By Martha Ross
From The Mercury News
SAN JOSE, Calif.—Angelina Jolie and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have plenty of experience performing scenes with real guns and dummy bullets on the sets of their big-budget action films, but both are reconsidering in the wake of the Oct. 21 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
In interviews this week, Jolie said that “certain procedures” have to be taken “very seriously,” and Johnson said the shooting prompted him to pledge to stop using real firearms on all projects produced by his company, Seven Bucks Productions.
Alec Baldwin, the actor who killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, had been handed a gun on the set of his Western film, “Rust,” and told it wasn’t loaded. However, it held one suspected live round that killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.
“I can’t imagine what these families are going through,” Jolie said in an interview with the U.K. Times. “At this moment, the grief and the tragedy of that accident is quite overwhelming.”
The “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” star also has directed films in which guns are used.
“I’ve always been very careful because I’ve had to work with guns a lot,” Jolie said. “The way I’ve worked or checked when I’m directing, there are certain procedures. You have to take it very seriously.”
At the premiere for his new Netflix film, “Red Notice,” Johnson told Variety that his company will only use rubber guns on his sets and enforce that rule with any studio he is working with.
“I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you, without an absence of clarity here, that any movie that we have moving forward with Seven Bucks Productions—any movie, any television show, or anything we do or produce—we won’t use real guns at all,” the former WWE star told Variety.
The Hayward native who headlined some of the “Fast and Furious” films said he was on the phone with his production team a couple hours after learning of Hutchins’s death, saying that his company needed to ensure complete safety moving forward.
“There are safety protocols and measures that we have always taken in the movie business and we take very seriously, and these sets are safe sets, and we’re proud of that,” Johnson said. “But accidents do happen. And when something like this happens of this magnitude, this heartbreaking, I think the most prudent thing and the smartest thing to do is just pause for a second and really reexamine how you’re going to move forward and how we’re going to work together.”
Baldwin, one of the producers of the film “Rust,” insisted in an interview last weekend that he and the production team oversaw a safe, professional set. “We were a very, very well-oiled crew shooting a film together and then this horrible event happened,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin also has used his social media accounts to share links to news stories that appear to place the blame on the film’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who handed the actor the gun and told him it was safe.
This week, Baldwin also shared a lengthy, detailed Facebook message from “Rust” costume designer Terese Magpale Davis, who disputed multiple news reports that said the crew was “overworked and surrounded by unsafe, chaotic conditions.” Davis said those claims are “[expletive]” and slammed crew members who walked off the set over safety and financial issues. She also said “concerns were heard and addressed” and defended producers for being “approachable” and “warm.”
Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, is all but certain to file a wrongful death lawsuit that is likely to name Baldwin and other producers as defendants. TMZ reported that Matthew Hutchins had hired the services of a law firm specializing in wrongful death litigation and personal injury.
During the news conference last week, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza acknowledged the news reports alleging unsafe working conditions, saying there was “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the set.
But just as Baldwin has tried to deflect criminal and civil liability for Hutchins’s death, so have Halls and head armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed—through their attorneys.
Indeed, attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed, who said she loaded dummy rounds into the gun, suggested that someone on set wanted to “sabotage” the film. On NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday, attorney Jason Bowles pointed to several camera crew members who walked off the set hours before the tragic accident to protest working conditions, but he also said someone might have been trying to sabotage the set by putting a live round in a box of dummy ammunition.
“How did a live round get on set, and who put that live round on the set?” Bowles asked.
Bowles did not provide evidence to support his theory, but he floated a possible motive for why someone would slip a live round or rounds into a box of blanks. His working theory has to do with members who walked off the set, suggesting that somebody who would “want to sabotage the set, want to prove a point, want to say they’re disgruntled, they’re unhappy.”
“I think you can’t rule anybody out at this point,” Bowles said. However, Bowles didn’t mention that the crew members who quit did so over what they said were lacking safety measures.
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