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Rust’s Armorer Previously Scuffled With Nicolas Cage Over Weapon Handling Prior To Alec Baldwin Movie

Nicholas Cage in Prisoners of the Ghostland
(Image credit: RLJE Films)

Weapons are no joke, even if they’re only meant to be props. After cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was tragically killed on the set of Rust, people all over America were wondering how such an incident could have occurred. After all, most union films are required to hire professional armorers who are specifically trained to handle any prop weapons. Now, nearly a week after Hutchin’s death, new information has come to light: this isn’t the first time the on-set armorer of Rust has run into trouble. 

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, a 24-year-old videographer, had been working on the western film The Old Way as an armorer just two months before arriving on the set of Rust. According to The Wrap, a crew member of The Old Way has claimed that Gutierrez-Reed’s on-set behavior drew the ire of star Nicholas Cage. 

Key grip Stu Brumbaugh recounted that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed repeatedly failed to follow proper weapons handling procedures and fired prop guns multiple times without informing the cast and crew. After the second time she fired a gun with no prior announcement, Nicholas Cage seemingly lost his temper. He demanded that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed adhere to basic protocols before storming off of the set. 

Stu Brumbragh supposedly asked the assistant director to fire Gutierrez-Reed, but nothing came of his request. The Old Way producers denied hearing that anyone had asked for a replacement armorer. While The Old Way was Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s first professional film job, producers held that she had been supervised by experienced weapons handler Jeffrey W. Crow. Despite this claim, The Wrap reported that other crew members of The Old Way corroborated Stu Brumbragh’s story. 

While it’s still unclear exactly how the Rust incident went down, Stu Brumbragh is partially attributing the tragedy to tight budgets. He believes that the production company wanted to save money by hiring a less experienced (and therefore less expensive) armorer who would complete the work in a shorter period of time. However, he doesn’t necessarily blame Hannah Gutierrez-Reed: 

The problem is she didn’t have help. I would have had minimum two more people. She was doing everything by herself in that movie and on the other movie. If there was one more person in the other movie the tragedy wouldn’t have happened. A second person would have inspected to make sure the barrels were clear.

Halnya Hutchins’ was killed on the set of Rust when star Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun. Unbeknownst to Baldwin, the gun had contained a live round of ammo. The bullet struck Hutchins in her stomach and director Joel Souza in his shoulder. After her death, Hollywood is taking steps to prevent a similar accident from happening again. 

Production on Rust has been indefinitely suspended. For future updates on this story, be sure to check back on CinemaBlend. 

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.