Tragedy struck Hollywood on Thursday, Oct. 21 when actor Alec Baldwin63, “discharged” a prop gun that fatally killed a crew member on his new film Rust. Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins died after the on-set incident while director Joel Souza42 was injured, Santa Fe Police confirmed to DEADLINE. Per the outlet, Baldwin was “unaware” of the “type of ammunition in the gun” which ultimately lead to the fateful accident. Police have confirmed the report, although the investigation into the incident is still ongoing. HollywoodLife has reached out to Alec’s rep for comment, but we did not yet receive a response.
In February, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed in New Mexico on behalf of Halyna’s husband Matthew and their 9-year-old son Andros. The lawsuit that the Rust Production team “committed major breaches of industry protocols” that “led to the senseless and tragic death” of Halyna. However, on October 5, Matthew revealed he had dropped the lawsuit after agreeing on a settlement, which included the film to resume with him as executive producer. Now Alec awaits for the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office investigation to conclude to see if he will be criminally charged.
In the meantime, here are 5 things about the Halyna, the cinematographer who tragically lost her life.
Halyna was a Los Angeles-based cinematographer
On her official website’s “about” section, Halyna described herself as a “Los Angeles based union cinematographer.” She also graduated from the AFI conservatory in 2015 and had since worked on a series of narrative shorts and features. The 42-year-old was also one of the 8 Female Cinematopgraphers for the 21st Century Fox DP Lab and was featured as one of the film industry’s “Rising Stars of Cinematography 2019” in American Cinematographer.
Speaking of her time at AFI, Halyna told the magazine that it made her “rethink” who she was as an artist and how she wanted to work in the industry. “One thing I learned is that cinematography is not something you do by yourself. It’s a group [project]. You need to develop your own vision, but the key to a successful film is communication with your director and your team.”
Haylna was born in Ukraine and spoke both Russian & English
Halyna describes herself as originally hailing from Ukraine and then growing up on “a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle” — what a unique locale! The late artist also shared that she had a graduate degree in journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine and previously dabbled in investigative journalism “with British documentary productions in Europe” before settling in to cinematography. She also spoke both Russian and English, setting her apart for work in the states.
Taking whatever production assistant jobs she could in America, Halyna also shared with American Cinematographer that she worked in fashion photography as well to learn the “aesthetics of lighting — how you create the mood, the feeling.”
She is survived by a husband and son
As mentioned, her husband Matthew had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alec and the producers of the film. At the time of her death, he tweeted, “Halyna inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words. Our loss is enormous, and we ask that the media please respect my family’s privacy as we process our grief. We thank everyone for sharing images and stories of her life.”
After he dropped the lawsuit, Matt said in a statement, “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.”
Meanwhile, Matt will continue to parent their only child, son Andros.
Her career received critical acclaim
Across Halyna’s Instagram and website reels are numerous stills and clips from short films and features she’s worked on, ranging in genre and aesthetics. Since finishing her graduate work at AFI in 2015, she completed two features, Snowbound in Colorado and Darlin’. “Right now, I’m just really interested in finding fruitful collaborations,” she told American Cinematographer regarding her quest for continued experience. “To me, it’s the collaborative effort between creative minds that elevate each other’s work.”
She added, “I’m just hoping to find my Wong Kar-wai,” citing her inspiration from the renowned Hong Kong director who specializes in bold, immersive, atmospheric works.
It’s no surprise Halyna was employed for a major feature starring an A-lister like Baldwin, considering her breadth of work she obtained over the years. In a post from Oct. 2020, the DP shared a poster from a film she photographed, Sunday’s Childwhich was accepted to a few film festivals while the horror feature, Darlin’premiered at the SXSW film festival in 2019. The film, directed by Pollyanna McIntosh (The Walking Dead), also played internationally at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Fantasia, London FrightFest, and more.
She stood in solidarity with the IATSE union
In some of Halyna’s last posts on Instagram, she shared photos from the New Mexico desert on the set of Rust. One of the shots — perhaps the most touching — was a large group pic of the film cast and crew as Halyna shouted out the IATSE, or The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union.
“Standing in #IAsolidarity with our @IATSE crew here in New Mexico on RUST,” Halyna wrote in the caption, reposting from another person working on the production. The strike, which honors the historic needs of the tireless workers in the industry who mostly operate behind the scenes, is still putting pressure on Hollywood to negotiate better working conditions and better pay.
Although we’re heartbroken by the tragedy of Halyna’s passing, her final days of living her passion and supporting her fellow artists to live their dreams with dignity and purpose is something to be acknowledged and remembered.