Filmmaker Joel Souza was one of two people caught in the crossfire of a prop gun discharged by Alec Baldwin on the set of the outlaw movie Rust.
Baldwin, 63, misfired the prop on Thursday, October 21, while working at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Production was quickly put on pause after Souza, 48, was flown to a nearby hospital via helicopter to receive emergency care for his injuries. According to Deadline, he was released the following morning.
Director of photography Halyna Hutchins also required medical attention and was transported to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. The cinematographer, 42, was later pronounced dead.
“The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones,” the production company behind the film, Rust Movie Productions LLC, noted in a statement on Friday, October 22. “We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”
While there were no arrests made on set, the local sheriff’s department was conducting an investigation to find out “what type of projectile was discharged” on set.
Souza wrote the screenplay for the Western movie, which Baldwin was coproducing. The 30 Rock alum portrays Harland Rust, an outlaw who travels to Kansas to break his 13-year-old grandson (Brandy Noon) out of prison for accidental murder. The two fugitives attempt to outrun U.S. Marshall Wood Helm (Jensen Ackles) and a bounty hunter (Travis Fimmel).
Baldwin previously told The Hollywood Reporter that he was “elated” to work on the adventurous film, even though it wasn’t “something I was setting out to do” at first.
“I just loved the story,” the Emmy winner said in July 2020. “As was the case with Crown Vic, a movie that I made with [Joel] Souza, I love Joel’s writing. Love is a word that is so overused, but I really do love his writing. … It wasn’t even that I was looking to do a Western, I was just looking for something a little more cinematic with a little less talking.”
The Match Game host was hoping to create “some really stunning cinematics” with the project — and was already practicing his “gun slinging and horse-riding skills” before filming began.
“They’re always at the ready,” he told the outlet. “I’m an actor of the old school. So if you read my resume — my motorcycle riding, my French, juggling, my horseback riding, my gunplay — is all right at my fingertips at all times.”
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