American actor and film producer George Clooney referred to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, shot on stage by actor Alec Baldwin, and lashed out at the production of the film Rust.
The official version is that Rust assistant director David Halls handed the gun to Baldwin and announced “cold gun,” indicating that the weapon was safe to use, but Clooney said he had “never heard” that expression, according to The Hollywood Reporter on Nov. 15.
He was also emphatic that it was: “a series of tragedies. But also, a lot of stupid mistakes,” in an interview with author and podcaster Marc Maron.
While he also considered that he doesn’t believe “there’s any intent by anybody to do anything wrong,” but that it’s imperative to be very careful when using prop guns on the film set.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on the set … I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, I show it to the crew. Every single take, you hand it back to the armorer when you’re done and you do it again,” he said, clarifying that he didn’t know Alec Baldwin, who is one of the film’s six principals.
“He may be a d**k, I don’t know the guy at all, but I’ve been on sets for 40 years and the person that hands you the gun, the person that is responsible for the gun is either the prop person or the armorer. Period,” he said.
Clooney finds it “infuriating” and crazy that Rust’s prop guns would have also been used for target practice. “We need to be better at making sure the heads of our department are experienced and know what they’re doing.”
He added: “Why, for the life of me, this low budget film with producers who haven’t produced anything wouldn’t have hired, for the armorer, someone with experience?”
Clooney recounted that throughout his 40-year career, he saw two other tragic accidents that had a profound impact on him, one of which was the death of his close friend Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts master, actor, filmmaker, and philosopher, Bruce Lee.
Brandon was shot dead on the set of The Crow in the 1990s by another actor who fired an ill-prepared revolver, and Clooney recalled what happened then.
“The first unit, low-budget probably… I don’t even remember if the guy was even a union prop guy, sent it down to a second unit, a different group of shooting, and they wanted to use the same gun so they sent the gun down there.”
He continued, “It was the guy’s girlfriend that was the prop assistant. They didn’t have dummy bullets so they made them by taking the gunpowder out and putting the bullet back in… She takes the bullets out of the cylinder and one of the shells, one of the bullets, had lodged in the barrel of the gun.”
But no one checked, and with that bullet lodged in the barrel, the actor who fired after aiming at Brandon took his life.
Another terrible death was that of his friend, actor Jon-Erik Hexum, who fatally shot himself in the 1980s during the filming of the CBS movie Cover Up with a gun loaded with blanks, Clooney recounted to Maron.