‘Rust’ Assistant Director Subpoenaed Amid Conflicting Accounts of Set Safety

by Josh Lanier

Investigators want to talk to the man who handed Alec Baldwin the gun that killed Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust. Authorities asked a New Mexico judge to compel assistant director Dave Halls to talk after he turned down two previous interview requests.

Safety officials said speaking with Halls is vital in determining what happened that day. The subpoena said Halls’ “duties were to coordinate and manage the logistics on set and to oversee the health and safety on set.”

The cast and crew of Rust were rehearsing a scene in a church when the .45 caliber revolver discharged. The bullet passed through Hutchins’ stomach and lodged in director Joel Souza’s shoulder. Hutchins died of her wounds at a nearby hospital. Doctors treated Souza and released him later that day.

Halls reportedly told Baldwin the prop weapon was a “cold gun,” meaning it did not contain any live ammunition. Neither of them knew an actual bullet ended up in the pistol. Investigators want to find out how this happened. Halls told authorities he thought the gun was unloaded, Fox News said. It’s unclear why he didn’t check the weapon.

Alec Baldwin said he didn’t pull the trigger. It went off after he pulled the hammer back and let go of it. Thomas Gandy, a stunt coordinator on Rust, said in a recent interview that Hutchins told Baldwin that “she wanted to see his thumb working the hammer back to do the shot.”

Gandy said Baldwin was only 18 inches away from Hutchins when the gun discharged.

“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them,” Baldwin said in a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos. “Never. Never. That was the training that I had.”

Coworker: ‘Rust’ AD Had History of Unsafe Working Conditions

A pyrotechnician and prop-maker said that Rust assistant director Dave Halls had a history of ignoring safety protocols. Maggie Goll previously worked with Halls on the Hulu series Into the Dark.

“He did not maintain a safe working environment,” Goll said in a complaint after the Rust shooting. “Sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked … safety meetings were nonexistent.”

The production team behind Rust said they did not know of any previous concerns about Halls’ safety record. Goll said several people complained about him during filming Into the Dark in 2019.

“The Prop Master frequently admonished Dave for dismissing the talent without returning props, weapon included, or failing to make safety announcements,” Goll’s complaint noted.

The shooting on Rust has forced many film and television productions to re-evaluate safety on sets. Though, many have pointed out this tragedy could have been avoided if everyone followed the current rules.

“Why, for the life of me, this low-budget film with producers who haven’t produced anything wouldn’t have hired for the armorer someone with experience,” George Clooney said recently. “Maybe they weren’t even using that gun to do target practice. But they had live ammo with dummies in her pack, and that is insane.”