The veteran film actor Alec Baldwin is likely to see his damaged career erode even further with the announcement that criminal charges will be filed in the accidental shooting in 2021 of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western “Rust.”
Baldwin, who starred in the yet-to-be-completed film was one of its producers, will be charged by New Mexico prosecutors with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the fatality.
Baldwin shot Hutchins in the chest on October 21st, 2021 while rehearsing a scene with her and the film’s director, Joel Souza, who was also wounded.
In a statement following the announcement, an attorney for Baldwin, Luke Nikas, said, “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’s tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. 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.”
After the shooting, Baldwin drew criticism for blaming others on the set for the accident. “Someone is responsible … but I know it’s not me,” Baldwin told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in December 2021.
In October, Hutchins’ family reached an undisclosed settlement with Baldwin in a wrongful-death suit. As part of the settlement, filming on Rust is due to resume this year with the cinematographer’s husband, Matthew Hutchins, as executive producer.
However it was always viewed as controversial to finish the film and and the charges against Baldwin will likely complicate the production schedule.
Baldwin could face a mandatory five years in jail if found guilty. Speaking to CNN in August, Baldwin, who had publicly contemplated retiring after his run on 30 Rock in 2012, said that it was only owing to the encouragement of his wife, Hilaria, that he was persevering at all.
“If I didn’t have her, I probably would have quit, retired, gone off, sold everything I owned, got a house in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “Just find something else to do, sell real estate.”