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Alec Baldwin will continue his lead role in the western “Rust,” despite the impending criminal charges against him.
Melina Spadone, an attorney representing Rust Movie Productions LLC, confirmed to Oxygen.com that Baldwin will remain in the lead role as production of the movie resumes in the months ahead. It's understood that the remaining scenes will not be filmed in New Mexico.
The announcement comes after New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced last week that she plans to file involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin and the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed for the on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot during a rehearsal in October of 2021.
Joel Souza — who was struck in the shoulder by the bullet but survived — is expected to return as director of the western.
Hutchins’ widower Matthew will also be part of the production as the executive producer, The New York Post reports. Matthew Hutchins was named to the role as part of an October settlement agreement in the wrongful death suit filed by her family, which also allowed the film’s production to continue.
Spadone additionally confirmed that as production resumes there will be “on-set safety supervisors and union crew members” on hand. The “use of working weapons or any ammunition” will also be barred from the set in an attempt to prevent further tragedy.
Hutchins, a 42-year-old mother, was killed Oct. 21 when the antique revolver Baldwin was holding discharged and struck her in the chest before lodging into Souza’s shoulder.
Baldwin told investigators he had been practicing a “cross-draw” with what he believed was a “cold gun,” a term used in the movie industry to refer to a weapon without any live ammunition, when the shooting occurred, according to a search warrant previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
David Halls, who had served as the film’s assistant director and had handed the weapon over to Baldwin, has signed a plea deal admitting to negligent use of a deadly weapon in connection with the shooting, according to a statement from the DA’s office obtained by Oxygen.com. As part of the plea agreement, he will receive a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
Carmack-Altwies said she plans to file the involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed by the end of the month after gathering “sufficient evidence” to support the charges.
“On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice,” she said.
Jurors will be tasked with determining whether or not the defendants are guilty and which charge, involuntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, more appropriately meets the circumstances. Although both are considered fourth degree felonies punishable by up to 18 months in jail, the more serious involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act charge includes a firearm enhancement that would add a mandatory five-year jail sentence.
Baldwin has repeatedly insisted that he did not pull the trigger of the revolver that afternoon — an assertion which Carmack-Altwies has contested after an FBI report concluded in August that the revolver couldn’t have fired unless the trigger was pulled.
Carmack-Atwies additionally stated in an interview with NBC News that the charges against Baldwin stem from his role as a producer on the film, and that he should've been aware of safety concerns on the set as an employer. The Los Angeles Times previously reported that multiple crew members expressed concern about gun safety protocols following two alleged misfires on the set.
“The misfires on set, the way the gun was handed to him, he’s experienced,” Carmack-Atwies told NBC News. “He understands what the proper protocol is for safety, and he was just disregarding that.”
His attorney Luke Nikas called the decision to charge the actor a “terrible miscarriage of justice,” in a statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," Nikas said. "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win."
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion said they also plan to fight the charges and called them the result of “a very flawed investigation,” in a statement to Oxygen.com.
Hutchins’ family, however, said in their own respective statement, issued by attorney Brian J. Panish, that they believe the criminal charges were “warranted” for the “conscious disregard for human life.”
“It’s a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law,” Panish said in the statement to Oxygen.com.
After the settlement was reached in the wrongful death case in October, Matthew Hutchins said he had “no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame” and was “grateful” that producers and the entertainment industry would come together to complete his wife’s “final work,” according to Entertainment Tonight.
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