‘Rust’ assistant director once urged an actor to do an unsafe stunt that led to him getting hit in the eye with a projectile, former colleagues say

Creed bratton
Creed Bratton. Chelsea Lauren/Getty
  • ‘Rust’ assistant director Dave Halls handed Alec Baldwin the prop firearm that killed a cinematographer, according to a search warrant.
  • The incident raised questions about Halls’ oversight of safety measures on ‘Rust’ and previous projects.
  • Former colleagues of Halls’ told Insider that he once pushed actor Creed Bratton to do an unsafe stunt over objections from crew members.

The “Rust” assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the prop firearm that killed the film’s cinematographer previously pushed an actor to do a stunt on the Hulu show “Into the Dark” after his crew raised alarm over its safety, two people who worked on the show told Insider.

During a Thursday rehearsal on the New Mexico set of “Rust,” Baldwin discharged the firearm, injuring director Joel Souza and killing the movie’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchens.

Assistant director David Halls gave Baldwin the gun after it was handled by on-set armorer Hannah Gutierrez, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s office. The warrant affidavit said Halls yelled “cold gun,” meaning there were no live rounds in the weapon.

Script supervisor Mamie Mitchell also blamed an assistant director for the accidental shooting in a 911 call, saying he was “supposed to check the guns – he’s responsible for what happened.”

It wasn’t the first time Halls may have neglected safety procedures, according to former colleagues.

Melissa Low Lyon, the former on-set dresser for “Into the Dark,” told Insider that in 2019 Halls pushed actor Creed Bratton (of “The Office” fame) to perform a stunt where his character was supposed to be shot in the head.

The crew and Bratton himself both objected to the stunt as unsafe, according to Lyon and another member of the crew who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are still working on the show.

Lyon said that for an episode titled “Culture Shock,” the special effects team decided to use a blowgun, which she said has a “very inaccurate” aim. The gun was supposed to shoot a projectile onto Bratton’s head to make it appear he had been shot with a gun, but Lyon said it went in his eye instead.

Multiple people on set voiced concerns to Halls about the stunt, according to Lyon and the other crew member. Bratton himself objected to the stunt, Lyon said, but Halls insisted the scene move forward.

“Creed himself expressed concern because he said ‘it’s not going to get my eye is it,'” Lyon told Insider. “And then as soon as it happened, he said ‘I fucking knew it.'”

Lyon said most assistant directors she has worked with listen to safety concerns when they’re brought up by the crew, but she thought the on-set environment under Halls was “volatile” and “rushed.” The fast pace Halls set meant “things didn’t get done properly,” she felt.

“Dave gets very confrontational in a sense, and just doesn’t want to listen and says, ‘well we’re just going to do it’ and he’ll do things like he did on Rust and just grab it or do it himself,” Lyon said.

Halls did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment on Monday. Representatives for Blumhouse, the production company behind “Into the Dark,” and Bratton also did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Colleagues of Halls from other projects have also complained about his behavior on set. A prop maker told NBC News that “he did not maintain a safe working environment.”

Set of the movie 'Rust'
This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday, Oct. 21, killing the cinematographer, officials said. Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

Danny Hulsey, the former second assistant director on “The Pale Door,” told Insider he quit his job because of how Halls treated him and other workers.

Halls, the first assistant director on the Western movie, was constantly “rushing everyone” and was “rude about it, too,” Hulsey said.

Hulsey told Insider that he didn’t see Halls do anything unsafe. But he said that he left production for “The Pale Door” because of an altercation he with Halls where he alleges Halls grabbed him by the wrist and berated him.

After the incident, Hulsey told Insider that he fought with the movie’s producers because he refused to continue speaking with Halls unless it was about work-related issues.

“This person will not speak to me again unless it’s directly related to something he asked to speak to me for, or I’m leaving the show, period,” Hulsey said. “This is the way his attitude was.”