Rust film set not 'dangerous' or 'chaotic' despite crew member's death, says Alec Baldwin

9 December 2021, 18:11 | Updated: 9 December 2021, 18:25

Alec Baldwin has claimed the set where Halyna Hutchins was killed was not "dangerous" or "chaotic"
Alec Baldwin has claimed the set where Halyna Hutchins was killed was not "dangerous" or "chaotic". Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The set of Rust was not "chaotic" or "dangerous", actor Alec Baldwin has claimed, despite cinematographer Halyna Hutchins being accidentally shot and killed.

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In an open letter signed by more than 20 members of the cast and crew of Rust, Mr Baldwin denied the production was a "chaotic, dangerous and exploitative workplace" and said the public narrative surrounding the incident was distracting from "what matters most" - the memory of Ms Hutchins.

"We, the undersigned, believe the public narrative surrounding our workplace tragedy to be inadequate and wish to express a more accurate account of our experience," read the letter.

"Rust was professional.

"We do acknowledge that no set is perfect, and like any production, Rust had areas of brilliance and areas that were more challenging.

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"While we stand firmly with our unions and strongly support the fight for better working conditions across our industry, we do not feel that this set was a representation of the kind of conditions our unions are fighting against.

"We do support any and all efforts to make film sets safer to work on for all cast, crew and working animals.

"The descriptions of Rust as a chaotic, dangerous and exploitative workplace are false and distract from what matters the most: the memory of Halyna Hutchins, and the need to find modern alternatives to outdated industry firearm and safety practices."

The letter countered claims the production was "chaotic" and exploited staff, after it was revealed a number of staff had walked out shortly before the shooting in protest at the working conditions.

"While it is true that a few crew members quit prior to the accident, the vast majority of us remained, never feeling the need to protest or quit," said the letter.

"We were enjoying our workplace. Those disgruntled few do not represent the views of all of us."

They described the working hours and wages as "fair and consistent with expectations", and said the reported 12-hour shifts were typical of film sets.

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Referring to the work of the producers, they added: "As a crew, we have no authority as to what happens 'above the line'. That is the work of the producers.

"But, in our experience, the producers and production managers were supportive of our efforts.

"They were on set daily, and engaged with the crew, sharing in the same creative process.

"We felt that we were not just working for them, but with them. They availed themselves during safety meetings to discuss any and all safety or other concerns."

The letter featured signatures from members of the casting, camera, props, special effects, grips, hair, make-up, location and medical teams.

Baldwin shared it to Instagram on Wednesday morning, only commenting "From some of the crew of RUST".

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Hollywood star Baldwin, 63, accidentally shot and killed Hutchins, 42, when a gun he was holding went off during filming for the Western film in New Mexico.

The director of the movie was also wounded, and authorities are investigating what happened.

Production of the film has been halted indefinitely while the investigation takes place.

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