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Under fire: Actors' union criticized for defending Alec Baldwin in ongoing ‘Rust’ shooting case

By Stew Davidson
January 29, 2024

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is under scrutiny for defending Alec Baldwin in the Rust shooting controversy.

The recent indictment of Baldwin for involuntary manslaughter in the tragic shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the Rust movie set has sparked a wave of controversy.

SAG-AFTRA's stance in support of Baldwin, contradicting the grand jury's decision, has raised questions and criticisms from various quarters, including Hutchins' family lawyer, Gloria Allred, as the Washington Examiner reported.

Union's stance on actor responsibilities

SAG-AFTRA issued a statement challenging the grand jury's understanding of an actor's responsibilities on set.

The union emphasized that actors are not expected to be firearms or weapons experts. They highlighted that firearms used on sets are managed under the guidance of professionals responsible for their safe operation.

However, this statement did not specifically mention Baldwin, leaving room for interpretation and debate about the actor's role and responsibilities in the incident.

Differing views on actor accountability

Allred, representing Hutchins' family, strongly disagreed with the union's perspective.

She argued that the notion of an actor not being responsible when handling a gun on set is contrary to common sense and legal principles.

Allred stressed the importance of respecting the grand jury's decision and allowing the criminal justice system to proceed.

The case against Baldwin, stemming from the October 2021 shooting that resulted in Hutchins' death, has brought to light the complexities of on-set safety and actor responsibilities. Baldwin, who has already settled with Hutchins's family, is also facing a lawsuit from 'Rust' script supervisor Mamie Mitchell.

Legal implications and ongoing litigation

In New Mexico, where the shooting occurred, involuntary manslaughter carries a potential sentence of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Baldwin's involvement in the case has led to a cross-complaint in the civil lawsuit, as he seeks to absolve himself of fault.

The unfolding legal battles and the actors' union's defense of Baldwin continue to stir debate and concern within the entertainment industry and beyond.

The incident has highlighted the need for clear guidelines and responsibilities regarding the use of firearms on movie sets.

Industry response and safety concerns

The Rust shooting incident has sparked a broader discussion about safety protocols and responsibilities on film sets.

The tragedy has led to calls for stricter safety measures and clearer guidelines for actors and crew members when handling firearms during filming.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers present in the filmmaking process, particularly when it involves the use of real firearms. The industry's response to this incident will likely shape future safety standards and practices in film production.

Public and industry reactions

The public as well as industry professionals have expressed a range of reactions to the incident and the subsequent legal proceedings.

While some support the union's defense of Baldwin, others argue for greater accountability and stricter safety measures on set.

The debate extends beyond the specifics of the Rust case, touching on broader issues of workplace safety, responsibility, and the role of unions in protecting their members.

The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the film industry and its safety protocols.


  • SAG-AFTRA's apparent defense of Alec Baldwin in the Rust shooting case has sparked controversy and debate.
  • The legal proceedings against Baldwin and the differing views on actor responsibilities highlight the complexities of on-set safety.
  • The incident has led to discussions about industry safety standards and the need for clearer guidelines for handling firearms on movie sets.