I wrote here about the nearly unfathomable negligence on the part of actor Alec Baldwin that resulted in the death of videographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” (negligence that, weirdly, was pretty much replicated by Kyle Rittenhouse’s prosecutor in the courtroom, with a luckier result). There has been lots of media spin in Baldwin’s defense, but it increasingly looks as though his conduct may have been even worse than originally reported.
George Clooney is a liberal but, I think, neither an idiot nor a bad guy. He participated in a podcast in which he commented on Baldwin’s carelessness from the perspective of a man who has spent much of his life on movie sets:
The veteran Hollywood star told Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast that the death of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was clearly the result of “a lot of stupid mistakes.”
“Maybe they weren’t even using that gun to do target practice, but they had live ammo with dummies,” Clooney raged of “all this s–t we’ve been seeing with all the Alec Baldwin stuff.”
“And that is insane. It’s insane. It’s infuriating,” insisted Clooney.
“First of all, I’ve never heard the term ‘cold gun,’” he said of the doomed safe word that Baldwin believed meant the Colt .45 he fired would not have live bullets.
“I’ve never heard that term. Literally, they’re just talking about stuff I’ve never heard of. It’s just infuriating,” he said.
Clooney, 60, also insisted that even after getting the all clear, every actor then takes additional steps to personally ensure the weapon is not loaded before they actually fire on set.
This is consistent with basic principles of firearms safety.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on a set — every time — they hand me a gun, I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, we show it to the crew,” he told Maron.
“Everyone does it. Everybody knows,” he said.
Clooney insisted that such safety measures were obvious to anyone in movies following previous tragedies over the decades.
The former “ER” star said he was “friends” with Jon-Erik Hexum, who died from a blank in 1984, and “good friends — really good friends — with Brandon Lee,” the 28-year-old son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee who died in a similar on-set shooting while filming “The Crow” in 1993.
“After Brandon died, it really became a very clear thing of, open the gun, look down the barrel, looking in the cylinder, make sure,” he said of industry-wide safety steps that Baldwin appears to have skipped.
But he said that “for the life of me,” he could not understand why the Baldwin-produced flick hired rookie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
“It’s a terrible accident. But a 24-year-old person with that little experience shouldn’t be heading up a department with guns and bullets on it,” he said of the “low-budget film with producers who haven’t produced anything.”
“And so it comes down to, we need to be better at making sure that the heads of our department are … experienced and know what they’re doing,” he said.
“Because this is … I’ve just never, you know — it’s just infuriating,” he said, sounding almost at a loss for words.
That is a totally appropriate reaction from what seems to be an intelligent, responsible guy. But the facts might be even worse than previously realized. A just-filed lawsuit by the film’s script supervisor alleges that Baldwin acted intentionally and the script did not call for him to fire the gun:
Alec Baldwin “intentionally” fired a gun toward cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the “Rust” movie set, disregarding set protocol in the deadly shooting, according to a 30-page lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the film’s script supervisor.
“Alec Baldwin intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired a loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of a firearm,” Mitchell claimed in the lawsuit.
That is a bombshell allegation, if true. There is more to the complaint, mostly familiar:
She also said every safety protocol designed to ensure safety with a firearm on set was ignored, such as the presence of live ammunition on set, and that “actions that were taken” that day “were against all industry norms.”
However, a huge caveat: the script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, wasn’t hit by the bullet and alleges “assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and deliberate infliction of harm,” all of which at first look, if correctly described in the linked news story, are highly dubious claims. And she is represented by Gloria Allred. So take her allegations with a grain of salt the size of the Great Pyramid. But her lawsuit does raise, and may prove to shed light on, the question, still unexplored in the press, of why Baldwin was drawing the revolver and pulling the trigger in the first place.
In any event, however that question is finally answered, the passage of time and whatever new information has come to light only make Baldwin’s negligence even more inexplicable.