Is Alec Baldwin’s Rust Movie In Trouble?

Alec Baldwin's Rust film is back in production, but some crew members refuse to return to the set due to trauma.

By Jennifer Asencio | Published

Production on the Alec Baldwin movie Rust will be resuming in January, but not everyone on the crew will be returning, according to Variety. The set of the Western was the site of the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021. The settlement that allows production to resume also resulted in a wrongful death payment by the producers to Hutchins’ spouse, Matthew.

Other lawsuits surrounding the movie are still in progress, including investigations into safety violations and industry firearms rules. It is still possible that criminal charges could be filed. Three civil lawsuits are also pending in the case.

The circumstances of the case surround a prop gun that Alec Baldwin fired while preparing for a scene during the filming of Rust. The bullet hit Halyna Hutchins in the chest and also hit director Joel Souza in the shoulder. Hutchins was flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she was pronounced dead.

The center of the investigation has been around whether or not the firearm had been properly cleared for safety prior to use. Other questions involve the distance between Alec Baldwin and the other two, and the lack of safety equipment worn by Souza and Hutchins. The lawsuits, including the wrongful death suit, allege that production cut corners to save money.

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The set of the movie had numerous complaints prior to the shooting, and a walk-out was planned for the morning of the shooting. Rumors of on-set complications included a lack of medics on-scene during set construction, long commutes that left them little sleep, and a lack of instruction on firearm protocols. The office of the district attorney of Santa Fe is also continuing its investigation, with possible criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and the production of Rust.

Several crew members asked not to be identified in interviews due to non-disclosure agreements. Most of those were unwilling to return to the set, citing trauma as the primary reason. Some crew members have been haunted by the events of the accidental shooting and fear that the emotional turmoil would affect further participation in the film.

Other crew members take heart from the participation of widower Matthew Hutchins, who joined the project as an executive producer. Returning crew members have said that they are honoring Halyna Hutchins by finishing the movie, as she would have wanted.

Prior to the shooting, Alec Baldwin was very enthusiastic about Rust. The movie is a Western about an outlaw who rescues his 13-year-old orphaned grandson from a death sentence after the youth shoots someone while protecting his younger brother. Alec Baldwin plays the grandfather, Travis Fimmel co-stars as the bounty hunter seeking the fugitive boy, and Brady Noon plays the young man.

Part of the controversy is that Alec Baldwin did not seem to be taking responsibility for his role in the Rust shooting. In interviews, he insisted that he did not pull the trigger but ballistics investigations show that the trigger would have had to have been pulled for the bullet to be fired. The actor has shown remorse for the shooting, but the settlement with Matthew Hutchins is the first hint of admitting his more direct participation.

However, the settlement with Matthew Hutchins also speaks to some kind of accountability being taken, as the widower is now directly involved in the project. Whether criminal negligence was involved is still under investigation, and the story will unfold as it works toward a conclusion. No matter who was involved, the shadow of Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death will hang over Alec Baldwin and Rust forever.