Joel Souza, the director of Rust who was injured during an on-set shooting, is speaking publicly for the first time since the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
“I am gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna. She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better,” the director said in a statement to NBC News. “My thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time.”
The director also spoke to the outpouring of support he’s seen following news of his hospitalization after being wounded Thursday by a prop gun handled by Rust star and producer Alec Baldwin.
“I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe, and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out,” he continued. “It will surely aid in my recovery.”
According to an affidavit filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Baldwin was told the prop firearm was safe when it was handed to him by an assistant director, who didn’t know there were live rounds in the weapon. When Baldwin pulled the trigger, the live projectile struck and killed the 42-year-old Hutchins and injured Souza, the sheriff’s office said in the filing. No charges have been filed and the investigation was ongoing.
Late Friday, Hutchin’s husband, Matt, shared a statement celebrating his wife while asking for privacy as the family grieves. “Halyna inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words,” he tweeted. “Our loss is enormous, and we ask that the media please respect my family’s privacy as we process our grief. We thank everyone for sharing images and stories of her life.”
He continued, stating that a scholarship was being established in Hutchins’ name. “Thank you to Halyna’s friends and mentors at AFI for establishing a scholarship to honor her memory and support aspiring female cinematographers. Anyone seeking to honor her memory, please direct your giving to this fund.”
Thank you to Halyna’s friends and mentors at AFI for establishing a scholarship to honor her memory and support aspiring female cinematographers. Anyone seeking to honor her memory, please direct your giving to this fund. https://t.co/I5ci67uleU
— Matt Hutchins (@mhutchins) October 23, 2021
In a statement posted to his Twitter account on Friday, Baldwin shared his “shock and sadness” over the Thursday set incident. “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” he wrote.
“I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred,” Baldwin continued. “I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
On Saturday, Senator Dave Cortese, chair of the California Senate’s Labor Committee, said he plans to introduce legislation that would ban from the state’s movie sets and theatrical productions live ammunition and firearms capable of firing live ammunition. The effort would help “establish new safety standards and best practices for all those who work in the industry and particularly in our own state.”
The senator’s statement acknowledged Hutchins’ death as the latest incident in the ongoing debate around on-set prop gun safety and noted that despite Thursday’s tragic shooting taking place on a New Mexico set, the issue is of importance in California where much of Hollywood’s production industry is based.
“Those working behind the scenes to entertain and bring joy to millions all over the world shouldn’t go to set worrying if they will return home safely to their family,” he said. “Our entertainment industry must do a better job of ensuring safe working conditions for our hardworking crews.”