Alec Baldwin has revealed for the first time how he fired the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins – saying he released the pistol’s hammer, after being asked to enact a shooting scene by her.
In an interview in which he switched from appearing overwhelmed by emotion to sheer defiance, the 63-year-old actor said he had no idea a live round was in the weapon he was carrying on the set of the film Rust, or as he practised aiming it.
Speaking to ABC News, Baldwin said Hutchins, the film’s director of photography, had told him to point the gun in her direction, somewhere he indicated was “right below her armpit”.
“I said to her, ‘In this scene, I’m going to cock the gun, do you want to see that’,” Baldwin said. He said that Hutchins told him to cock the gun.
“I let go of the hammer and the gun goes off. I never pulled the trigger,” he said
Baldwin told ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos he had seen nothing on the set of the Western being filmed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that led him to think there were any safety issues.
“We both assumed the gun was empty other than those, you know, dummy rounds,” Baldwin said of the 21 October shooting. He said he had been handed the gun by a crew member and informed it was safe.
He rejected the claims of some actors, including George Clooney, who said he himself should have checked the weapon had no rounds in it.
“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them,” he said. “The notion there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me until abut 45 minutes later.”
Baldwin said he did not feel any guilt for what had happened as he did not believe he was responsible. If he had believed that, he would have considered taking his own life, he said.
At the same time, he said it had been very emotional meeting Hutchins’s husband, Matthew.
“He hugged me and he goes ‘I suppose we’re going to go through this together’,’’ Baldwin said.
Referring to the couple’s son, he said: “I think to myself, this little boy doesn’t have a mother anymore ... and there’s nothing we can do to bring her back. I told him, ‘I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to convey to you how sorry I am and willing to do anything I can to cooperate’.”
He said it had taken 20 minutes or more for the emergency services to reach the site of the shooting. During that time, he said he was stunned by what had happened, even as she appeared to be stable.
It was not until he he had interviewed by police officers, more than 90 minutes later, that he was informed she had died.
“She was the loveliest woman, one of the loveliest women I’ve ever worked with and one of the most professional in terms of her demeanour,” he said.
Baldwin said he did not think he would face any charges over the incident. Santa Fe authorities are focusing on how a live bullet, rather than a blank, ended up in the gun and how live rounds got onto the set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch.
Asked about comments made by former President Donald Trump, who Baldwin impersonated on Saturday Night Live and whose policies and behaviour he has criticised, he said: “Just when you thought things could not get more surreal, here’s the former president of the United States making a comment on this tragic situation.”
He said he had dreams about what had happened.
“I have dreams about this constantly now. I wake up constantly where guns are going off,” he said. “I haven’t slept for weeks. I’ve really been struggling physically. I’m exhausted from this.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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