Alec Baldwin says comments about safety protocols on movie sets from actors including George Clooney did not help in the aftermath of the fatal shooting that occurred during the filming of Rust earlier this year.
"How do you respond to actors like George Clooney who say that every time they were handed a gun, they checked it themselves?" the 60-year-old Good Morning America anchor asked.
"Well, there were a lot of people who felt it necessary to contribute some comment to the situation, which really didn't help the situation," Baldwin began. "At all."
"If your protocol is you check the gun every time, well, good for you. I've probably handled weapons as much as any other actor in films with an average career. Again, shooting or being shot by someone," he continued. "And in that time, I had a protocol and it never let me down."
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Baldwin held the gun that discharged and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on Oct. 21. Baldwin explained in the interview that he never pulled the trigger — he just cocked it and "let go of the hammer" when it fired.
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"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 or the armorer, period," Clooney said on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast.
"Now 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 to, I show it to the crew. Every single take you had to back to the armorer when you're done," he explained. "You do it again and part of it is because of what happened to Brandon, everyone does it. Everybody knows and maybe Alec did that, hopefully he did do that."
During his interview with Stephanopoulos, Baldwin walked through his personal procedure when handling a gun on set. The star said that the prop professional would take the weapon from him if he maneuvered any of its mechanics, and reset it.
.@GStephanopoulos presses Alec Baldwin on fatal 'Rust' accident: "Why did you choose, in your 40 years [in the industry], not to check the gun yourself?" https://t.co/zYugqKhIVW #BaldwinABC pic.twitter.com/Y9eTITwliE
— ABC News (@ABC) December 3, 2021
"The prop person said, 'Don't do that,' when I was young," he explained. "And they'd say, 'One thing you would need to understand is we don't want the actor to be the last line of defense against any catastrophic breach of safety with the gun. My job is to make sure the gun is safe and then I hand you the gun and I declare the gun is safe. The crew is not relying on you to say that it's safe. They're relying on me to say that it's safe.' "
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"When that person who is charged with that job handed me the weapon, I trusted them," the Academy Award nominee continued. "And I never had a problem."
Digging deeper, Stephanopoulos asked what Baldwin feels is the actor's responsibility is in such a situation.
"I guess that's a tough question because the actor's responsibility going this day forward is very different than it was the day before that," Baldwin said of how times have changed.
"First of all I can't imagine that I'd ever do a movie that had a gun in it again," he explained, before adding "The actor's responsibility is to do what the prop armorer tells them to do."
The film's armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has defended her work, saying through her attorney Jason Bowles in a statement previously shared with PEOPLE that she did not think live bullets would end up on the Rust set "in a million years," and she did not know how they got there.
"Hannah did everything in her power to ensure a safe set. She inspected the rounds that she loaded into the firearms that day. She always inspected the rounds," Bowles said, in part.