Alec Baldwin Charges Complicate Efforts to Finish Troubled ‘Rust’ Movie

After Alec Baldwin fatally shot the cinematographer on the “Rust” movie set in 2021, the film’s producers were hit with a spate of lawsuits claiming that the production had failed to follow proper safety protocols, increasing the likelihood of a tragedy.

The most prominent legal claim came from the family of the slain cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42. But in October, the production company behind “Rust” announced that it had reached a settlement with the family that called for resuming production on the film and making Ms. Hutchins’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, an executive producer.

At one point there were plans to begin filming again this month.

But on Thursday prosecutors in New Mexico announced that they intended to file involuntary manslaughter charges against the film’s star, Mr. Baldwin, who is also one of its producers, complicating plans for the project. Could a western about a grizzled outlaw on the run from law enforcement continue to feature an actor who is fighting his own criminal charges?

A person with knowledge of the project who was granted anonymity to describe production plans said that as of Thursday, the movie was still on track to be completed with Mr. Baldwin in the lead role and Joel Souza, who was wounded in the shooting, returning as director. The project will include on-set safety supervisors and union crew members and will bar any use of working weapons or any form of live ammunition, including blanks, the person said.

Several crew members on the original set told investigators about two accidental discharges of blanks that occurred before the deadly shooting, underlining safety concerns. A couple dozen cast and crew members signed a letter seeking to counter suggestions that the set was dangerous.

The Santa Fe County district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, said that the movie’s original armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, would also be charged with involuntary manslaughter and that Dave Halls, the original first assistant director, had agreed to a plea deal on a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

A lawyer for Mr. Baldwin, Luke Nikas, said on Thursday that the planned prosecution of Mr. Baldwin “represents a terrible miscarriage of justice” and that the actor would be exonerated. Asked later whether Mr. Baldwin intended to continue in the production of the film, Mr. Nikas did not immediately reply.

It is not yet clear where the production plans to restart filming, if it moves ahead. The fatal shooting occurred on the outskirts of Santa Fe at Bonanza Creek Ranch, a picturesque location for movie westerns since the 1950s. Last year, the production said that returning to New Mexico was not an option but that locations in California were under consideration.

“Rust,” set in late 19th-century Kansas, centers on Mr. Baldwin’s character, Harland Rust, who is trying to help his teenage grandson escape from a sentence to be hanged after the accidental killing of a local rancher.

The fatal shooting of Ms. Hutchins came on the 12th day of a 21-day film shoot that involved horses, snakes and more than two dozen guns. In the scene Mr. Baldwin was practicing when the revolver discharged, his character decides to shoot his way out of a small wooden church after being cornered by the authorities.

The Hutchinses have a son, who is now 10. In the months after the boy’s mother was killed, the tensions between Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Hutchins have occasionally spilled into the public. After Mr. Baldwin gave an interview with ABC News in which he fiercely denied responsibility for the tragedy, Mr. Hutchins responded with his own television interview. He told NBC’s “Today” show, “The idea that the person holding the gun and causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me.”

When the settlement was reached, Mr. Hutchins said in a statement that he had “no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame” and that “all of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident.”

Responding to the decision to charge Mr. Baldwin on Thursday, a lawyer for Mr. Hutchins said his client was supportive of the direction the prosecutors had taken.

“It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law,” the lawyer, Brian J. Panish, said in a statement. “We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.”

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