Six weeks later, Alec Baldwin claims he still has no idea how he ended up shooting and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his ill-fated western Rust.
The actor spoke out for the first time this week—outside of a heated run-in with paparazzi in Vermont—in an exclusive primetime special with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Thursday night. And in the tearful interview, he denied actually pulling the trigger in the deadly shooting and at the same time described the incident as the “worst thing” that has ever happened to him. He said he is taking solace in the fact that he believes he was not “responsible” for Hutchins’ death and that he might have killed himself had he really felt her death was his fault.
Baldwin said he was doing the interview to clear up “misconceptions” around the shooting and that he really felt like he couldn’t “wait” until all of the official law enforcement reports are released months from now. His biggest concern, he said, is that he doesn’t want to “come across like I’m the victim, because we have two victims here,” referring to Hutchins and director Joel Souza, who was injured by the same bullet.
Talking about Hutchins and her work, the actor was quick to break down in tears, something he did repeatedly throughout the hour-long special. He similarly sobbed when he talked about how he “used to love making movies” and Rust made him “love making movies again” before the tragic accident occurred.
Despite complaints from crew members about the safety conditions on set, Baldwin, who also served as a producer on Rust, told Stephanopoulos that he never heard “one word” about those concerns before the shooting. Getting into the nitty-gritty of what happened on the day in question, Baldwin revealed, devastatingly, “This was a completely incidental shot, an angle that may not have ended up in the film at all.”
He explained that the gun went off when he cocked the hammer and then let go—hence the assertion that he never actually pulled the trigger. “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them,” he said. “Never, ever. That was the training I had.”
Now, he says he “can’t imagine” ever doing a movie again that even has a gun in it. “I really can’t,” Baldwin added.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, the film’s assistant director Dave Halls backed up Baldwin’s claim via his attorney. “The entire time Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard, parallel to the barrel, and that he told me since day one he thought it was a misfire,” lawyer Lisa Toracco told Good Morning America. “And until Alec said that it was just really hard to believe. But Dave has told me since the first day I met him that Alec did not pull that trigger.”
“The gun was supposed to be empty,” Baldwin added. “I was told I was handed an empty gun.” When Hutchins collapsed, he said he first thought maybe she had fainted or had a heart attack, because “the idea that someone put a live bullet in the gun” was unthinkable.
Baldwin also addressed the “torrent of criticism” that came his way once the story went public. In response to those who have said actors are never supposed to point a gun directly at anyone on a set, he said, “Unless the person is the cinematographer who is directing me where to point the gun for her camera angle.”
The actor also hit back at George Clooney, who recently told podcaster Marc Maron that it would be “insane” for an actor not to check a prop gun to make sure that it doesn’t contain live rounds.
“Well, there were a lot of people who felt it necessary to contribute some comment to the situation, which really didn’t help the situation at all,” Baldwin said, pointedly. “If your protocol is you’re checking the gun every time, well, good for you. Good for you.”
Despite not wanting to play the victim, Baldwin did complain about how “tough” it has been to have people calling him a “murderer” on social media and elsewhere. That includes former President Donald Trump, who Baldwin famously enraged with his long-running Saturday Night Live impression.
“In my opinion, he had something to do with it,” Trump said of Baldwin, even suggesting that “maybe he loaded” the gun himself.
“He said that I did it deliberately,” Baldwin replied in disbelief. “Just when you think things can’t get any more surreal, here’s the president of the United States making a comment on this tragic situation.”
As for what happens next, Baldwin says he’s been told by people “in the know” that it’s “highly unlikely” he will face any criminal charges related to the shooting. And while he has some “ideas” about how a live round got onto the set in the first place, he said he would be leaving those questions to the investigators.
Now, Baldwin said that he is focusing on his family and doesn’t “give a fuck” about his career anymore. Asked if that career is over, he replied, “It could be.”