Sag-Aftra defends Alec Baldwin: ‘An actor’s job is not to be a firearms expert’

Sag-Aftra has defended Alec Baldwin after he was charged with involuntary manslaughter over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust.

The US actors union have argued that Baldwin was not responsible for firearms safety on the film set, describing the charge as an “incorrect assessment of the actual duties of an actor on set”.

“An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert,” a statement said.

British Comedy Awards 2008 – London
Alec Baldwin (Ian West/PA)

“Performers train to perform, and they are not required or expected to be experts on guns or experienced in their use.

“The industry assigns that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee their use and handling in every aspect.”

Baldwin, the lead actor and a co-producer of the film, was pointing a gun at Ms Hutchins during a rehearsal in October 2021 when the weapon went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

The US actor has said he pulled back the hammer, but not the trigger, and the gun fired.

Baldwin was initially charged in January 2023 but those charges were formally dismissed three months later.

Last week, special prosecutors brought the case before a grand jury in Santa Fe after receiving a new analysis of the gun that was used, and Baldwin was re-charged.

The Sag-Aftra statement comes two days after Baldwin, through his lawyers Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, filed court documents demanding a “speedy trial”.

“Mr Baldwin is entitled to a fair and speedy disposition of the charges to minimise public vilification and suspicion and to avoid the hazards of proving his innocence that often arise after lengthy delays in prosecution,” the court documents said.

He has also demanded the New Mexico District Attorney “preserve all evidence” related to the case, and produce a written list “of all witnesses which the prosecutor intends to call at the trial”.

Meanwhile Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armourer, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case and is set to go on trial on February 21.