‘Rust’ director likely to testify against Alec Baldwin

The director of the ill-fated “Rust” — shot in the shoulder on the movie set — might testify against embattled actor Alec Baldwin at his involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico.

Director Joel Souza was injured in October 2021 when Baldwin fired his prop gun during rehearsal, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42. Souza is one of the 44 people on the prosecution’s witness list for the actor’s preliminary hearing later this month.

Hutchins, 42, died after Baldwin fired a prop gun in her direction, unaware it was loaded with a real bullet. Souza, 49, was hit in the shoulder and released from the hospital the following day.

Baldwin, 64, has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the on-set incident, but has repeatedly denied any culpability — and said he’ll fight the charges. The film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is facing the same charges.

"Rust" director Joel Souza is pictured at the "Crown Vic" screening at Village East Cinema in 2019.
Joel Souza was shot in the shoulder on the set of “Rust.”
Getty Images

Pictured is a photo of Halyna Hutchins.
Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed on set.
Getty Images for SAGindie

Court documents obtained by Deadline show that Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has lined up a slew of witnesses — many of whom worked on the film — to possibly testify against Baldwin.

Carmack-Altwies listed many employees who worked on the set of “Rust” and spoke out about dangerous conditions there both before and after the shooting.

“Rust” camera assistant Lane Luper, who quit the film over safety issues right before the fatal shooting, may be one of those called to testify. Luper has previously said safety procedures on the film were “fast and loose” — and that Hutchins’ death was the tragic end of a ”perfect storm.”

“What I put in my resignation letter was lax COVID policies, the housing situation driving to and from Albuquerque, and specifically, gun safety, a lack of rehearsals, a lack of preparing the crew for what we were doing that day,” Luper claimed.

Pictured is Alec  Baldwin on a movie set set dressed as a cowboy.
Alec Baldwin has promised to fight the charges.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office

Pictured is an aerial photo of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico..
The set of “Rust” was apparently plagued with safety issues.

Serge Svetnoy, the film’s gaffer who blamed “negligence and unprofessionalism” for Hutchins’ death, is also listed by the DA’s office and could testify.

Svetnoy alleged in a scathing Facebook post following the fatal shooting that producers, including Baldwin, wanted “to save a dime” and hired “people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job.”

Svetnoy also sued Baldwin personally for negligence, claiming he suffered emotional distress after nearly being hit by the bullet that killed Hutchins.

The DA also listed law enforcement officers and investigators as possible witnesses for the Feb. 24 hearing.

Noticeably absent from the list is the film’s first assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun. He took a plea deal to avoid a trial; details of his case are sealed.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were both charged “in the alternative,” meaning the jury will decide on which of the two charges — involuntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act — the defendants may be found guilty or innocent. 

The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 18 months. Under the second charge, both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would face a mandatory five year sentence if convicted.

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