Alec Baldwin gun tragedy would NEVER happen here: Matthew Vaughn blames ‘mad, obsessive gun culture’ of the US for on-set shooting that left cinematographer dead, writes BAZ BAMIGBOYE
Film maker Matthew Vaughn, director and producer behind some of our best known action movies, said America’s ‘mad, obsessive gun culture’ was to blame for the tragic shooting involving Hollywood star Alec Baldwin.
The incident resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the western Rust.
‘It’s the state of the culture in America,’ said Vaughn. ‘And in America, the mad, obsessive gun culture is extreme. What happened is beyond any comprehension. Over there, they can just take a gun on set — because they believe it’s their right to do so.
‘But, sad to say, it will have zero effect on U.S. gun laws. Guns are ingrained.’
Film maker Matthew Vaughn (pictured) said America’s ‘mad, obsessive gun culture’ was to blame for the tragic shooting involving Hollywood star Alec Baldwin
Vaughn, the man behind Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Kick-Ass and the Kingsman titles, was speaking on the backlot of a studio in deepest North-West London, where he is filming his latest picture, Argylle: a big-budget spy thriller starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara and Samuel L. Jackson.
The film also features the pop singer Dua Lipa in her first big-screen role. It’s a meaty one, too — and she’ll get to sing on the soundtrack. Ariana DeBose, said to be amazing in Steven Spielberg’s new film of West Side Story, has also been cast.
Vaughn was standing by a table laid out with weapons — a Remington rifle, several handguns, and knives of various shapes and sizes. He could talk about them, but he was forbidden to touch them.
There are strictly enforced protocols on British film sets. ‘I’m not allowed to touch them. The assistant directors don’t go near them, either,’ Vaughn told me, in reference to statements made in New Mexico alleging that the assistant director on Rust did not check the gun that fired the fatal shot.
The incident resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the western Rust. Pictured: Alec Baldwin with Halyna Hutchins (centre) on the set of Rust. The production started shooting on October 6. Hutchins died on October 21
On Argylle, as with other movies filmed here, only licensed armourers are allowed to carry guns on to the set.
‘There’s a strict protocol. They will check that the gun’s empty — and show you it’s empty — before they hand it over,’ Vaughn explained, as Damien Walters, a stunt co-ordinator and second unit director, and stuntman Greg Townley (who stands in for Tom Holland on the Spiderman films) listened in and nodded in agreement.
Walters chipped in: ‘After you’ve shot it, they come in and take it off you and say “Gun clear!”. Nobody else can handle it, except the armourer who hands it to the actor.’
And Vaughn pointed out that ‘you have to have an armourer for rubber guns, too’.
There are strictly enforced protocols on British film sets. ‘I’m not allowed to touch them. The assistant directors don’t go near them, either,’ Vaughn said. Pictured: Daniel Bruhl, Tom Hollander and director Matthew Vaughn (right) on set of King’s Man
Vaughn (pictured, left, with Rhys Ifans and Tom Hollander on the set of the King’s Man) is filming his latest picture, Argylle: a big-budget spy thriller starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara and Samuel L. Jackson
We were joined by Zygi Kamasa, Marv Films group chief executive officer, and together, they talked me through how a gun is safely handled on a set in this country, noting that live ammunition is never used. ‘If someone brought a live round on to the set, they’d be arrested immediately,’ Vaughn insisted.
‘Nowadays, you don’t even need to use real guns’, because the camera doesn’t always catch the flashes that emerge when a weapon has been fired.
Walters said that you just end up putting special effects coverage over it. And, in any case, most guns are deactivated, so they can’t actually be fired at all.
Good actors here know how to act as if they’re doing it for real, they pointed out. ‘Did Anthony Hopkins have to kill a few people to get into character to play Lecter?’ Vaughn asked. ‘You don’t need to eat someone. It’s called acting.’
The film Argylle also features the pop singer Dua Lipa (pictured) in her first big-screen role. It’s a meaty one, too — and she’ll get to sing on the soundtrack
He said part of the problem was that ‘they’re gun nuts in America’. He recalled being dragged to a shooting range in the States, where he spotted a sign that read: ‘You can’t karate chop a bullet.’
‘That’s the mentality. That’s the culture in America. A gun — and showbusiness — killed Halyna Hutchins,’ he said, with sadness in his voice.
Argylle, based on a novel by Ellie Conway, is a whopping $200 million thriller backed by Apple Original Films. It has several more weeks of filming left, plus 12 months of post-production work.