‘We’re Not Real Cowboys’: Actors Concern After Alec Baldwin Allegations

THE NEW YORK TIMES – LIFE/STYLE – The news that Alec Baldwin is facing Manslaughter charges in the killing of a cinematographer with a gun that he was told was safe he made the actor Stefano Pasquale think the footage of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem more than a decade ago when he and other actors were given military-style rifles and told to start shooting.

He felt safe, he said, because he trusted the experienced prop professionals and the gunsmith who checked and showed the gun.

Alec Baldwin is facing a wrongful death lawsuit over the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of ‘Rust’. Photography: Marco Sagliocco/AFP

“We are artists – we are not real cowboys, real cops, real superheroes”, Pasquale said. “We are not Jason Bourne. I can’t even imagine an actor having the responsibility of now having to be in charge of on-set safety regarding replica guns. This is crazy.”

Allegations leveled against Baldwin over an on-set shooting have many actors rethinking their experiences with guns on film and debating safety measures and who is primarily responsible for them.

Actor Michael Chiklis, who has starred in television crime films including The commissioner And The shieldhe called the shooting “a tragic incident” and stated that “in hindsight, there is absolutely no reason to use a real firearm on a set again.”

The case, in which New Mexico prosecutors allege Baldwin was responsible for ensuring that the gun he was issued on the set of rust sure, it sparked a debate in the film industry about gun safety and protocols. SAG-AFTRA, a union representing film workers, said the responsibility lies not with actors, but with qualified professionals. Actors and gunsmiths have described different experiences with guns on sets, with some actors exercising a higher level of caution than others.

View from the set of 'Rust,' where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally killed.
View from the set of ‘Rust,’ where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally killed. Photography: Drone Base/Reuters

Baldwin faces two manslaughter charges in the shooting of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchinswho was killed on Oct. 21, 2021, when the revolver he was rehearsing with – which he was told was “cold,” meaning it shouldn’t have contained live ammunition – suddenly went empty.

Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in an interview that she intended to argue in court that Baldwin failed to exercise “due care or caution” when pulling an antique pistol from its holster, of which she it should have been safe. the gun did not contain live ammunition and that he should not point the gun at the cinematographer. She said forensic evidence showed Baldwin had pulled the trigger; Baldwin denied this, saying the gun exploded unexpectedly after he withdrew the hammer and released it.

As the case progresses, film and television industry norms and practices are likely to take center stage. Industry standards dictate that no one should be issued with a firearm without safety training, but that the responsibility for checking firearms before each use rests with the firearms officer or designated firearms officer.

Kirk Acevedo, an actor who has worked extensively with guns in shows like band of brothers and in the movie Beyond the red line, said it was common for a film’s gunsmith, who is responsible for guns and ammunition on set, to open a gun and show the actor that it was unloaded. Acevedo said that while he owned guns and had experience with them, many actors lacked the experience to control firearms themselves. In some cases, he noted, the actors are children.

“It’s not me,” he said, referring to whoever bears the responsibility. “It can’t be me. If you’ve never fired a gun before, how would you know how to do all this? For some people, it’s even difficult to pull the slide back.

Selfie taken by lighting technical director Serge Svetnoy with cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of
Selfie taken by lighting technical director Serge Svetnoy with cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” in Santa Fe, New Mexico Photography: Serge Svetnoj / AFP

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the armory of rust, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, also faces manslaughter charges. One of her attorneys, Jason Bowles, said she would be acquitted.

Baldwin has said in interviews and court filings that expecting a plaintiff to take the lead in checking a gun is not standard practice. His attorney, Luke Nikas, said he too would be acquitted, calling the charge a “terrible mistrial”.

SAG-AFTRA said in a statement that industry guidelines “do not make the performer responsible for control of any firearms.”

Approaches to firearm safety vary on film sets.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who played a NYPD captain in the New York City drama ABC castle and now plays a police officer on the CBS crime drama Eastern New Yorkhe said he had set strict rules for himself since starring in a play in which a non-bullet shot was fired so close to another actor in rehearsal that it nearly damaged the actor’s eardrum.

“It’s okay to piss people off with how much you check and double-check the gun,” Santiago-Hudson said.

He said he made a point of never pointing a gun directly at another person – a sticking point in the case. rust.

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Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer of 'Rust,' dies after a serious accident on the set of the film
Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer of ‘Rust,’ dies after a serious accident on the set of the film Photography: Play Instagram via Reuters

Baldwin said to ABC News after the incident who only pointed the gun at Hutchins because he was told it was “cold” and ordered to.

“Countless people online have told me, ‘You idiot, you never point a gun at anyone,'” Baldwin said in the interview. “Well, unless you’re told it’s empty, and it’s the cinematographer who’s briefing you on the angle we’re going to use.”

Days after the shots, which also injured the director of rustJoel Souza, investigators questioned one of the film’s actors, Jensen Ackles, who told them that he inspects his weapons himself on set.

“I always do my own checkups because it’s a smart thing to do,” Ackles told police, according to interview footage. But he noted that he didn’t expect his colleagues to do the same, telling detectives that if actors were the last line of defense to secure a film set, “he wouldn’t trust 99.9 percent of the people he work.” / TRANSLATION LÍVIA BUELONI GONÇALVES

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