Filming on the western film Rust will resume in the spring, producers have announced, more than a year on from the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on set.
A documentary about Hutchins‘ life and final work, which will include the completion of the movie, is also in the works alongside the production, supported by her husband.
The 42-year-old died after a prop gun held by Rust star and producer Alec Baldwin, 64, was discharged during rehearsals in October 2021. Director Joel Souza was also wounded in the incident, which took place on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In January, following a lengthy investigation, Baldwin and the film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, while assistant director Dave Halls has entered into a plea agreement to the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Baldwin’s lawyer has called the case a “terrible miscarriage of justice” and vowed to fight the charges. The star is also facing a new civil lawsuit from Hutchins’ parents and sister.
Despite the legal cases, he is due to return to the film in his acting role and as a producer, Sky News understands. Filming will no longer take place in New Mexico, but as yet, no details about the new location have been announced.
As previously announced, Souza will return to direct, and the cinematographer’s husband Matthew Hutchins – who settled a civil lawsuit in October – will serve as an executive producer. He will be joined by the Oscar-nominated Grant Hill (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life), alongside the original producers.
A statement from Rust Movie Productions said Matthew Hutchins had chosen cinematographer Bianca Cline (Marcel the Shell With Shoes On) to complete his wife’s vision for the film, and that she will donate her salary to charity.
The production will continue to use union crew members and will bar any use of working weapons and any form of ammunition. “Live ammunition is – and always was – prohibited on set,” the producers said.
‘Completing what Halyna and I started’
In a statement, Souza said: “Though bittersweet, I am grateful that a brilliant and dedicated new production team joining former cast and crew are committed to completing what Halyna and I started.
“My every effort on this film will be devoted to honouring Halyna’s legacy and making her proud. It is a privilege to see this through on her behalf.”
Two safety officers will be among the new crew members joining the production, Rust Movie Productions said, while original crew members returning include stunt co-ordinator Allan Graf and costume designer Terese Davis.
The documentary on Hutchins’ life will be directed by Rachel Mason, with Julee Metz producing and Matthew Hutchins also serving as executive producer.
“Both Mason and Metz were close friends with Halyna, and they look forward to working with the production to honour their friend,” the producers’ statement said.
What happens next in the criminal case?
Baldwin is due to make his first court appearance in relation to the case on Friday 24 February. He is likely to appear virtually.
In her report, Santa Fe’s district attorney alleged the actor had shown “wilful disregard” for the safety of others in the days leading up to the incident and was not present for “mandatory” firearms training.
Instead, he had undergone a 30-minute on-set session, during which he was distracted by a phone call to his family, the prosecutor said.
Her statement added that on the day of the shooting, there were “no less than a dozen acts, or omissions of recklessness” on the set in the period prior to the incident.
Baldwin was ‘talking on phone’ during gun training, prosecutor claims
Baldwin to make first court appearance over fatal shooting
Baldwin is facing two charges of involuntary manslaughter in relation to Hutchins’ death.
The first can be referred to as involuntary manslaughter and requires proof of underlying negligence. The second charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death; it also includes a firearm enhancement, which makes the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in prison.
The star is attempting to have the more serious charge thrown out. Lawyers for the actor argue that New Mexico prosecutors committed an “unconstitutional and elementary legal error” by charging him under a statute that did not exist at the time of the fatal shooting.
The new lawsuit from Hutchins’ Ukrainian family
Meanwhile, a civil lawsuit has been filed by Hutchins’ Ukrainian parents and younger sister, who works as a nurse on the outskirts of the capital city of Kyiv and is married to a man fighting in the war against Russia.
The new lawsuit alleges negligence and the depravation of benefits, based on the emotional or financial support that Hutchins previously provided to her sister and parents.
The lawsuit also names a list of Rust crew members, an ammunition supplier, producers of the film and affiliated businesses as defendants.
It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal costs.
Baldwin in turn has filed his own lawsuits against people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun. He has said he was told the gun was safe.