Baldwin film cast member: Production was rushed, crew overworked before fatal shooting

Ian Hudson, a New Mexico-raised actor who cast as an outlaw in ‘Rust’, took a selfie on set Oct. 3. He is now reconsidering an acting career following the death on set of Halyna Hutchins last week. (Photo courtesy Ian Hudson)

Ian Hudson stared down four pistols and a shotgun Oct. 3, bracing for his on-camera death for the movie “Rust,” filmed southwest of Santa Fe.

Hudson raised his pistol, inviting a hail of fake gunfire — at least 22 blanks fired by actors about 20 feet away out of antique, fully-functioning firearms, he said.

The gunfire spat burning cardboard and other tiny projectiles at him, Hudson said, some of which stung his face. Despite the pain, he depicted his character, a drunk outlaw, dying from his wounds. Getting hit with tiny shrapnel on a set is often just part of the job, he said.

The scene wrapped, so Hudson, who is from New Mexico, could finally leave after a 12-hour day. As he left the set, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins congratulated him on his work, he said.

“She was one of the last people that I spoke to on set at the end of the day, and she commended me for a job well done,” he told Source New Mexico. “She made me feel really good about my performance and even took a selfie with me.”

Hudson said he keeps thinking about that day, that interaction and especially those pistols. It’s “very possible” that one of those same guns killed Hutchins as actor Alec Baldwin practiced with it and prepared to film a scene Oct. 21, he said.

“What really shook me hearing the news of Halyna’s death,” Hudson said, “was that could have been me. That could have been any one of my friends on set.”

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the fatal shooting, which also injured director Joel Souza. News of Hutchins’ death spread worldwide and fueled conversation about working conditions in the film industry.

Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene in which he points a handgun at the camera when the gun went off, according to a search warrant affidavit. Hutchins was near the camera. Investigators still have not said exactly what type of projectile was in the gun.

The film has a reported budget of $6 million to $7 million and is just the latest big-name film to shoot in New Mexico, a state with a newly flourishing film industry and new site of Netflix’s $1 billion production studio.

Hudson’s role was the biggest he’d landed in his career as an actor. He had five lines, the crew spent a full day on his scene, and his character’s death affected the plot. It was a big step forward, he said, that brought him close to big stars he admired.

But Hudson, 32, is now reconsidering acting as a career, he said, which he’s pursued since graduating high school. And he is speaking out in hopes the executives in charge of productions like “Rust”’ stop treating employees as interchangeable cogs in a money-making machine.

“The higher-ups need to pay more attention to how they would feel if they were in the position of the cast and crew working 12-plus hours,” he said. “They need to put themselves in their shoes and think about these people’s families and these people’s lives. For them it’s about making money and saving money to reach their deadline.”

‘Faster and faster’

There was nothing noticeably lax about the safety standards on the “Rust” set, Hudson said, which is kind of the point. He’s had parts in other local productions, like “Manhattan” and “Longmire,” and he said he didn’t immediately notice anything different.

In fact, he overheard director Joel Souza praise the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, for dutifully calling out when weapons were armed with blanks or were disarmed. The director told her she was well on top of things amid the breakneck pace, Hudson said.

“I thought the same thing,” he said. “She was going with all the safety protocols. And she was moving at the speed that they were pushing us for, which continued to move faster and faster.” Read more