“Losing her hurt every single one of us,” the Rust crew members wrote of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ death
Alec Baldwin is sharing an open letter co-signed by 25 crew members from Rust, defending the production after reports of concerning conditions and employee walk-offs prior to the fatal on-set shooting.
On Thursday morning, the actor/producer, 63, posted on Instagram the two-page letter, which began by clarifying that it had “not been sanctioned or influenced in any way by the producers” to be drafted. The crew members said in the letter that they wanted to “express a more accurate account” of their “workplace tragedy.”
While filming the Western movie at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Oct. 21, Baldwin held the firearm that discharged and fatally wounded cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. She was 42. There is an ongoing investigation into how live rounds came to be inside the revolver.
In the letter, Hutchins is remembered by her colleagues, who called her “the heart of our production.” They wrote, “Losing her hurt every single one of us. We are hurting from the loss of our togetherness, our spirit, and the loss of our labor. We are hurting for our friends that have been targeted by the public as they themselves grieve.”
The crew members acknowledged that the Rust production had “areas that were more challenging” and imperfect, though they maintained it was a “professional” set with “areas of brilliance.”
“The descriptions of Rust as a chaotic, dangerous, and exploitative workplace are false and distract from what matters the most: the memory of Halyna Hutchins, and the need to find modern alternatives to outdated industry firearm and safety practices,” reads the letter.
Days after the tragedy, a crew member who worked on the film told PEOPLE that there were “red flags” on set leading up to the incident and that the filming environment felt unsafe at times. Reports also mentioned people on set staged a walkout after some members of the camera crew wrote resignation letters the night before the incident.
In the new letter, these crew members said, “While it is true that a few crew members quit prior to the accident, the vast majority of us remained, never feeling the need to protest or quit. We were enjoying our workplace. Those disgruntled few do not represent the views of all of us.”
The letter claims that “working morale on set was high,” and that “from the director down to the production assistants, all departments worked well together, collaborating and helping each other achieve shared artistic goals.”
The crew member who previously spoke to PEOPLE said they personally felt it was “set etiquette” to “stay in your lane” and “not to say anything.”
“… We are supporting each other and cooperating with investigators,” the crew members said at the end of the open letter. “We kindly request that your speculation and generalizations about us and our colleagues be sympathetic until all investigation is concluded. We are grateful to our many friends and family that have reached out to us privately to offer compassion and support.”
The letter comes one week after Baldwin’s emotional ABC News interview aired in which the actor told George Stephanopoulos that he has been “struggling physically” in the wake of the shooting but that he doesn’t feel guilt for what happened.
Alec Baldwin Says Career ‘Could Be’ Over After Rust Tragedy, ‘Can’t Imagine’ Acting with Guns Again
“Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me,” he said, adding, “I mean, honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible. I don’t say that lightly.”
“I would go to any lengths to undo what happened,” Baldwin said at the start of the interview.
“I want to make sure that I don’t come across like I’m the victim because we have two victims here. All of what happened that day leading up to this event was precipitated on one idea, and that idea is that Halyna and I had something profound in common,” he added, “that is we both assumed the gun was empty, other than those dummy rounds.”
On Nov. 17, Baldwin and Rust producers were named in a lawsuit filed by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, who was allegedly standing in the line of fire when the gun went off. An investigation is ongoing.