Alec Baldwin has spoken out for the first time after a cinematographer was fatally shot on the set of the Western film Rust in October.
Set in 1880s Kansas, Rust follows an ageing outlaw, played by Baldwin, who goes on the run with his grandson, who is set to be hanged following an accidental shooting.
The actor, 63, was practicing for an upcoming scene when the prop gun he was using accidentally went off, fatally injuring Halyna Hutchins and injuring the film’s director, Joel Souza.
“I would go to any lengths to undo what happened. I would go to any lengths to undo what happened,” Baldwin said in an exclusive sit-down interview with ABC.
“My concern is I don’t sound like I’m the victim, because there is a victim: there is a woman who died and my friend got shot.”
At times emotional, the veteran actor described Hutchins as "someone who was loved by everyone who worked with her and admired".
He said “all of what happened” leading up to the October 21 incident was “precipitated on one idea” and that is “[Hutchins and I] both assumed the gun was empty - other than those dummy rounds”.
Rust had been mired in issues around safety on set when production began at Bonanza Creek Ranch on October 6, with Baldwin flying in one week later.
Baldwin said he had a safety demonstration with the film’s lead armourer and assistant prop master, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, on October 12, and said nothing she did had raised any red flags.
Rust was 24-year-old Reed’s second film, but the actor said he had “assumed - because she was there, she was hired - she was up for the job”.
He said while the crew was often stretched, himself included, he was unaware of any issues on set.
“I did not observe any safety or security issues at all in the time I was there.
“The first time I heard that there was any problem with anybody in the crew of the film was when [Lane] Luper said, ‘Well, we have some issues here.’”
Luper, who served as the film’s first camera assistant, resigned soon afterwards, writing that the filming of gunfights are “often played very fast and loose”.
Watch: Alec Baldwin Unscripted, Monday 6 December at 9.30pm on TVNZ 1 and TVNZ OnDemand
He also cited concerns around “two accidental weapons discharges” prior to the incident, as well as the long commute times for the crew.
Producers for the film later put out a statement calling Luper’s claims “patently false”, and that he had “had absolutely nothing to do with, or knowledge of, safety protocols or budgets”.
“Safety is always the number one priority on our films.”
Luper and six others walked off the set hours before the fatal shooting, and filming continued with a non-union replacement camera crew.
Baldwin recalled sitting in a pew shortly before the incident, "right before they called for lunch, and I said, 'This movie has made me love making movies again', because I used to love to make movies - I did."
He was practicing with a prop gun for a scene when he “let go of the hammer - bang - the gun goes off”.
“The trigger wasn’t pulled - I didn't pull the trigger.
“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never.”
He said “everyone was horrified, was shocked” following the shooting.
“She goes down. I thought to myself, ‘Did she faint?’ The notion that there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me until probably 45 minutes to an hour later.
“The idea that someone put a live bullet in the gun was not even in reality.”
The cast and crew were forced out of the building after emergency services were called to the scene.
Police arrived 15 to 20 minutes later and cordoned off the film set.
He said he was unaware of what had occurred “until I was in the police station, hours later - it was like seeing aliens”.
“It was utter disbelief over the idea; it was unacceptable, the idea that it was a live round.”
He said in his 40-year career in the entertainment business "all the way up until that day, I never had a problem".
“You’ve had hundreds and hundreds of millions of bullets fired on the sets of films and TV shows and four or five people were killed.
“Those deaths are tragic and abhorrent and believe me, I would do anything in my power - I would do anything in my power - to undo what was done but I don’t know how that bullet arrived in that gun. I don’t know.
“I’m all for doing anything that will take us to a place where this is less likely to happen again.”
He said there is "only one question to be resolved - only one: that is, where did the live round come from?"
Baldwin remembered Hutchins as "the loveliest woman, one of the loveliest women I've ever worked with and one of the most professional in terms of her demeanor".
"After she died, all these statements were made by her friends and things about her, how loved she was and is.
"I think it's important to remember that she was as admired as she was loved ... She is someone who people really, really thought she had a great talent."
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.