The tragedy on the set of “Rust” should never have happened, says George Clooney.
On the latest “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast, the actor shared his thoughts on the accidental on-set shooting involving Alec Baldwin, which took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Clooney has experienced similar accidents, having been friends with both Jon-Erik Hexum, who fatally shot himself on the set of the series “Cover Up” in the ’80s, as well as Brandon Lee, who was shot and killed on the set of “The Crow” in the ’90s.
“That was a series of stupid things… My cousin Miguel was going to be his best man the next week at their wedding,” Clooney said, discussing Lee. “Brandon and I played ball and hung out at the Hollywood Y three days a week. We were buddies. You know, this was his big break.”
The actor continued, “The first unit, low-budget probably… I don’t even remember if the guy was even a union prop guy, sent it down to a second unit, a different group of shooting, and they wanted to use the same gun so they sent the gun down there. It was the guy’s girlfriend that was the prop assistant. They didn’t have dummy bullets so they made them by taking the gun powder out and putting the bullet back in… She takes the bullets out of the cylinder and one of the shells, one of the bullets, had lodged in the barrel of the gun.
“No one checks the barrel. No one notices of the six shells, one of them is missing the bullet and hands it to the first unit. They put a full load in it,” Clooney added. “The actor, which you never do with a full load, points it directly at Brandon and pulls the trigger and it’s like getting shot with a normal bullet. And killed him.”
As Clooney explained, whenever he is using firearms on a film set, he makes sure to follow protocol to make sure everything is completely safe.
“Every single time I’m handed a gun on the set … I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, I show it to the crew. Every single take, you hand it back to the armorer when you’re done and you do it again,” he said.
“I’ve been on sets for 40 years and the person that hands you the gun, the person that is responsible for the gun, is either the prop person or the armorer, period,” he added.
In the tragic events that unfolded on the set of “Rust”, Baldwin was handed a gun by the film’s assistant director, and was mistakenly told that it was not loaded. The 24-year-old armorer on the film has been noted for her relative inexperience in the job.
“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,” Clooney said.
Referring to unverified reports that crew on the set had been using prop guns for target practice, the actor said, “Maybe they weren’t even using that gun to do target practice, but they had live ammo with dummies in her pack. That is insane, it’s insane and it’s infuriating.”
Clooney added, “We need to be better at making the heads of department experienced and know what they’re doing. Because this is just infuriating. Every time I get handed a six gun, you point it at the ground and you fire. You squeeze it six times. Always.”
He also clarified that he doesn’t think “there’s any intent by anybody to do anything wrong,” but still stressed the importance of minding safety when working with guns.
“After Brandon [Lee] died, it really became a very clear thing: open the gun, look down the barrel, look in the cylinder, make sure,” Clooney said. “It’s a series of tragedies. But also, a lot of stupid mistakes.”