Alec Baldwin said he cocked the gun but "didn't pull the trigger" in his first sit-down interview since the fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust" that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.
“I’m holding the gun where she (Hutchins) told me to hold it," Baldwin, 63, told George Stephanopoulos in an ABC special that aired Thursday night and will stream afterward on Hulu. "In the scene (being rehearsed) I would have cocked the gun, and I said, ‘Do you want to see that? And she said yes. So I take the gun and I sort of cock the gun, I’m not going to pull the trigger."
Hutchins told him to "tilt it down a little bit," he said. "I cock the gun and I go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?’ And I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off."
The trigger and where the live ammunition came from were among the major topics in the emotional hour-long discussion.
"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never," Baldwin said after Stephanopoulos noted the "gun was in your hand."
"Someone put a live bullet in a gun – a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property," the actor said.
Baldwin made an emotional Instagram post the night the interview aired featuring a photo of him hugging one of his children on the beach and thanked his wife Hilaria Baldwin for giving him joy and love.
"These are tough times. The world is choked with fumes of hate. But you have given me a reason to live. Our life with our family is all I care about," he wrote.
'Rust' investigation: Affidavit reveals new details about source of live ammunition in Alec Baldwin's gun
Alec Baldwin gives his account of shooting
Baldwin walked Stephanopoulos through the marking rehearsal that ended in Hutchins and Souza getting shot.
“The scene is two guys are there who have got me cornered, and they think I’ve been shot pretty bad … and I draw the gun out," Baldwin explained.
According to Baldwin, assistant director Dave Halls handed him the gun and said it was a "cold gun," meaning it did not contain live rounds.
"When he’s saying that ... he says everybody can relax," Baldwin added.
During the rehearsal, Hutchins instructed Baldwin where to point the gun, the actor said, and guided him to aim it "right below her armpit." Then "the gun goes off."
"Everyone is horrified," he said. "They're shocked. It's loud. The gun was supposed to be empty. I was told I was handed an empty gun."
When Hutchins hit the floor, Baldwin initially thought she had fainted or had a heart attack. "The notion that there was a live round in that gun didn't dawn on me until 45 minutes to an hour later," he said.
Baldwin recalled standing over Hutchins for a minute as she laid on the floor.
“Was she conscious?” Stephanopoulos asked. “My recollection is yes," Baldwin replied.
After the shooting, a helicopter transported Hutchins, 42, to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. Souza was transported via ambulance to Christus St. Vincent’s hospital and was later released.
Pressed by @GStephanopoulos on the fact that some people say you're never supposed to point a gun at anyone on set, Alec Baldwin says: "Unless the person is the cinematographer who's directing me at where to point the gun for her camera angle."
Read more: https://t.co/zYugqKhIVW pic.twitter.com/Nkr4UBYjip
— ABC News (@ABC) December 3, 2021
Baldwin said he found out Hutchins died at the end of his interview with the sheriff's department.
“They said to me, ‘We regret to tell you that (Hutchins) didn't make it,’ ” Baldwin said. “They told me right then and there.”
Baldwin mourns Halyna Hutchins, weighs in on Hannah Gutierrez-Reed as armorer
Breaking down in tears, Baldwin said Hutchins was "loved and admired by everybody who worked with her."
“She had that intensity every day you went to work," he said. "She (always said,) ‘Good morning. How are you?’ "
Baldwin, also a producer on the film, was asked by Stephanopoulos if he thought Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was fit for the job of set armorer. Because "she was there, because she was hired," Baldwin said he assumed she "was up for the job."
Baldwin also said he served as a "purely creative producer" and didn't "hire anybody in the crew" – not even the cinematographer.
“There’s two types of producers who are really in charge of production: people who raise the money and people who spend the money,” he said.
Baldwin also weighed in on reports of crew members walking off the set of "Rust" hours prior to the shooting in protest of working conditions: "No, I never heard one word about that," he said, noting that he was asked about getting a better hotel for crew members.
Baldwin describes emotional toll of shooting: 'Someone is responsible'
The tragedy has come with an immense personal toll, said Baldwin, who agreed with Stephanopoulos' characterization of the incident as the worst thing that's ever happened to him.
“I have dreams about this constantly now,” Baldwin said. “I go through my day, and I make it through the day. Then I collapse at the end of the day. Emotionally, I collapse.”
Alec Baldwin: And the neglected trauma of unintentional killing
Baldwin also said he "can't imagine" ever making a movie with guns in it again and that he's not sure if he wants to continue making films at all.
“Is (your career) over?” Stephanopoulos asked. "Well, it could be,” Baldwin said.
But despite the trauma, one thing Baldwin said he doesn't feel is guilt.
"Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me," he said. "Honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible. And I don’t say that lightly.”
.@GStephanopoulos: "Do you feel guilt?"
Alec Baldwin: “No. Someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”
READ MORE: https://t.co/zYugqKhIVW #BaldwinABC pic.twitter.com/97F9wOYYTT
— ABC News (@ABC) December 3, 2021
Baldwin dismisses reactions from George Clooney, other stars
Baldwin also reacted to comments made by celebrities in the wake of the shooting, including George Clooney, who said he always checks prop guns himself on set.
.@GStephanopoulos presses Alec Baldwin on fatal 'Rust' accident: "Why did you choose, in your 40 years [in the industry], not to check the gun yourself?" https://t.co/zYugqKhIVW #BaldwinABC pic.twitter.com/Y9eTITwliE
— ABC News (@ABC) December 3, 2021
“There were a lot of people who felt it necessary to contribute some comment to the situation which didn’t really help the situation at all," Baldwin said, adding that if those are other stars' protocols, then “good for you," but ultimately it's not an actor's responsibility to check prop guns.
Hilaria Baldwin supports husband Alec through 'unthinkable nightmare'
In a lengthy caption, Hilaria described how she reacted to the tragic news of the shooting.
" 'I am here, I love you, and I will take care of you.' These were the only words that came to me when we learned Halyna had died," she wrote, along with a photo of her and Baldwin sharing a passionate kiss. "The horrific loss, the torture to her family, and you, my husband, somehow put in this unthinkable nightmare."
Hilaria wrote that while being in the public eye has brought the couple "great joy in connecting with amazing people," it's also come with "tremendous trauma when it gets dark."
"I was afraid for you to open up (about the shooting) because I’ve seen your spirit crushed, your mental health shattered, your soul in unimaginable pain," she continued. "Sometimes I wonder how much one body, one mind can take. I don’t want to lose you."
But Hilaria added she's "proud" of her husband for giving the interview, even though she's "stopped speaking (about the shooting) because of fear."
"You always encourage me to speak, use my voice, stay true," she wrote. "You were right and continue to inspire me."
Hilaria capped off her post by noting that she and Baldwin "honor Halyna and her family."
"My Alec, I am here to heal any of your pain that I can," she wrote. "I am not going anywhere. Onward to being Alec and Hilaria, messy, emotions strong, but lots and lots of love—until the very end"
'Rust' legal fallout continues
It is unclear when the ABC interview was conducted, as new information continues to surface related to the deadly incident. On Tuesday, an affidavit released by authorities with a search warrant revealed new details about how live ammunition may have ended up alongside dummy rounds.
A previous affidavit released by investigators dated Oct. 27 contradicted Baldwin's statement that he did not pull the trigger, stating that that “the prop-gun was fired by the Actor Alec Baldwin" during rehearsal, striking Hutchins and Souza.
“There was nothing in the script about the gun being discharged by DEFENDANT BALDWIN or by any other person,” a lawsuit filed by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell says.
Another lawsuit filed Nov. 10 in Los Angeles on behalf of Serge Svetnoy alleges general negligence against Baldwin, Halls, Gutierrez-Reed, Rust Movie Productions and other companies and individuals involved with the film. Svetnoy is described as a chief lighting technician on the film and a close friend of Hutchins.
According to the complaint, Svetnoy was present during the incident, which the complaint says "will haunt (Svetnoy) forever."
Hutchins' husband Matthew Hutchins has retained legal counsel from Los Angeles-based Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP, the law firm's representative Jaclyn Vazquez confirmed to USA TODAY.
Hutchins was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019. Born in Ukraine, she previously served as director of cinematography for the 2020 action film "Archenemy," starring Joe Manganiello, who paid tribute to the "absolutely incredible talent." She and Matthew Hutchins shared a son.
ABC will also air a two-hour special of "20/20" next week examining the investigation into the shooting.
Contributing: Amy Haneline, Hannah Yasharoff, Jenna Ryu and Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alec Baldwin describes how 'Rust' gun fired without pulling trigger