Rust’s script supervisor has sued actor Alec Baldwin and other producers of the film alleging that unlawful conduct on the sets resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Hutchins died due to a prop gun misfire on the film’s sets on October 21, which also left director Joel Souza injured.
Complainant Maimie Mitchell has sought damages for physical and emotional injuries caused by the tragic incident. Mitchell was not only present on the sets when the incident transpired, but also claims to have been the one to call 911 for help.
Based on her experience spanning 40 years and almost 100 films, Mitchell says in her suit that there was no need for Baldwin to discharge the firearm on set that day.
“Had the script called for a firearm to be discharged, Plaintiff [Mitchell], along with a number of other crew members, would have been required to view the discharging of the gun via exterior monitors that would have been set up outside of the church. None of these protocols and precautions had been taken since the script did not indicate that a firearm was to be discharged by defendant Baldwin or anyone else,” the suit, acquired by Variety, read.
Baldwin was rehearsing with the firearm that was handed to him by assistant director Dave Halls, who had declared the prop a “cold gun” – production jargon for a weapon with no live rounds. Halls later admitted that he should have checked the gun before giving it to the actor.
According to industry norms, the armorer is supposed to hand the gun to the actor and demonstrate to them that the gun chambers are empty. Mitchell notes that with his experience, Baldwin should have assumed that the gun in question was loaded until it was demonstrated otherwise.
She further alleges that no safety precautions were followed. For instance, crew members were present inside the church set, rather than being situated outside as specified by the standard safety protocol.
Pointing to 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez, who served as the film’s armorer, Mitchell’s suit also alleges that the producers “intentionally failed to hire experienced crew members to manage and handle the numerous weapons that were to be used in the film,” as part of cost-cutting measures despite earlier instances of misfire on the sets. Rust is only Gutierrez’s second film.
The producers and executive producers named in the suit include Ryan Donnell Smith, Allen Cheney, Nathan Klingher, Ryan Winterstern, Matt DelPiano, Anjul Nigam, Emily Salveson, Jennifer Lamb and Chris MB Sharp.
In a separate statement, acquired by Variety, Mitchell said that she is frightened for her future. “I don’t feel safe. I feel that at any moment anything could happen to me and to those that I care about that are standing close to me. I do not have a sense of guardrails in my life to keep me safe.”
This is the second lawsuit against the production. The first suit was filed by Serge Svetnoy, who worked as a gaffer (chief electrician) on the sets of Rust.