 45th president.
Trump, notorious for being unable to laugh at himself, was known to despise Baldwin’s weekly impersonation of his blustering manner and pouting lips during his tenure in the White House and wasted no time in twisting the knife.
“He’s a troubled guy,” Trump told Philadelphia radio interviewer Chris Stigall on 4 November. “There’s something wrong with him. I’ve watched him for years. He gets into fistfights with reporters ... I mean, everything he does, he’s a volatile guy. He’s a nutjob.”
Trump continued: “It’s not even like an actress that’s on set with you, this was a cinematographer, so that means he took the gun and pointed it at a cinematographer, pulled the trigger and she was dead. It’s weird.”
Responding to that, Baldwin told Stephanopoulos: “Just when you think that things can’t get more surreal, here’s the former president of the United States making a comment on this tragic situation.”
5. Baldwin criticises George Clooney over ‘unhelpful’ comments
Asked by Stephanopoulos how he felt about other actors weighing in with their opinions on the matter, Baldwin expressed some understandable irritation.
“You have your protocols, you check the gun every time. Good for you,” he said of George Clooney’s remarks about always personally examining “cold” guns he is handed on set for live ammunition.
The interjection “really didn’t help the situation”, Baldwin said, bristling.
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