The actor Alec Baldwin fiercely insisted he was not to blame in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of a Western being filmed in New Mexico, claiming that another person had accidentally placed a live round in the gun that went off in his grasp as he was rehearsing a scene.
“Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” Mr. Baldwin said in a television interview that was broadcast on Thursday night. “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”
Mr. Baldwin made the comments in an emotional ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos, the first time that Mr. Baldwin has publicly given an account of what happened in October. The actor’s description of the episode may cast greater scrutiny on crew members and suppliers and the question of who was responsible for safeguarding firearms in the low-budget production.
In the interview, excerpts from which had been released on Wednesday, Mr. Baldwin also said that he did not pull the trigger of the gun he was practicing with on the set of “Rust” when it fired a live round.
“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them — never,” Mr. Baldwin said.
The fatal shooting took place on Oct. 21 near Santa Fe, N.M., on a movie set designed to be a church. Mr. Baldwin was practicing drawing an old-fashioned revolver that he had been told contained no live rounds when it suddenly fired, killing the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, and wounding its director, Joel Souza, 48.
Mr. Baldwin said that he was stunned by what happened and that at least 45 minutes passed after the gun went off before he realized that it could have contained a live round.
What Happened on the Set of “Rust”
“I stood over her for 60 seconds as she just laid there kind of in shock,” Mr. Baldwin said.
The actor added that he did not cock the hammer of the gun, but pulled it back as far as he could and let it go in an action that might have set it off. “I let go of the hammer — bang, the gun goes off.”
Investigators are seeking to determine how a live round got into the gun that Mr. Baldwin was practicing with, why the crew members who inspected it on set failed to notice, and why the gun fired.
Mr. Baldwin’s contention that he had not pulled the trigger was supported by a lawyer for the film’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who had been standing near Mr. Baldwin inside the church set when the gun fired.
The lawyer, Lisa Torraco, told the ABC News show “Good Morning America” on Thursday that Mr. Halls had told her that “the entire time Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard, parallel to the barrel.” She said Mr. Halls had told her that “since Day 1, he thought it was a misfire.”
In the ABC interview, Mr. Baldwin also said he recalled that shortly before the shooting, Mr. Halls had told him, “This is a cold gun,” an industry term implying that firearm does not have live rounds and is safe to use.
“When he’s saying, ‘This is a cold gun,’ what he’s saying to everybody on the set is, ‘You can relax,’” Mr. Baldwin said.