“Every single time I’m handed a gun on the set — every time — they hand me a gun, I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it too, I show it to the crew,” Clooney said in the latest episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast before describing the process in further detail.
“You hand it back to the armor when you’re done,” he added. “Maybe Alec did that — hopefully he did do that. But the problem is dummies are tricky because they look like real [rounds]. They got a little tiny hole in the back [from which] somebody’s [removed] the gunpowder.”
Clooney explained that every time he’s handed a gun with six cartridges, he points it at the ground and pulls the trigger six times. He said it would be “insane” not to.
Clooney also reflected on his own experiences with on-set tragedies, specifically when his friend Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot and killed himself while working the set of CBS’s Cover Up back in 1984, and in the 90s when his friend Brandon Lee was shot and killed by another actor on the set of The Crow.
“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,” Clooney regarding Lee’s death. “It was the guy’s girlfriend that was the prop assistant. They didn’t have dummy bullets so they made them by taking the gunpowder 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.”
He added that at no point did anyone check the barrel of the gun, or notice that one of the six bullets was missing. “They put a full load in it. 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,” he said.
After describing the series of “stupid mistakes” that led to his friend’s death, Clooney added that responsibility for the Rust shooting doesn’t fall on Baldwin’s shoulders. “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 said that the film’s inexperienced production team clearly didn’t hire an aromorer with proper experience either. “We need to be better at making sure the heads of our department are experienced and know what they’re doing,” Clooney said.
“Why for the life of me, this low budget film with producers that haven’t produced anything wouldn’t have hired, for the armorer, someone with experience. That is insane. It’s insane. It’s infuriating,”he added.
While rehearsing for a scene for the Western in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Baldwin fired a bullet from his prop gun, striking the film’s director of photography Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza. Hutchins died while being airlifted to a hospital. After her death, Halyna’s father also blamed the film crew for the death of her daughter, and not Baldwin. “We still can’t believe Halyna is dead and her mother is going out of her mind with grief,” Anatoly Androsovych told British tabloid The Sun. “But I don’t hold Alec Baldwin responsible — it is the responsibility of the props people who handle the guns.”
Baldwin’s own brother even chimed in on Monday, saying his older brother was being used as a political scapegoat. “This is what he faces because he’s opinionated and he’s strong-headed and he has really staunch views on certain things,” Daniel Baldwin said on The Domenick Nati Show. “Those people who don’t like him will take advantage of him and persecute his wife. He’s a target.”