‘Rust’ Script Supervisor Sues Alec Baldwin and Others
A lawsuit filed by the supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, said an injury or death on the set was “a likely result” of the production’s failure to follow safety protocols.,
A script supervisor for the movie “Rust” recalled Wednesday how she had been watching the actor Alec Baldwin practicing a move with a gun on the set in New Mexico last month, holding her script and checking photos on her iPhone to make sure that he was wearing the right shirt and vest, when she heard a loud blast.
“Then, an explosion,” the supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, recalled at a news conference in Los Angeles. “A deafening, loud gunshot. I was stunned. I heard someone moaning and I turned around and my director was falling backward and holding his upper body.”
Then, she said, she turned and saw the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, sink down to the ground. Law enforcement officials have said that Ms. Hutchins, 42, was shot and killed, and the film’s director, Joel Souza, 48, was wounded, when the gun that Mr. Baldwin had been practicing with, which he had been told did not contain any live ammunition, discharged, firing a real bullet that struck them both.
Ms. Mitchell, who said that she ran out of the wooden church set and used the phone in her hand to call 911, announced Wednesday that she had filed a lawsuit against the producers on the film, including Mr. Baldwin, and several members of its crew.
“Alec Baldwin intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of a firearm,” the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, said.
“The fact that live ammunition was allowed on a movie set, that guns and ammunition were left unattended, that the gun in question was handed to Mr. Baldwin by the assistant director who had no business doing so, the fact that safety bulletins were not promulgated or ignored, coupled with the fact that the scene in question did not call for a gun to be fired at all, makes this a case where injury or death was much more than just a possibility — it was a likely result,” the lawsuit said.
What Happened on the Set of “Rust”
- What We Know: The actor Alec Baldwin discharged a gun that was being used as a prop on the set of the movie “Rust,” killing the film’s director of photography and wounding the director.
- Remembering the Victim: Halyna Hutchins was the cinematographer for the movie.
- Safety Measures: Real firearms are routinely used while cameras are rolling. Here is how crews minimize the risks and ensure safety.
- Other Accidents on Set: Deaths and injuries on movie and television sets have occurred with some regularity, this partial list of set accidents shows.
A lawyer for Mr. Baldwin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit was announced at a news conference with Ms. Mitchell’s lawyer, Gloria Allred.
It claims assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm, and requested unspecified damages. It said Ms. Mitchell, who was standing less than four feet from Mr. Baldwin when the revolver discharged, “sustained serious physical trauma and shock and injury to her nervous system and person” and “will in the future be prevented from attending to her usual occupation as a script supervisor.”
The shooting took place Oct. 21 on the set of the film on Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe County, N.M., as Mr. Baldwin prepared to film a close-up of him drawing a .45 revolver from a shoulder holster. According to Ms. Mitchell’s lawsuit, Mr. Baldwin failed to check the gun himself to see if it was loaded before handling it.
They were preparing for three tight camera shots, according to the lawsuit: one of Mr. Baldwin’s eyes, one of a blood stain on his shoulder, and one of his “torso as he reached his hand down to his holster and removed the gun.”
According to court papers filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department, the movie’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, had called out “cold gun” before handing the revolver to Mr. Baldwin, using a term indicating that the gun did not contain live ammunition. A lawyer for the movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, said that Ms. Gutierrez-Reed had loaded the revolver with what she believed to have been dummy rounds, which do not contain gunpowder and cannot be fired.
The lawsuit charges that Mr. Baldwin knew that it was typical protocol for an armorer or prop master to hand a gun to the actor after demonstrating that it is empty — not for the first assistant director to do so — and that Mr. Baldwin failed to follow those rules. It also charges that Ms. Gutierrez-Reed allowed guns and ammunition to be left unattended on the set that day. The lawsuit accuses the production of hiring Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, 24, who had just started out her career as a lead armorer in the film industry, as part of a series of “cost-cutting measures.”
Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, Jason Bowles, has said that his client noticed that day the gun was left unattended for several minutes after she had asked other crew members to watch the firearms and ammunition. Mr. Bowles has defended Ms. Gutierrez’s qualifications for the job, saying that she was dedicated to ensuring safety on set. Previously lawyers for Ms. Gutierrez-Reed said that she had been hired to two positions on the film, “which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer.”
Mr. Halls, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed and Sarah Zachry, the movie’s prop master, are all named as defendants in Ms. Mitchell’s lawsuit. Ms. Zachry and a lawyer for Mr. Halls did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Mr. Bowles said he had not yet reviewed the lawsuit.
Last week, Serge Svetnoy, the film’s gaffer, or chief lighting technician, filed a lawsuit accusing the movie’s producers, Mr. Baldwin and several other crew members of failing to follow appropriate firearm safety protocols that would have prevented the fatal shooting. Mr. Svetnoy said he was standing just six or seven feet away from Mr. Baldwin and said that he was injured by discharge materials from the gun and traumatized by seeing his friend die, trauma that had left him unable to work.