How Halyna Hutchins’ Husband Told Their Son She’d Been Shot on ‘Rust’ Set
Matt Hutchins, husband of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, is opening up about his wife’s shooting death on the set of “Rust.”
In October, Alec Baldwin, an actor and producer on the film, was holding the gun that discharged, killing the cinematographer and wounded writer-director Joel Souza on the set in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Matt opened up to “Today” anchor Hoda Kotb about losing Halyna, and how he broke the news to their 9-year-old son Andros. Hutchins also expressed how upset he was watching Baldwin speak about the tragedy in his sit-down with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in December.
EXCLUSIVE: “My heart sank right away.” -Matt Hutchins, husband of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, on the moment when he had to tell their 9-year-old son that his mother had been killed on the set of the movie “Rust.” https://t.co/tL2uv2M6Capic.twitter.com/2AooJw4thT
During Thursday’s exclusive interview with “Today,” Matt recalled the moment he found out Halyna was injured. "A member of the production team told me that Halyna had been shot. My heart sank right away," Hutchins said. "It was completely inexplicable to me that it could’ve happened at that moment, and the first thing I thought, I sat down and I said, 'I have to get my son,' because I had to be with him.”
He went on, "And so I rushed home, and on the way decided that we had to go to Santa Fe. When I got through to the doctor and spoke with him, and he detailed exactly what had happened and that she didn’t survive, I was heartbroken. And I knew that I had to tell my son right away when I saw him."
Hutchins decided to be straightforward with the heartbreaking news. "I just had to be very direct and blunt because going to pick him up and go to the airport to go to Santa Fe, I didn’t want him to think that we were going to be seeing her and having fun together and getting his hopes up.”
EXCLUSIVE: @hodakotb sits down with Matt Hutchins, who’s speaking out for the first time since his wife, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, was killed on the set of “Rust.” pic.twitter.com/mswQRlevxx
He added, “I told him, sitting together, that his mother had been shot and died. And, of course, he didn’t believe it right away. He didn’t want to believe it. I think that that kind of news you just have to say multiple times so that it can be believed. And so he believed it, and we cried together then."
Speaking of the close bond that Halyna had with Andros, Matt shared, "She just felt that connection and just loved him so much.”
Halyna would call Andros from Santa Fe every night. Matt explained, "They would get on a video and she would do everything that she could as a mom to reassure him. You know, just give him kisses. I think it helped him get to sleep every night knowing that she was thinking about him."
Matt and Halyna were married for 16 years, and he said he now wears her engagement ring. Opening up about their whirlwind romance, Hutchins said he proposed three months after they met and even traveled to see her in Ukraine to propose.
"And I got down on my knee, (and) I said, 'Let’s get married,'" he revealed. "It was way too fast for her. She said, 'I don’t know about this.' So I had to convince her."
Matt’s conversation with Hoda also turned to Baldwin, and Hutchins recalled meeting with Alec after Halyna’s death.
"Well, I feel like to understand that moment, you have to remember the shock we were in," he said. "I spoke with Mr. Baldwin and was just looking for a way through the storm. There were a lot of emotions, for sure. On both sides."
Baldwin also touched on the tragedy in his sit-down with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in December, which upset Hutchins.
Matt told Kotb, “Watching him, I just felt so angry. I had been overcome by this anger when I saw Halyna at the funeral home and it all really crystalized and so I was trying to manage that anger and it really came out when I was watching him.”
“I was just so angry to see him talk about her death so publicly in such a detailed way and then to not accept any responsibility after having just described killing her,” he said.
In Baldwin’s interview, the actor argued, “Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property. Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”
In Baldwin’s account, he “didn’t pull the trigger.” He explained, “I cock the gun. I go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?’ And then I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off. I let go of the hammer of the gun, the gun goes off.”
He insisted, “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them.”
Baldwin also described his interaction with Halyna moments before the shooting, saying, “She’s guiding me through how she wants me to hold the gun for this angle. I’m holding the gun where she told me to hold it, which ended up being aimed right below her armpit.”
When asked if he is putting the majority of the blame on Alec, Matt answered, “The idea that the person holding the gun and causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me.”
He noted, “But gun safety was not the only problem on that set. There were a number of industry standards that were not practiced and there’s multiple responsible parties.”
Hoda described how Alec had said, “Honest to God, if I felt I was responsible, I would have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don’t say that lightly.” Kotb described it as “feeling grief, but no guilt.”
Matt replied, “Almost sounds like he’s the victim, and hearing him blame Halyna in the interview and shift responsibility to others and seeing him cry about it, I just feel like, ‘Are we really supposed to feel bad about you, Mr. Baldwin?’”
Earlier this month, Halyna’s family and estate announced they are suing Baldwin and other “Rust” filmmakers involved in the on-set shooting.
Matt filed a wrongful death suit, claiming that Baldwin “recklessly shot and killed Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie ‘Rust.’”
The complaint, obtained by “Extra,” alleges that Baldwin “and the other Defendants in this case failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real guns to produce the movie ‘Rust,’ with fatal consequences.”
The complaint continues, “Halyna deserved to live and the Defendants had the power to prevent her death if they only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations.”
The complaint reads, “This lawsuit seeks justice for the losses of her survivors and to hold responsible those who caused her tragic death.”
The document also claims the production was “riddled with breaches of safety protocols that resulted in the presence of live ammunition on the set.”
Along with punitive damages, Halyna’s estate is seeking funeral and burial expenses, and compensatory damages for “the loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, guidance, training, assistance and moral support.”
In a press conference announcing the lawsuit, the family’s lawyer Brian Panish said, “He lost his long-term wife who was the love of his life, and his son lost a mother. It never should have happened.”
The family’s legal team has also released an animated video of what they think happened leading up to the tragic incident.
Panish added, “We went to the scene, we assessed the scene with experts, and we really dug into what we could. I think the video explains why Mr. Baldwin and others were responsible and are responsible for safety on the job site and why their reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures led to the death of Halyna Hutchins.”
In a statement to “Extra,” Aaron Dyer, a lawyer for Baldwin and his fellow producers, responded to the lawsuit, arguing that “any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false.”
“Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this unspeakable tragedy. We continue to cooperate with the authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the ‘Rust’ set in the first place,” Dyer continued.
“He, Halyna and the rest of the crew relied on the statement by the two professionals responsible for checking the gun that it was a ‘cold gun’ — meaning there is no possibility of a discharge, blank or otherwise. This protocol has worked on thousands of films, with millions of discharges, as there has never before been an incident on a set where an actual bullet harmed anyone. Actors should be able to rely on armorers and prop department professionals, as well as assistant directors, rather than deciding on their own when a gun is safe to use.”