US authorities are investigating after confirming a prop firearm discharged by actor Alec Baldwin, while producing and starring in a western movie, killed the cinematographer and wounded the director.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s officials said Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer on the movie Rust, and director Joel Souza were shot today on the rustic film set in the desert on the southern outskirts of Santa Fe.
The prop firearm was discharged by actor and producer Baldwin, 63, according to the Santa Fe County Sherriff’s Office.
Hutchins was transported to the hospital via helicopter and pronounced dead by medical personnel at the University of New Mexico Hospital.
The other victim, 48-year-old director Souza, was transported to Christus St Vincent’s Hospital by ambulance for care.
Details on his condition were not released.
A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks, though a charge without a metal projectile is unlikely to kill at a moderate distance.
“According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged,” a statement from authorities said.
“Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.”
Police said the incident happened today at approximately 1.50pm local time (6.50am AEDT).
Rust, from director Souza, is a western film set in the 1880s that stars Baldwin, Australian actor Travis Fimmel and Jensen Ackles.
Email requests for comment sent to the film’s production company and a representative for Baldwin were not immediately returned.
The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation “remains open and active” and no charges have been filed.
Baldwin posted a photo from the set just hours before the shooting, dressed in a western costume. It has since been deleted.
“Back to in person at the office, Blimey it’s exhausting,” he wrote.
According to Hutchins’ website, she was originally from Ukraine and lived in Los Angeles.
She was named as one of American Cinematographer‘s rising stars of 2019 and described herself on Instagram as “Restless Dreamer. Adrenaline junkie.”
She posted a video of herself on a horse two days ago, saying: “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off.”
She also recently shared photo of the film’s cast and crew as well as photos of the film set.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Baldwin was seen outside the sheriff’s office in tears, but attempts to get comment from him were unsuccessful.
The International Cinematographers Guild confirmed the woman fatally shot was Hutchins.
“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine said in a statement.
Hutchins, 42, was director of photography on the 2020 action film Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello.
She was a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute.
“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” Archenemy director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter.
“She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”
Manganiello called her “an incredible talent” and “a great person” on his Instagram account.
Baldwin was a producer on Souza’s 2019 film, Crown Vic, which starred Thomas Jane as a veteran Los Angeles police officer on a manhunt for two violent bank robbers.
Souza’s first credited film, 2010’s Hanna’s Gold, was a treasure hunt adventure featuring Luke Perry.
Deputies responded about 2pm to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls came in of a person being shot on set, sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said.
He said detectives were investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.
“This investigation remains open and active,” Mr Rios said in a statement.
“No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”
Rios said detectives were investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.
Filming for Rust was set to continue into early November, according to a news release from the New Mexico Film Office.
The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks western News of the World.
The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) website.
The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather, played by Baldwin, after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.
In 1993, Brandon Lee, 28, son of the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee, died after being hit by a .44-calibre slug while filming a death scene for the movie The Crow.
The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.
A Twitter account run by Lee’s sister Shannon said: “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.”
In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series Cover Up.