Alec Baldwin has posted an open letter penned by members of the Rust crew that defended the film’s producers and denied the allegedly “false” depictions of the shoot prior to the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchens.
The letter, which was not “sanctioned or influenced in any way by the producers,” was written because some crew members say they “believe the public narrative surrounding our workplace tragedy to be inadequate and wish to express a more accurate account of our experience.”
“We are hurting from the loss of our friend and colleague, Halyna Hutchins. She was, in many ways, at the heart of our production, and losing her hurt every single one of us. We are hurting from the loss of our togetherness, our spirit, and the loss of our labor. We are hurting for our friends that have been targeted by the public as they themselves grieve,” the letter states.
“Unfortunately, in the film industry, it is common to work on unprofessional or hectic productions to gain experience and credits. Many of us have worked on those types of productions. Rust was not one of them. Rust was professional. We do acknowledge that no set is perfect, and like any production, Rust had areas of brilliance and areas that were more challenging,” it continues.
While set conditions were among the issues focused on by the media in the days after the incident — some members of the crew left the production over alleged long hours and lodging complaints — the open letter claims that the shoot wasn’t “a chaotic, dangerous, and exploitative workplace” it has since been made out to be.
“While it is true that a few crew members quit prior to the accident, the vast majority of us remained, never feeling the need to protest or quit. We were enjoying our workplace. Those disgruntled few do not represent the views of all of us,” the letter states, claiming that rumors about the film set distract from “the memory of Halyna Hutchins, and the need to find modern alternatives to outdated industry firearm and safety practices.”
Among those who signed the open letter were members of the film’s sound department, production designer Bryan Norvelle, Rust’s hairstylist, and other members of the crew not listed on the film’s IMDb page. None of the film’s main actors signed the letter (including Baldwin, also a producer on the film), nor did director Joel Souza, who was also injured when the prop gun fired a “live round” on the New Mexico set.
“The working morale on set was high. Laughter and optimism were common amongst cast and crew. From the director down to the production assistants, all departments worked well together, collaborating and helping each other achieve shared artistic goals,” the letter claims. “We were aware that we were producing good work; capturing beautiful imagery and great performances, and we were proud to be doing so. The work was hard but meaningful.”
The investigation into Hutchins’ death has reportedly centered on the film’s assistant director Dave Halls as well as armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, whose lawyers previously blamed the Rust producers for the film shoot that was “unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings.”
The open letter specifically denies the allegations, stating that “in our experience, the producers and production managers were supportive of our efforts. They were on set daily, and engaged with the crew, sharing in the same creative process. We felt that we were not just working for them, but with them. They availed themselves during safety meetings to discuss any and all safety or other concerns.”
Last week, Baldwin sat down for his first on-camera interview since the incident in which he claimed he did not pull the trigger before the prop gun fired. As a producer on the film, the actor is facing a pair of lawsuits filed by crew members Serge Svetnoy and Mamie Mitchell.
“The gun was supposed to be empty. I was told I was handed an empty gun,” he claimed. “The notion that there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me until probably 45 minutes to an hour later.”
Baldwin added in the interview, “I feel…that someone is responsible for what happened. And I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me. I mean, honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself. And I don’t say that lightly.”