The decision to charge Alec Baldwin with manslaughter is sparking deep anxiety and debate among his peers.
In an interview with The Times, the First Judicial District of New Mexico. Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special counsel Andrea Reeb said they interviewed actors who told them Baldwin failed to follow protocols before the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie “Rust” in October 2021.
“We’ve talked to a number of actors, A-list and less A-list, and they’ve all confirmed that when you’re given a gun, you should look at it and make sure it’s safe,” Carmack-Altwies said.
But many actors and creators question the decision to file criminal charges against one of their own. Baldwin, who authorities say fired the prop weapon that led to the fatal shooting, could face a five-year prison sentence if a jury finds him guilty on one of the counts.
Prosecutors also plan to file manslaughter charges against gun handler Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who acknowledged that she loaded the gun involved in the fatal Hutchins shooting, but failed to realize there was at least one live bullet among the dummy inert rounds. .
“We are very concerned about the precedent this could set,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director of SAG-AFTRA. “The actors are not trained to be firearms experts.”
That sentiment is widely shared among members of Hollywood’s largest syndicate.
Matthew Arkin, an actor who was shot with dummies or blanks for his role in an episode of CBS’s “Criminal Minds,” argued that actors are at the bottom of the chain of command when it comes to guns.
“It’s abhorrent, I think it’s horrible,” Arkin said of the pending charges against Baldwin. “A film set is an expert environment and I’m supposed to be an expert in the acting part, not the props, not the weapons.”
Lisa Ann Walter, who plays Melissa Schemmenti on the ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary” and is a member of the SAG-AFTRA executive committee, said actors shouldn’t take the blame for gun mishaps.
“If it requires an actor to be in charge of the armory or the stunts, that’s not what we’re there for,” Walter said.
She said she once felt safe on film sets with guns, but not anymore.
“Things like this make you feel like you never know what could go wrong,” Walker said. “The training, top-notch union equipment, and most importantly, the time to plan stunts and effects is absolutely integral to set safety; Otherwise, these tragic results are obtained”.
Walter plans to file a motion with SAG-AFTRA to ban the use of real weapons and to use fake weapons with effects done in post production. She would like to see the rules incorporated into contract negotiations this year with growers, he said.
Crabtree-Ireland said some members have told him they “can no longer take part in productions that use real firearms due to the risk of criminal penalties.”
After the “Rust” tragedy in 2021, many shows quickly banned real guns in their productions and switched to toy guns known as BB guns. Dwayne Johnson, known as The Rock, was one of the first high-profile artists to say that he would not use a gun in the future.
Although legislative attempts to ban guns on film sets have failed, Crabtree-Ireland said there is interest in a move towards the use of non-lethal replica weapons, such as airsoft guns.
Other actors have weighed in supporting Baldwin.
“In no way should actor Alec Baldwin be accused of any negligence,” Mickey Rourke said via Instagram. “Most actors don’t know anything about guns, especially if they didn’t grow up around them.”
Some actors noted that the safety procedures already in place have kept them safe on countless productions over the years using real weapons. And there was also surprise that the assistant director, who is in charge of security on the sets, would receive a lower charge than the actor who uses a weapon.
Dave Halls, an assistant director on “Rust,” agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon in a deal that resulted in a suspended sentence and six months probation. He will testify against Baldwin, according to prosecutors.
However, some actors publicly and privately supported the decision to press charges, noting that Baldwin was more than just an actor in the production: he was also one of its producers.
“[I]manslaughter seems appropriate. He was a producer/authority figure on the production,” actor Ethan Embry tweeted.
Baldwin previously said his role was limited to making creative decisions, not budgeting or hiring, and that the tragedy was not his fault.
“This decision misrepresents the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins and represents a terrible miscarriage of law,” said Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, adding that his client “relied on the professionals he worked with, who assured him that the weapon had no Live Rounds. We will fight these charges and we will win.”