Nearly a year after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on the set of the film “Rust” in an incident involving a prop gun fired by producer and actor Alec Baldwin in New Mexico, Hutchins’ family and Baldwin have reached an undisclosed settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit.
As part of the settlement, filming will resume next year on the low budget Western with the cinematographer’s husband as executive producer, according to a statement from Hutchins.
Joel Souza, the director injured alongside Halyna, will also return to the project, he said. The case will be dismissed as part of the settlement, which is subject to court approval in New Mexico.
“The filming of Rust, which I will now executive produce, will resume with all the original principal players on board, in January 2023,” Matthew Hutchins, Halyna Hutchins' husband, said in a statement Wednesday. “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin). 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.”
Nonetheless, the resumption of “Rust” is sure to be controversial. Hutchins’ death sent shockwaves through the film industry, which is still grappling with how to respond to the accident. Hollywood has not seen a case like this since 2014, when Sarah Jones, a camera assistant, was killed during unauthorized filming on a train track in Georgia.
The settlement announcement comes days after Baldwin provided data from his cellphone to law enforcement investigators and as Santa Fe 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies considers whether to bring criminal charges in the case.
In a late August letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance, Carmack-Altwies asked for additional funding for her office to potentially pursue several high-profile prosecutions. The letter, which was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, said that she may prosecute up to four people, including Baldwin, who fired the weapon that killed Hutchins, 42, leaving behind her husband and their 10-year-old son.
The criminal probe is separate from the civil lawsuit, which Hutchins’ family filed earlier this year. It was unclear Wednesday whether the undisclosed financial settlement will have any bearing on the outcome of any criminal case.
The settlement brings to a close just one prong of the fallout from the “Rust” tragedy. The production and Baldwin still face multiple lawsuits in Los Angeles and New Mexico.
“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,” Baldwin wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. Baldwin has denied wrongdoing in the accident.
Several other producers as well as the company Rust Productions were also defendants in the lawsuit.
“We are pleased the parties came together to resolve this matter, which, subject to court approval, marks an important step forward in celebrating Halyna’s life and honoring her work,” said Rust Movie Productions LLC through its attorney, Melina Spadone of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
In a statement, Souza said he planned to return to the film.
“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,” he said in a statement. “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.”
The lawsuit was filed in February in Santa Fe against the film’s production companies, producers, other members of the crew and Baldwin.
The lawsuit alleged that Baldwin and other producers of the low-budget film sacrificed crew members’ safety by hiring inexperienced crew members and disregarding safety concerns expressed earlier by camera crew operators.
The suit named armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, alleging she was responsible for maintaining the weapons on set and did not verify that the revolver or ammunition were safe before first assistant director Dave Halls handed the gun to Baldwin. The complaint also accused Halls of failing to verify the revolver was safe.
Attorneys for the Hutchins family also singled out Baldwin, who, according to the lawsuit, refused training in the “cross-draw” maneuver that he was practicing that day — just four feet from Hutchins and other crew members. Baldwin has denied culpability and said he did not pull the trigger that discharged the bullet that struck Hutchins.
The other defendants in the civil case, including Gutierrez Reed and Halls, did not appear to be part of the settlement. However, if the judge approves the settlement, the allegations against the other parties will also be resolved.