A man who was almost hired to be the armorer on the set of the Western film “Rust” is now speaking out about his experience.
In October 2021, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed when a gun held by actor Alec Baldwin went off. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the incident.
Both Baldwin and “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. First assistant director David Halls pled guilty to the charge of the negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Armorer Scott Rasmussen Reveals He Had Concerns With ‘Rust’ Production
Although Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was hired by the “Rust” production team, it looks like she was not their first pick. Armorer Scott Rasmussen, who has been working in the industry since the 1980s, told KRQE News that he had been initially selected to work as the armorer on the film set.
For the past few years, Rasmussen has been working as both an armorer and a prop master for several Hollywood stars, including Sam Elliot, John Travolta, and Eric Roberts. Rasmussen said that he had been offered the job for “Rust” but had concerns regarding how many firearms would be present on set.
“I felt comfortable with doing it until I read the script and it was a lot of guns everywhere throughout the show,” he told the local news affiliate. “So, I felt it would be safer for me just to be the armorer on the show.”
He said that “Rust” producers were okay with him just being the armorer and not the prop master. They told him that they would get back to him with more details, but unfortunately, it looks like he never heard back.
“She said ok, great. We’ll get back to you Monday about that position, and they never got back to me,” he said, noting that they went with someone else who had much less experience to take on both jobs.
“I wholeheartedly believe they saw that I had the experience so they probably assumed that I’d be wanting an arm and a leg and so, they go with somebody that they got for a relatively cheap price,” he said, adding, “They decided to save a few pennies here and there and we, unfortunately, had a bad accident happen.”
Scott Rasmussen Explains How To Tell The Difference Between A Live And Dummy Round
However, ten days before cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was tragically killed on set, Rasmussen said that he had been asked to work as an armorer on set. At the time, he had already been working on another project.
“And I said, well, I already took another show, why are you asking me now? And he said because we’re dissatisfied with the person that we hired, that she was not following safety guidelines,” Rasmussen alleged.
“I was mad. I was really mad because they had the opportunity to hire me and they didn’t,” he added. Although it’s unclear how live bullets ended up in the gun that Alec Baldwin was holding during the scene, Rasmussen said that a quick listening test is all that is required to know which is a real bullet and which is a dummy round.
“A live cartridge, shake that near your ear… you hear nothing,” Rasmussen said while noting that the two can look surprisingly similar. “A dummy cartridge has the rattle. We have a little BB in there so it has the rattle. So, it’s very easy to discern between a live cartridge and a dummy cartridge.”
Rasmussen said that everyone on the “Rust” set should have been able to verify the round, but only the armorer and the actor should touch the gun. Instead, it was first assistant director David Halls who handed Baldwin the gun that day for the rehearsal.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Was Reportedly ‘Stretched Very Thin’ On Set
In early February, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, appeared on TMZ Live to discuss the two charges of involuntary manslaughter that she is facing in the death of Halyna Hutchins.
Bowles alleged that Hannah was “stretched very thin” on set and revealed that she had difficulty focusing on her armory duties when she was also expected to be the prop master.
Gutierrez-Reed allegedly emailed the production team asking to step back from props to focus on her duties as an armorer; however, they denied her request.