How Rust Shooting Changes How Guy Ritchie Makes His Films

The Rust shooting caused Guy Ritchie to abandon real guns on his sets.

By TeeJay Small | Published

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Sherlock Holmes filmmaker Guy Ritchie has confirmed that he will no longer use real guns on his film sets in the aftermath of the fatal Rust shooting, which fatally wounded cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza back in 2021. According to a recent write-up in The Hollywood Reporter, Ritchie has stated that “The whole game has changed” in regard to his filmmaking process following the tragedy. Guy Ritchie went on to state that his latest film, The Covenant, which just hit theaters, utilizes Airsoft pellet guns in place of actual prop weapons.

The ongoing drama surrounding the tragic Rust shooting seems to be having massive ripple effects across the film industry, reminding everyone that Hollywood filmmaking can be a dangerous business when those in charge put money and scheduling needs over the safety of those on set. After a host of news reports and a police investigation into the allegedly negligent work environment surrounding the filming of the Alec Baldwin-led Western, many other producers and filmmakers have been taking note to ensure they do not become embroiled in a similar scandal.

While making the rounds to promote The Covenant, Guy Ritchie assured audiences that he, too, had taken additional precautions on set after learning about the Rust shooting incident, refusing to use any real guns on set for the foreseeable future. The Covenant is an action drama that features Jake Gyllenhaal as a U.S. Army sergeant who returns to the still-dangerous and war-torn region of Afghanistan to honor a promise made to a colleague. The film promises a great deal of fire and brimstone in several action set-pieces that employ the use of heavy weaponry within the context of the narrative. In order to achieve this effect in the film, Ritchie pivoted from decommissioned firearms to Airsoft pellet guns, which fire small plastic pellets highly unlikely to maim or kill anybody on set, even when fully active.

Jake Gyllenhaal in The Covenant

Though the true nature of the fine details of the Rust shooting tragedy are not fully known at this time, Alec Baldwin has maintained claims that he didn’t pull the gun’s trigger, regarding the incident as an accidental involuntary discharge. If this is true, it goes to show that active firearms should never be used on set, as even the safest environment can call for accidents and unforeseen errors. Regardless, the weapon should never have been loaded with live ammunition for the scene, a fact which saw a number of behind-the-scenes players facing New Mexico judges in order to explain how this egregious safety failure came to be.

The Covenant marks Guy Ritchie’s first film since the Rust shooting incident, leaving the director to remark that the change to plastic arms came as a massive relief for himself and his colleagues. The Aladdin filmmaker continued to explain that the weapons used in The Covenant still look and behave similarly enough to real weapons to serve their purpose, with none of the added danger of live ammunition rounds. With the safety of the cast and crew at stake, it only seems logical that other studios will adopt this practice in order to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.