George Clooney spoke out about the deadly accidental shooting on the set of “Rust,” blaming “a lot of stupid mistakes” for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Alec Baldwin was handed a revolver by “Rust” assistant director Dave Halls that both he and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed reportedly inspected. However, while rehearsing a scene for the movie, Baldwin fired the gun, which discharged a live round that killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Now, investigators are looking into both the people who handled the gun as well as how live rounds made their way to set in the first place.
Speaking on the “WTF” podcast with host Marc Maron, Clooney noted that the “Rust” shooting is shocking to him after the deaths of actors Brandon Lee in 1993 and Jon-Erik Hexum in 1984 seemingly served as a warning to Hollywood. Both actors were killed as a result of mishaps with real firearms on sets. Clooney, who was personal friends with Lee before his death at age 28, noted that the incident prompted him to take guns very seriously in his work.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on the 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, I show it to the crew,” Clooney said (via Yahoo Entertainment). “Every single take.”
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The actor added that he personally makes sure to take any six-shooter he’s handed on a set like the one Baldwin was handling and point it at the ground before firing the trigger six times to ensure it is in fact safe to handle. Clooney said that he does not know Baldwin very well personally, so he stopped short of putting any kind of blame on the actor.
“Maybe Alec did that — hopefully he did do that,” the actor said of the typical on-set protocol. “But the problem is dummies are tricky because they look like real [rounds]. They got a little tiny hole in the back [from which] somebody’s [removed] the gunpowder.”
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According to a search warrant previously executed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department, both Gutierrez Reed and Halls inspected the gun and believed they saw dummy rounds inside, which are bullets that cannot fire but are meant to look very similar to live ammo. Despite a live round being in the gun, the warrant reports that Halls declared the firearm a “cold gun” before handing it to Baldwin, a term Clooney is unfamiliar with.
“I’ve never heard the term ‘cold gun,'” Clooney said of his 40 years in filmmaking. “I’ve never heard that term. Literally. They’re just talking about stuff I’ve never heard of. It’s just infuriating.”
The actor recalled his friendship with Brandon, the son of late martial arts and film icon Bruce Lee, who died on the set of “The Crow” in 1993 in a similar shooting incident. He noted that they played basketball together three times a week at the Y in Hollywood and Clooney’s cousin, Miguel Ferrer, was to be best man at Lee’s wedding a week after “The Crow” was to wrap.
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“After Brandon died, it really became a very clear thing of: Open the gun. Look down the barrel. Look in the cylinder. Make sure,” the actor said of on-set gun safety. “It’s harder with dummy bullets, I have to say, because if you stuck six dummy bullets in your hand, you would think they’re real bullets.”
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Clooney concluded: “It’s a series of tragedies, but also a lot of mistakes. A lot of stupid mistakes.”