In his first lengthy interview since the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie “Rust,” actor Alec Baldwin said he never pulled the trigger on the gun he was holding that fired the fatal shot, in comments released Wednesday.
“The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger,” Baldwin told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during an hour-long special set to air Thursday night at 8 p.m. and later Thursday on Hulu.
In a promo for the interview released Wednesday by ABC, an emotional Baldwin added, “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger, never.”
Asked how a real bullet could have gotten onto the set, Baldwin said, “Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.”
Asked if the tragedy was the worst thing that’s happened to him, Baldwin quickly replied, “Yes. Because I think back and I think of `what could I have done?”’
Choking up several times during the two-minute promo, Baldwin also described Hutchins as “someone who was beloved by everyone who worked (her) and liked by everyone who worked with (her) and admired.”
“Even now, I find it hard to believe,” Baldwin said. “It just doesn’t seem real to me.”
He had previously described the shooting as a “one-in-a-trillion episode.”
Baldwin has also tweeted, “I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family.”
In October, Baldwin gave brief comments to reporters in a roadside interview, but shed no light on what may have happened.
“I’m not allowed to make any comments because it’s an ongoing case,” he said. “I’ve been ordered by the sheriff’s department in Santa Fe. I can’t answer any questions about the investigation.”
Hutchins, 42, was killed on Oct. 21 while Baldwin, a producer and star of “Rust,” was helping to prepare camera angles for a scene on the film’s set near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The gun Baldwin was holding was supposed to contain only blank rounds but instead discharged a lead bullet that struck Hutchins in the chest, then lodged in the shoulder of director Joel Souza, 48.
New Mexico authorities are still investigating how a live bullet got in the gun — and as recently as Tuesday, a Santa Fe judge issued a warrant that allowed police to search the office of PDQ Arm & Prop LLC and its proprietor, Seth Kenney, the film’s weapons supplier.
Reports Tuesday said that Kenney told investigators that reloaded ammunition — live rounds made by taking empty casings and installing a primer, gunpowder and a bullet — may have ended up on the set along with the dummy rounds and blanks he had provided.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kenney told a detective on Oct. 29 that “he may know where the live rounds came from.”
He also told police he had received “reloaded ammunition” from a friend whose name was not released with the logo of Starline Brass, the company whose ammunition components he used for the film.
Tell Reed, the father of “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, told a detective on Nov. 15 that he had worked on a previous production with Kenney in August or September, The Times reported. Reed, who has worked on Hollywood movies as a weapons expert, said they had provided training for the actors at a firing range, the affidavit stated.
Reed told investigators that Kenney asked him to bring live ammunition and that Kenney returned to New Mexico with the “ammo can” that Reed brought him and it still contained .45-caliber Colt ammunition.
“Tell stated this ammunition may match the ammunition found on the set of `Rust,”’ according to an affidavit.
Gutierrez-Reed had previously told investigators she had difficulty loading the gun that Baldwin was holding.
“Hannah stated there was one round that wouldn’t go in, so after lunch she took the cleaner, cleaned it out, and put another round in, which brought the total to six rounds loaded into the weapon,” Sheriff’s Detective Alexandria Hancock wrote in an affidavit, The Times reported.
The fatal shooting has led to a criminal investigation and an array of legal actions by crew members alleging widespread negligence and unsafe conditions on the film set.
Mamie Mitchell, a script supervisor, is suing Baldwin and the movie’s producers, alleging widespread negligence and claiming the scene Baldwin was rehearsing never called for him to fire the weapon.
Shortly after the shooting, the “Rust” production company issued a statement saying, “The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”