5 key takeaways from Alec Baldwin's exclusive interview with George Stephanopoulos

The star reflected on a fatal shooting on the set of "Rust."

December 3, 2021, 8:21 AM

For the first time, Alec Baldwin discussed at length what happened surrounding the fatal "Rust" shooting and how he is grappling with the fallout in an exclusive interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.


Alec Baldwin: Unscripted

Actor Alec Baldwin sits down in his first interview since the fatal accident on the set of the movie "Rust".

Several major questions remain unanswered, including how a live bullet wound up in the antique Colt .45 revolver that discharged in Baldwin's hand, killing the film's cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding its director, Joel Souza.

Baldwin's emotional interview cast fresh light on the tragic incident.

Here are five key takeaways:

Baldwin says he 'didn't pull the trigger,' and was following Hutchins' direction at time of shooting

Baldwin told Stephanopoulos that he never pulled the trigger of the prop gun, but rather cocked it. He said when he released the hammer, it unexpectedly discharged a live bullet.

During a marking rehearsal for a complicated shooting scene, Baldwin said Hutchins was directing him on what angle to position the gun to capture the best shot. Hutchins was directing his every move, he said, "Everything is at her direction."

"She's guiding me through how she wants me to hold the gun for this angle," Baldwin said. "I'm holding the gun where she told me to hold it, which ended up being aimed right below her armpit."

"So, I take the gun and I start to cock the gun. I'm not going to pull the trigger," he continued. "And I cock the gun, I go, 'Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?' And then I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off. I let go of the hammer of the gun – the gun goes off."

"So you never pulled the trigger?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"No, no, no, no, no," Baldwin said. "I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never. Never. That was the training that I had."

A lawsuit filed in mid-November by the film's script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, accused Baldwin, who is named as a defendant in the civil suit, of "playing Russian roulette" with the gun by pointing it at Hutchins.

"There are some who say you're never supposed to point a gun on anyone on a set no matter what," Stephanopoulos pressed.

"Unless the person is the cinematographer, who's directing me at where to point the gun for her camera angle," Baldwin replied. "I didn't point the gun at her, and she said, 'Hey, man, don't point the gun at me.' I pointed the gun in a direction she wanted."

Baldwin says he doesn't feel guilt, but the shooting left a heavy toll

"Do you feel guilt?," Stephanopoulos asked.

"No. No," Baldwin said. "I feel that someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me."

Baldwin said he has succumbed to the emotional toll of what happened and the fact that Hutchins lost her life. He said he is struggling to get through each day and re-living the incident at night.

"I have dreams about this constantly now," he said. "I go through my day, and I make it through the day. Then I collapse at the end of the day. Emotionally, I collapse."

PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin talks to ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in his first interview since the deadly shooting on the set of the film, "Rust."
Actor Alec Baldwin talks to ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in his first interview since the deadly shooting on the set of the film, "Rust."
ABC News

When he met with Hutchins' widow and 9-year-old son after Hutchins' death, Baldwin said the two men embraced. He said he was at a loss for words during their meeting.

"I didn't know what to say," Baldwin recalled. "He goes like, 'I suppose you and I are going to go through this together," he said. And I thought, 'Well, not as much as you are.'"

Meeting Hutchins' son, Baldwin said, invoked thoughts of his own children and how they adore their mother.

"And this boy doesn't have a mother anymore," he said. And there's nothing we can do to bring her back. And I told him, I said, "I don't know what to say. I don't know how to convey to you how sorry I am."

As investigation marches on, Baldwin downplays the risk of facing criminal charges

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate how a live bullet made its way on set and into the Colt .45 that discharged in Baldwin's hand.

Investigators continue releasing new information, and this week indicated they were closing in on an explanation for the source of the live bullet. The district attorney told ABC News criminal charges remain "on the table."

For his part, Baldwin said he doesn't believe he will face criminal charges for the tragedy.

"I've been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that it's highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally," he said.

But the criminal probe and potential charges account for only part of Baldwin's legal troubles. He has already been named as a defendant in two civil lawsuits.

Baldwin responds to critics, including Trump, Clooney

In the wake of the shooting, Baldwin attracted attention from some high-profile critics, including former President Donald Trump. Baldwin had been a vocal critic of Trump and portrayed the former president in a recurring impersonation role on "Saturday Night Live."

Trump called Baldwin "cuckoo" and intimated that he may have deliberately fired the weapon at Hutchins.

"[Trump] said I did it ​deliberately... with Trump, as we all know, the bar isn't low, the bar is in the dirt," Baldwin said. "I mean, just when you think that things can't get more surreal, here is the former president of the United States making a comment on this tragic situation."

PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin talks to ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in his first interview since the deadly shooting on the set of the film, "Rust."
Actor Alec Baldwin talks to ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in his first interview since the deadly shooting on the set of the film, "Rust."
ABC News

Fellow actors also weighed in. George Clooney, for example, said, "every single time I'm handed a gun on a set -- every time they had me a gun -- I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I'm pointing it to."

Baldwin called Clooney's thinly veiled criticism "misplaced."

"There were a lot of people who felt it necessary to contribute some comment to the situation, which really didn't help the situation at all," he said. "If your protocol is you checking the gun every time, well, good for you."

Baldwin says he 'can't imagine' taking roles in films with guns in the future

The fallout from Hutchins' death has rattled Baldwin, he said, to the point that he "couldn't give a s--- about [his career] anymore." And while he remained opaque on what type of roles he will take on in the future, he made one assurance.

"I can't imagine I'd ever do a movie that had a gun in it again," Baldwin said.

The "Rust" shooting has inspired several other actors, including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, to pledge to use only fake guns in future films. Others, including Olivia Wilde, have signed a petition to ban the use of real guns on Hollywood film sets.

Baldwin called for changes to ensure that sets are safe.

"Guns are in films and television shows because that's what audiences want," he said. "I'm only saying that whatever steps we have to take to put another layer of security so that doesn't happen again."

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