Jae C. Hong / AP
LOS ANGELES – As questions persist over safety protocols on the film set where Alec Baldwin killed a cinematographer with a prop gun he was told was safe, Hollywood pros are calling themselves say baffled by the circumstances and production teams quickly tightened security measures.
Jeffrey Wright, who worked on projects such as the James Bond franchise and the upcoming film The Batman, was acting with a weapon on the set of Westworld when news of Thursday’s New Mexico ranch shooting broke. “We were all pretty shocked. And that influenced what we did from there on,” he said in an interview Sunday at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
“I don’t remember ever being handed a weapon that was not cleared in front of me – ie open chamber, barrel shown to me, light flashed in it inside the barrel to make sure it’s clear, ”Wright said. “Obviously, it was a poorly managed package.”
Andres Leighton / AP
The shooting on the set of the film Rust killed Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injured director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her.
The weapon Baldwin used was one of three that a gun specialist, or “gunsmith,” had placed on a cart outside the building where a scene was rehearsing, court records show. Deputy Warden Dave Halls grabbed a gun from a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating the gun was safe by shouting “cold pistol,” according to court documents. But it was loaded with live bullets, according to records.
Baldwin, 63, best known for his roles in 30 Rock and The hunt in the month of red October and his impression of former President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, called the murder a “tragic accident”.
The Umbrella Academy Actor Justin Min, also in attendance at the Newport Film Festival, said that “it was a very dark time” the last few days on set while filming the indie thriller “Detained”.
“After that – I mean we’ve obviously been careful already, but that’s just another level of precaution,” Min said.
A props maker and licensed pyrotechnician who worked with Halls, the assistant director, on another production said she had raised safety concerns about him in the past.
Maggie Goll said in a statement that she had filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Hulu is in the dark series in 2019 on concerns about Halls’ behavior on set. Goll said in a phone interview on Sunday that Halls ignored safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics and attempted to continue filming after the supervising pyrotechnician passed out on set.
Halls did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment. Rust Movie Productions did not respond to repeated emails requesting comment.
The fatal shooting and previous experiences point to larger security concerns that need to be addressed, Goll said, adding that the safety and well-being of team members are major issues in the ongoing contract negotiations between a union representing film and television workers and a large group of producers.
“This situation is none of Dave Halls’ business.… It is by no means anyone’s fault,” she said. “It’s a bigger conversation about safety on set and what we’re trying to achieve with that culture.”
A vigil for Cackling took place in Southern California on Sunday, where attendees exchanged tearful hugs and speakers echoed calls for increased safety standards.
Actress Rosanna Arquette has joined many in Hollywood to call for a move away from the use of live weapons, whether armed with blanks or bullets.
“Hope that wakes people up. Because there should never be a live around anything in a movie. We’ve had enough CGIs, we’ve had enough – that’s absurd,” a- she declared. “We’re all rocking the heart of the industry on this.”
Actor Ray Liotta agreed with Wright that gun controls are generally extensive.
“They – to my knowledge – are still checking it so you can see,” Liotta said. “They give it to whoever you point the gun at, they give it to the producer, they show whoever is there that it doesn’t work.”
Baldwin, who is a producer on “Rust,” met Hutchins’ husband and 9-year-old son on Saturday at a Santa Fe hotel where the actor had stayed during filming. Baldwin and Hutchins’ husband can be seen kissing in a photo posted by the New York Post.