EXCLUSIVE: (UPDATED with Alec Baldwin statement): Rust Movie Productions LLC and its Rust star and producer Alec Baldwin have reached a settlement with the estate of slain cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. As part of the peace, her husband Matthew Hutchins will executive produce Rust, which will return to production in January 2023 with the original cast.
The Hutchins family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit February 15 over the shooting of Hutchins that occurred on the set of the in Western on October, 21, 2021, when Baldwin discharged a prop gun after being informed by the production’s assistant director David Halls that the weapon was “cold.”
“We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of Rust, including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC. As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed,” Matthew Hutchins said Wednesday morning.“The filming of Rust, which I will now executive produce, will resume with all the original principal players on board in January 2023,” Hutchins added of the most confidential agreement.
“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.”
The culmination of weeks of negotiations, today’s news comes as the final report of the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into Hutchins’ death and what really went down at the Bonanza Creek Ranch location that terrible day is expected to be handed over soon to local District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. Several Rust crew members including armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have already filed ongoing civil lawsuits of their own in New Mexico and California. However, Wednesday’s agreement between the Hutchins family and Baldwin and other Rust producers could shift the legal landscape for those civil cases and any possible criminal charges from the Santa Fe D.A.
Rust Movie Productions, LLC, through its attorney, Melina Spadone of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said today: “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.”
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, added: “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.”
Later this morning, the Oscar-nominated actor of The Cooler added this on Instagram: “We are pleased to announce today the settlement of the civil case filed on behalf of the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. 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.”
Joel Souza, Director of Rust, said: “Those of us who were lucky enough to have spent time with Halyna knew her to be exceedingly talented, kind, creative, and a source of incredible positive energy. I only wish the world had gotten to know her under different circumstances, as it surely would have through her amazing work. 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. 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 Hutchins original lawsuit in February claimed that “Defendant Baldwin, the Producers, and the Rust Production Companies were aware of firearms safety issues that had occurred on the set of Rust and did not take action to correct the situation and ensure that basic gun safety rules were followed on October 21, 2021…Had Defendant Baldwin, the Producers, and the Rust Production Companies taken adequate precautions to ensure firearm safety on the set of Rust or if basic firearm safety rules had been followed on the set of Rust on October 21, 2021, Halyna Hutchins would be alive and well, hugging her husband and nine-year old son.”
Close to a year since the tragic incident occurred, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office has yet to charge anyone.
Last month, Deadline obtained a letter from Santa Fe D.A. Carmack-Altwies to the New Mexico Board of Finance requesting $635,000 to prosecute as many as four individuals with criminal and homicide charges related to the Rust tragedy (the DA was granted $317,750). The DA said in her letter that “one of the possible defendants is well known movie actor Alec Baldwin.” Nikas, speaking on behalf of Baldwin, responded to the DA’s letter “that it would be premature to discuss the case because they had not yet reviewed the file or deliberated about their charging decision.”
“It is irresponsible to report otherwise,” Nikas blasted at the time. “The DA has made clear that she has not received the sheriff’s report or made any decisions about who, if anyone, might be charged in this case.”
Nikas stated in April that an New Mexico OSHA report “exonerates” Baldwin. That agency fined Rust Productions, LLC a maximum allowable $136,793 after a six-month investigation that found a “willful and serious” violation of workplace safety procedures.
In an ABC news interview with George Stephanopoulos last December, Baldwin insisted he never actually pulled the trigger of the gun that took Hutchins’ life during a quick-draw rehearsal move in a church location on the set of Rust.
Baldwin also told Stephanopoulos, “I have 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.”