“Rust” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, who was “the first to call 911” and was “standing close” to Halyna Hutchins when she was fatally shot by actor Alec Baldwin on-set in New Mexico last month, has filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and the film’s other producers.
She alleges the script had never required the actor to cock and fire the loaded gun that killed the cinematographer and injured film director Joel Souza.
“Mr. Baldwin chose to play Russian roulette with a loaded gun without checking it and without having the armorer do so. His behavior and that of the producers … were intentional acts and/or omissions, without any just cause or excuse and with utter disregard of the consequences,” stated her complaint.
The lawsuit — the second to be filed over the incident — stated that Mitchell was standing less than 1.2 meters (4 feet) away from Baldwin when he fired the gun. Consequently, she “sustained serious physical trauma and shock and injury,” as well as “extreme mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering.”
A memorial to cinematographer Halyna Hutchinson who was fatally shot by actor Alec Baldwin on the set of ‘Rust’
‘Taken away the joy in my life’
At an emotional press conference, a teary Mitchell accompanied by her lawyer Gloria Allred — a prominent women’s rights advocate in the US — said she has been reliving the episode ever since, which has left her depressed and “frightened of the future.”
“This violent tragedy has taken away the joy in my life,” she added.
Other defendants listed in Mitchell’s lawsuit include the armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the assistant director David Halls, and several production companies.
Mitchell’s suit comes a week after the film’s head of lighting, Serge Svetnoy, filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and others, alleging negligence that caused him “severe emotional distress” that would haunt him forever.
Describing Hutchins as a close friend, Svetnoy recalled how the bullet that killed her had narrowly missed him, and how he held her head as she died. It was the ninth film that they both had worked on together, and Svetnoy shared that he had taken the job despite the low pay at Hutchins’ request.
“They should never, ever, have had live rounds on this set,” said Gary Dordick, Svetnoy’s attorney, at a news conference on November 10.
Sabotage speculation dismissed
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, said earlier this month that he believes “somebody who would do that would want to sabotage the set, want to prove a point, want to say they’re disgruntled, they’re unhappy.”
Yet, Santa Fe county district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who is the prosecutor investigating the shooting, has rejected the conspiracy theories though she has revealed that more than one live round was found on set.
Baldwin and the other parties have yet to issue comments related to the lawsuits. The actor has not yet reacted to the speculations of sabotage either, having only said that he welcomed further debate about gun safety protocols on film sets following what he called “a one in a trillion event.”
Duty of care on set
Speaking on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast on November 16, the Oscar winner described Hutchins’ death as “infuriating,” more so because strict gun safety protocols have been imposed on film and TV sets since the deaths of his friends, actors Jon-Erik Hexum and Brandon Lee in 1984 and 1993, respectively.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on the set — every time — they hand me a gun, I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, I show it to the crew,” Clooney said. “Every single take.”
Careful not to cast aspersions on his colleague, Clooney did question whether “Rust” producers might have “skimped” on costs, since the film had employed the 24-year-old Gutierrez-Reed to serve as its head armorer, with experience in this role from just one other major film.
Similarly, actor Matthew McConaughey told the AFP news agency in an interview last month that as an actor using a gun, he “personally would try to always take even more steps,” like checking the weapon himself.
“You can’t over-confirm it,” the Oscar winner said.
Edited by: Elizabeth Grenier