Nearly a year after Halyna Hutchins was killed by a live round fired from a prop gun on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Western movie “Rust,” the estate of the late cinematographer has come to a settlement with the film production. Surprisingly, the film will also resume production in January.
“We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of ‘Rust,’ including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC. As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed,” said Matthew Hutchins, husband of the late Halyna Hutchins, this morning.
As part of the settlement, Hutchins will become an executive producer on the film, which will resume “with all the original principal players on board in January 2023.”
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” Hutchins said. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
Halyna Hutchins, 42, was killed when Baldwin fired a Colt .45 revolver that he had been told was “cold.” They were preparing to film a scene at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, N.M., when the gun fired. She is survived by her husband and her 9-year-old son.
The attorney for the Hutchins estate, Brian Panish, filed the wrongful death lawsuit in February, alleging that the shooting was the result of negligence and cost-cutting.
No terms of the settlement were disclosed. Baldwin had taken the lead on an earlier effort to settle with the Hutchins estate, before the suit was filed. In those discussions, which were revealed in an arbitration filing in March, the proposal was to compensate the Hutchins family through insurance proceeds and a portion of the film’s profits. Baldwin was eager to resolve the civil claims quickly and resume filming, because the cast of “Rust” includes a child actor who would age out of the role. Those initial talks collapsed, however.
In a statement on Wednesday, Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said, “Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”
“Rust” director Joel Souza was also injured when the bullet hit his shoulder. In his own statement, he added: “Those of us who were lucky enough to have spent time with Halyna knew her to be exceedingly talented, kind, creative and a source of incredible positive energy. I only wish the world had gotten to know her under different circumstances, as it surely would have through her amazing work.”
He continued, “In my own attempts to heal, any decision to return to finish directing the film could only make sense for me if it was done with the involvement of Matt and the Hutchins family. Though certainly bittersweet, I am pleased that together, we will now complete what Halyna and I started. My every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring Halyna’s legacy and making her proud. It is a privilege to see this through on her behalf.”
Prosecutors in New Mexico have yet to make a decision on whether to file charges against Baldwin or the other crew members involved in the shooting. In August, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies asked the state for $635,500 in emergency funding to pay for up to four criminal trials. The state Board of Finance approved half that amount in September.
During their investigation, the FBI concluded that the firearm that killed Hutchins on the set of “Rust” could not have been fired “without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional.” Baldwin has maintained that he believes that he did not pull the trigger on the gun prior to it firing.
Investigators have focused in large part on Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the then-24-year-old armorer who loaded Baldwin’s gun. Though she was one of the defendants in the wrongful death lawsuit, it does not appear from the statements that she was a party to the settlement. In a statement on Wednesday, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, Jason Bowles, said that she was “grateful” that the settlement was reached.
“Hannah is grateful that this settlement will benefit the Hutchins family and that the parties were able to constructively resolve the civil lawsuit,” Bowles said. “We are hopeful that the district attorneys office will also recognize that a measure of Justice has been achieved in regards to this tragic accident and that they will opt not to pursue criminal charges.”
The D.A.’s office, however, said in a statement that the civil settlement would not affect the decision on whether to file criminal charges.
“The proposed settlement announced today in Matthew Hutchins’ wrongful death case against ‘Rust’ movie producers, including Alec Baldwin, in the death of Halyna Hutchins will have no impact on District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies’ ongoing investigation or her ultimate decision whether to file criminal charges in the case,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the office. “While civil suits are settled privately and often involve financial awards, criminal cases deal only in facts. If the facts and evidence warrant criminal charges under New Mexico law then charges will be brought. No one is above the law.”