Hollywood is shaken after the death Thursday of Halyna Hutchins, a cinematographer who was working on the Western Rust when a firearm was discharged on the set by star Alec Baldwin, with an unknown projectile striking and killing Hutchins.
It had been reported the film’s writer and director, Joel Souza, was critically wounded in the incident, but actress and co-star Frances Fisher says that’s not the case.
In a tweet early Friday morning ET, Fisher said Souza is “out of the hospital,” and that quotes regarding Baldwin that ran in the Daily Beast “are incorrect.” The publication claimed the actor fired a prop gun believing it was loaded with blanks, and “did not know the prop contained live rounds.”
The Daily Beast also reported: “Although there were early reports that the gun contained live ammunition, the movie’s production company later said it contained blank rounds.”
An investigation into the incident is underway, and neither Baldwin nor anyone else involved has been criminally charged with any wrongdoing.
A firearm loaded with blank ammunition is still potentially deadly. One of the most notorious mishaps involving a weapon loaded with blanks happened on March 31, 1993, on the set of the film The Crow, where a rushed production led to the death of star Brandon Lee. A revolver was being used for a close-up, so prop bullets were needed to be seen in the pistol’s cylinder. One had broken off and stayed there, and when the pistol was chambered with a blank round, that force ejected the dummy slug, causing a mortal wound to Lee’s abdomen.
In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum fatally shot himself on the set of the CBS series Cover Up when he playfully put a gun loaded with blanks to his own head and fired. The blank’s wadding — material that helps seal a charge inside of a round — ejected with enough force to penetrate Hexum’s skull.
In 2008, a Utah teen named Tucker Thayer fatally shot himself with a .38 loaded with blanks for a high school production.
For safety and budgetary reasons, many filmmakers have now switched to digital muzzle flashes, which are added in post-production.
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