Alec Baldwin said the only issue that matters in the shooting that killed a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set is how the bullet ended up in the gun.
“There’s only one question to be resolved, and that’s where did the live round come from?” Baldwin said in an ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos that aired on Thursday night, the first time the actor has spoken in depth on screen about the October 21 shooting on the set of the Western “Rust.”
Baldwin said he did not pull the trigger of the gun he was holding that went off and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Instead, he said, he cocked the hammer on the revolver while being directed by Hutchins and the gun went off as he released the mechanism.
“I didn’t pull the trigger,” Baldwin told Stephanopoulos. “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never.”
He said he didn't feel guilt over the shooting, as he does not believe he was responsible, but said the accident was the worst thing ever to have happened to him and noted the toll it had taken on him physically and emotionally, saying he was unable to sleep and that his career might be over.
Baldwin said he and Hutchins “had something profound in common. We both assumed the gun was empty. ”
He later broke down in tears when describing the cinematographer, saying she was “somebody who was loved by everybody and admired by everybody who worked with her.”
Baldwin said he was doing the interview because the criminal investigation and civil lawsuits surrounding the case were going to take months, and there were many public misconceptions to counter.
“I really feel like I can’t wait for that process to to end,” Baldwin said.
He added he wanted to make it clear that “I would go to any lengths to undo what happened.”
But Baldwin said “I want to make sure that I don’t come across like I’m the victim because we have two victims here.”
The assistant director who handed Baldwin the gun backs up the actor’s assertion that he did not pull the trigger.
Lisa Torraco, a lawyer for assistant director David Halls, told ABC News earlier on Thursday that her client has always said Baldwin never pulled the trigger. “He told me since day one he thought it was a misfire,” Ms Torraco said.
“Until Alec said that, it was just really hard to believe, but Dave has told me since the very first day I met him, that Alec did not pull that trigger.”
Authorities have said Baldwin was told the gun was safe to handle but continue to investigate how a live round ended up in the weapon.
A lawsuit filed by film’s script supervisor, one of at least two that name the actor and others as defendants, alleges that the script and director did not call for Baldwin to pull the trigger, but he did anyway.
Investigators have described “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the “Rust” set. They have said it is too soon to determine whether charges will be filed, amid independent civil lawsuits concerning liability in the fatal shooting.
Baldwin said he met with the film’s armorer Hanna Gutierrez Reed for a gun training session before the shoot, and she appeared capable and responsible.
“I assumed because she was there and she was hired that she was up to the job,” he said.
Ms Gutierrez Reed has been the subject of much of the scrutiny in the case. Her attorney has said she did not put the round in the gun, and believes she was the victim of sabotage.
Lawyers for Ms Gutierrez Reed have said she has "no idea" how live rounds were present on the set.
ABC said a two-hour special “20/20” next week will examine the shooting investigation in more depth.
Agencies contributed to this report.