Alec Baldwin Explains How the Gun on 'Rust' Set Could've Gone Off If He Didn't Pull the Trigger

The actor made the statements on Chris Cuomo's podcast days before the FBI's forensic report surfaced.

Alec Baldwin has offered an explanation as to how the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust could have been fired without him pulling the trigger, but he insisted to Chris Cuomo that there's a much bigger question in play.

During an interview on The Chris Cuomo Project podcast that dropped Tuesday, the 64-year-old actor doubled down that he did not pull the trigger on the weapon he used during rehearsal that would ultimately fire a live bullet, killing Hutchins and injuring the film's director, Joel Souza, in October 2021.

"This did not come from me, this came from the D.A.'s Office themselves," Baldwin said when asked how a gun could be fired without someone pulling the trigger. "You're familiar with what fanning a gun is? Have you heard of that phrase, fanning the gun? So, if you pull the hammer back, and you don’t lock the hammer; if you pull the hammer back pretty far -- in old Western movies you’d see someone fan the hammer of the gun-- the hammer didn’t lock; you pulled it back to an extent where it would fire the bullet without you pulling the trigger, without you locking the hammer."

Baldwin said the principal safety officer on the set "declared that the gun was safe when he handed" him the gun. For good measure, the actor repeated the statement before bringing up what he says should be the only question that needs to be asked in this death investigation.

"The man who's the principal safety officer on the set of the film declared that the gun was safe when he handed it to me," he said. "The person who was the principal safety officer of the film declared in front of the entire assemblage, ‘This is a cold gun.' Now, why did he say that if he didn’t know and he hadn’t checked? The point is, all of us were told that everything was cool and you could relax and we’re working with a gun that’s safe to rehearse with. He explained it to me, effectively, exactly what can happen if you pull the hammer back and let it go if there’s a live round. See, there’s only one question to ask here -- who put a live round in the gun? That’s it. There is no other question to ask."

Baldwin's interview was filmed days before the FBI forensic report surfaced over the weekend. In that report, obtained by ET, the FBI said its accidental discharge testing determined the gun used in the shooting -- a .45 colt caliber F.lli Pietta single-action revolver -- couldn't have gone off without the trigger being pulled.

The report stated that, even with the hammer in the quarter-and half-cock positions, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger." And, with the hammer fully cocked, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional." Furthermore, with the hammer de-cocked on a loaded chamber, the gun was able to detonate a primer "without a pull of the trigger when the hammer was struck directly," which the report stated as normal for this type of revolver.

Since the forensic report surfaced, Baldwin's attorneys, Luke Nikas, addressed the forensic report's findings in a statement to ET. 

"The critical report is the one from the medical examiner, who concluded that this was a tragic accident. This is the third time the New Mexico authorities have found that Alec Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on the set, that he was told by the person in charge of safety on the set that the gun was 'cold,' and believed the gun was safe," Nikas said. "The FBI report is being misconstrued. The gun fired in testing only one time -- without having to pull the trigger -- when the hammer was pulled back and the gun broke in two different places. The FBI was unable to fire the gun in any prior test, even when pulling the trigger, because it was in such poor condition."

Additionally, the attorney for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film's armorer, released a lengthy statement to ET that read, in part, "The newly released FBI reports show the revolver was in good working order and that Baldwin had to have pulled the trigger to fire the revolver, directly contradicting his prior statements and those of Assistant Director Halls, through his attorney, who also said Baldwin didn’t pull the trigger."

Baldwin first denied pulling the trigger of the prop gun during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America back in December 2021 in his first sit-down interview since the tragedy.

Baldwin, who is entangled with a number of lawsuits stemming from the fatal shooting, also addressed his liability as one of the producers of the film.

"It depends on what grade of producer you are," he told Cuomo. "There are managerial producers who raise the money, and spend the money and hire people. And there are creative producers who come in, and the only authorities they have are over script, casting, that’s the category I fall on."

When told he's being sued just the same, Baldwin said, "Well, the production’s getting sued. I’m one of the five producers that is named in the lawsuit. And we’re all indemnified by an insurance policy."

Baldwin also addressed whether the set was safe. Reed had previously claimed in her January lawsuit that the props manager "had an accidental/negligent discharge of a weapon on set, firing a blank round at her foot" some five days prior to Hutchins' fatal shooting

"There are people I spoke to that I admire and respect and I said to them, ‘Did you think this was an unsafe set?’ and they said no," Baldwin insisted,. "And I had no experience myself when I was there that it was an unsafe set, ever, until that moment, that day that happened; when someone handed me a prop weapon and told me, 'This is safe to use.'"

As for where the investigation currently stands, the First Judicial District Attorney's Office in New Mexico has not filed any charges in Hutchins' death. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office -- which has received the FBI's forensic report -- said detectives from the Suffolk County Police Department in New York are actively assisting its office and the D.A.'s Office in obtaining, processing, and disclosing Baldwin's phone records. The Sheriff's Office says those records are forthcoming. 

Once Sheriff's detectives complete their review of the Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) reports and once the phone records are received and reviewed by detectives, Sheriff Adan Mendoza said, the final Sheriff's Office investigative case file will be forwarded to the District Attorney for review and final charging decisions.