Dismay and Anger After Halyna Hutchins’ Death on the Set of Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’

The film industry is shocked, dismayed and angry following the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Thursday. She was killed while filming “Rust” when one of the movie’s actors, Alec Baldwin, discharged a prop gun on set.

Director Joel Souza was also injured in the incident and required hospitalization. Frances Fisher, who stars in the movie alongside Baldwin, Jensen Ackles and Travis Fimmel, tweeted late Thursday night that Souza had been discharged.

No one has been arrested in the incident, and no charges have been filed. An investigation is ongoing.

In the meantime, there has been an outpouring of grief and anger on social media, from those who knew and worked with Hutchins as well as the industry at large. Director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who worked with Hutchins on 2020 film “Archenemy,” tweeted: “I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set. She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”

Joe Manganiello, who starred in “Archenemy” wrote: “I’m in shock. I was so lucky to have had Halyna Hutchins as my DP on ‘Archenemy.’ An incredible talent & great person. I can’t believe this could happen in this day and age… gunfire from a prop gun could kill a crew member? What a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to her family.”

Hutchins’ friend, cinematographer Elle Schneider, also tweeted her devastation: “Sick and devastated to hear that my friend and rockstar cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on set today in New Mexico. I don’t have words to describe this tragedy. I want answers. I want her family to somehow find peace among this horrific, horrific loss.”

And ARRI cameras’ Twitter account posted: “We are deeply saddened to learn about the tragic death of our friend, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. You were an exceptional talent and will not be forgotten.
Rest in peace.”

Hutchins’ death, which comes in the wake of discussions about crew safety, also prompted tweets from film industry about the need to ensure safe working practices on set.

IA Stories, an Instagram account that posts anonymous stories of crew mistreatment and endangerment, wrote: “We are so heart broken for Halyna Hutchins, her family and friends and the entire crew of the film ‘Rust’. A full investigation into the incident absolutely needs to be done. All crew should be safe doing our jobs.”

And Philippa Childs, head of the U.K. union Bectu, which represents below-the-line workers, tweeted: “Tragic news and an incident that should never have happened. Lessons must be learned. Condolences to her loved ones from all @bectu.RIP #HalynaHutchins.”

“The Suicide Squad” director James Gunn also weighed in on the tragedy, tweeting: “My greatest fear is that someone will be fatally hurt on one of my sets. I pray this will never happen. My heart goes out to all of those affected by the tragedy today on ‘Rust,’ especially Halyna Hutchins & her family.”

“X-Men: First Class” screenwriter Zack Stentz posted: “For all of us in the film & TV industry this is a dark day. Much love to you all, many condolences to the family & friends of Halyna Hutchins, and I sure hope Joel Souza pulls through.”

The incident also called to mind previous fatalities related to guns on set. The family of Brandon Lee, who died when a bullet in a prop gun was fired at him during production, tweeted: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”

And in 1984, Jon-Erik Hexum died on the set of TV show “Cover Up” when, as a prank, he shot himself in the head with a prop gun containing a blank cartridge. Although the blank did not penetrate his skin, the impact fractured his skull and caused hemorrhaging in his brain. He was rushed to hospital but died six days later, on Oct. 18.

Following news of Hutchins’ death, a woman who claimed her sister worked on the set of “Cover Up” tweeted: “Many years ago Jon-Erik Hexum was killed on set w/ a prop gun. My sister was there & I remember how affected she was. You think you’re in a safe space at work. I didn’t know Halyna Hutchins, but my heart is heavy thinking about this. Love to her family.”

More to come…

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