The family of the late actor Brandon Lee has responded to a fatal prop gun accident on the set of the movie “Rust.”
Actor Alec Baldwin expressed “shock and sadness” Friday over the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed when Baldwin fired a prop gun Thursday on the movie set in New Mexico.
Hutchins, 42, died at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. The film’s director, Joel Souza, 48, was also injured, but he was treated and released from the hospital. Local sheriff’s officials are investigating.
Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee (1940-1973), died at age 28 in March 1993 while filming the supernatural drama “The Crow” in North Carolina. Lee’s name began trending on Twitter because of similarities between his death and the latest incident.
A message on his official Twitter page, which is overseen by his sister, Shannon, read, “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
Lee, who had appeared in the films “Rapid Fire” and “Showdown in Little Tokyo,” was struck in the abdomen when co-star Michael Massee fired a prop gun in which a fragment of a .44 caliber bullet remained. Lee underwent six hours of surgery, but doctors were unable to save him.
Following an investigation, District Attorney Jerry Spivey announced that no criminal charges would be filed, saying that while negligence was a factor, there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing,
Lee’s mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, filed a civil suit against the studio for negligence, which was eventually settled out of court.
“The Crow” was both a financial and critical success. Many reviewers said that it would have been a breakthrough film for Lee. His character, Eric Draven, returns from the grave to avenge his lover’s murder.
Shannon Lee has said that her brother’s death, just before her 24th birthday, sent her into depression.
She told The Hollywood Reporter, “I have been in contact with my mom and with my brother’s fiancee. A lot of people have been reaching out. It’s stirring up a lot of emotions — and frustration.”
While acknowledging that it’s not yet clear what went wrong this week, Lee said, “There are rules that are supposed to be followed. I am certainly not pointing fingers at anyone because that would be the wrong thing to do. But, there is no reason for something like this to happen. My heart goes out to Alec Baldwin. I feel for the work he is going to have to do to process this and try to find some measure of peace around it. And even more so for the family of Halyna Hutchins. It’s having your whole world flip upside down. There should be compassion for all the pain everyone is going through.”
She added, “I think that in this day and age with all the special effects that are possible and all of the technology, there is no reason to have a prop gun or a gun on a set that can fire a projectile of any sort. It is not necessary, and I would love to see some changes made industry-wide. My brother’s fiancee and I have been talking about it. I think we wish we had thought to do more 28 years ago, and we would love to do that now.”
Lee said that the latest tragedy has led to an “outpouring of love” for her brother on social media as fans remember his untimely death.
Massee, who died in 2016, said in 2005 that he had been left traumatized by the tragedy.
Injuries involving stunts, prop guns and explosives have occurred on several film sets. In 1982, three actors, two of them children, were killed in a helicopter crash on the set of “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” The production team was found responsible for several labor violations and this incident prompted introduction of new safety standards in the film industry, but several other dangerous accidents have still occurred.
Several crew members have died, including a stuntman who died on the set of “The Expendables 2” in 2011. A special effects technician on “The Dark Knight” died in a car accident when doing a test run at a special effects facility.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland issued a statement on the latest incident, saying, “This is still an active
investigation and we do not yet have all the facts. We will continue to work with production, the other unions and the authorities to investigate this incident and to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again.”