In the wake of the accidental shooting that took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western film “Rust” Oct. 21, a reckoning on set safety in the film and television industry is taking place, with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars sounding off on the tragedy and what it means for productions moving forward.
A civil lawsuit was filed Nov. 10 on behalf of Serge Svetnoy, a chief lightning technician on the film and a close friend of Hutchins. Svetnoy’s suit, the first to be filed in the shooting incident, names the film’s star and producer Alec Baldwin, set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, assistant director Dave Halls, Rust Movie Productions and other companies and individuals involved with the film.
Svetnoy is seeking damages and a jury trial and alleges general negligence against all defendants.
On the red carpet at the American Cinematheque Awards on Nov. 19, Scarlett Johansson told USA TODAY that the shooting was “such a terribly tragic incident and a totally preventable loss, which makes it even more heavy.”
“I’ve handled so many different weapons,” said the longtime Marvel star. “I’ve used many rubber guns. There’s no reason not to use a rubber gun. So to me, it just feels like it will forever shift the way we handle that kind of stuff.”
The actor told Variety during the Los Angeles premiere of the Netflix action-comedy “Red Notice” that he “was heartbroken” after learning of the incident and said he was calling for some changes on his films with Seven Bucks Productions, the company he co-founded in 2012.
“I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you, without an absence of clarity here, that any movie that we have moving forward with Seven Bucks Productions … we won’t use real guns at all,” Johnson said. “We’re going to switch over to rubber guns, and we’re going to take care of it in post.”
Johnson, who last starred in “Jumanji” and “Jungle Cruise,” is preparing to release the DC Universe movie “Black Adam” next year.
“When something like this happens of this magnitude (that is) this heartbreaking, I think the most prudent thing and the smartest thing to do is just pause for a second and really reexamine how you’re going to move forward and how we’re going to work together,” Johnson added.
During an appearance on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast Monday, Clooney, who’s starred in action films such as “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Out of Sight” and “Three Kings,” told Maron that transparency and caution are crucial when handling firearms on set.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on a set … I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, show it to the crew: every single take, you hand it back to the armorer when you’re done,” Clooney said.
Clooney also said what happened on the “Rust” set is a sobering reminder to ensure film crews are always top of the line.
“Why for the life of me this low-budget film, with producers who haven’t produced anything, wouldn’t have hired for the armorer someone with experience … it’s insane, it’s infuriating,” Clooney said. “We need to be better at making sure that the heads of our departments are … experienced and know what they’re doing.”
“The Harder They Fall” star, who practiced his horse stunts for the Netflix film at Bonanza Creek Ranch, the site of the “Rust” shooting, said adding effects in post-production or discontinuing the use of blanks in prop guns are possible alternatives for creating safer sets.
“My heart really just goes out to everybody involved,” Majors told USA TODAY. “We shouldn’t do it again (use blanks) until we know that we can make it absolutely safe.”
Jolie, who has appeared in action films such as “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Salt,” told The Times in an interview published Nov. 4 that gun safety on set requires a precise and earnest approach.
“At this moment, the grief and the tragedy of that accident is quite overwhelming,” Jolie said. “I’ve always been very careful because I’ve had to work with guns a lot. The way I’ve worked or checked when I’m directing, there are certain procedures: You have to take it very seriously.”
Contributing: Elise Brisco, Anika Reed, Marco della Cava, Charles Trepany
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Rust’ shooting: The Rock, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie react
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