24 October 2021

Rust assistant director was subject of 2019 safety complaint, says ex-colleague

24 October 2021

A crew member has said she has raised safety concerns in the past about the assistant director who authorities say unwittingly handed actor Alec Baldwin the prop gun that killed a cinematographer on a film set.

Crew member Maggie Goll said in a statement that she filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Hulu’s Into the Dark series in 2019 over concerns about the behaviour of assistant director Dave Halls on set.

Goll said in an email on Sunday that Halls disregarded safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics and tried to continue filming after a crew member had “slipped into a diabetic fugue state”.

Halls has not returned phone calls and email messages seeking comment.

Alec Baldwin was handed a prop gun but was unaware it contained live ammunition (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) (AP)

Baldwin fired a prop gun on the New Mexico set of the film Rust on Thursday, killing 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her.

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or “armourer”, had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

Halls grabbed a gun off a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating that the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun”, court papers say.

Instead, it was loaded with live rounds, according to the records.

Baldwin, 63, who is known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October and his impression of former President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, has described the killing as a “tragic accident”.

Rust Movie Productions did not answer emails seeking comment on Friday or Saturday.

Baldwin, who is a producer on Rust, met with Hutchins’ husband and nine-year-old son on Saturday at a hotel in Santa Fe where the actor had been staying during filming.

Baldwin and Hutchins’ husband can be seen embracing in a photo published by the New York Post. Another shows a defeated-looking Baldwin walking in the hotel grounds pushing a luggage cart.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the set of the movie Rust (AP Photo/Andres Leighton) (AP)

Goll, a prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician, said in her email that Halls’ behaviour on set has concerned her in the past.

She said that, during work on Into the Dark, Halls did not hold safety meetings and consistently failed to announce the presence of a firearm on set to the crew, as is protocol.

The assistant prop master admonished Halls several times for dismissing the actors and actresses before they had returned weapons to the props table, she said.

“The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon’s presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day,” she wrote.

She filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Blumhouse Productions, she said.

“To my knowledge nothing was done after my complaints,” she wrote.

“I am gutted at not pushing harder for greater accountability and safety.

“Many of us have messaged each other wondering the same thing, ‘Is there something we could have done then that would have prevented the tragedy?” she said. “It is a horrible feeling.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox