The death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is an unthinkable tragedy, one that never should’ve happened. The unfortunate reality is that mistakes in most jobs do not wind up costing people their lives… however in this instance, a mistake on the job had grave consequences.
Of course, the immediate reaction is usually some form of sadness combined with anger, and the innate desire to place blame. Whose fault is it?
While a number of people are more than likely at fault, and a more rigorous system of checks definitely should’ve been in place, a large amount of blame has to fall on the shoulders of the head armorer on the set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed.
The rookie armorer had only one other gig prior to her job on the set of Rust, a job she was admittedly hesitant to take due to her lack of experience. That lack of experience manifested in a number of on-set incidents with Nicolas Cage ultimately storming off the set over the unsafe handling of weapons.
“Make an announcement, you just blew my fucking eardrums out.”
He then added:
“After the second round, I was pissed off. We were moving too fast. She’s a rookie.”
Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed by Alec Baldwin, who fired a gun that was chambered with at least one live round. How it got there is still up for debate… as Hannah Gutierrez-Reed told investigators that no live ammunition is “ever kept on set.”
A number of people handled the gun that Baldwin fired, including assistant director David Halls and Sarah Zachry, the prop master on the set. However, up until now, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has remained silent.
According to Variety, Hannah released the following statement via her lawyer, and she wants to make it clear… this is not her fault.
“First Hannah would like to extend her deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Halyna. She was an inspirational woman in film who Hannah looked up to.
She also offers her thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery to Joel. Hannah is devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired.
She would like to address some untruths that have been told to the media, which have falsely portrayed her and slandered her. Safety is Hannah’s number one priority on set. Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from.
Hannah and the prop master gained control over the guns and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that. They were locked up every night and at lunch and there’s no way a single one of them was unaccounted for or being shot by crew members.
Hannah still, to this day, has never had an accidental discharge. The first one on this set was the prop master and the second was a stunt man after Hannah informed him his gun was hot with blanks.
Hannah was hired on two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer. She fought for training, days to maintain weapons, and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department.
The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah.
Hannah and her legal team will address more of these rumors and the whole incident in an upcoming statement next week.”
Sounds like a pretty hardline stance for someone who was in charge of the weapons on set…