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Resurrected ‘Rust’ Movie Has April Start Date; Alec Baldwin Criminal Case Stumbles For D.A. As Minitrial Looms

Deadline 3/16/2023 Anthony D'Alessandro
© Provided by Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: No date has been set for Alec Baldwin’s criminal trial over the October 2021 fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, but the resurrected movie is now looking at a late April production start in Montana. In fact, Rust 2.0 is currently seeking actors to play a boy who is hearing impaired, Deadline has learned.

The description of the supporting role, a character named Jacob Hollister, reads, “a smart, sweet little boy who knows nothing of the world other than what his older brother Lucas has created for him. Lucas is all Jacob has in the world.” Start of date for the “6-to-7 years old white boy” role is April 23.

That’s three days ahead of Rust‘s return to production, which we hear is April 20. The production is casting several roles, we hear. Rust producers didn’t provide return for comment.

With a previously announced spring start to Rust, Baldwin is back in his lead role as the title character in the indie Western which is set to film at the Yellowstone Film Ranch. Even with that, unanswered questions about insurance surround the revamped production as Baldwin and former Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed each face an 18-month sentence and various fines if found guilty on counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Still, if those Rust production dates hold, the $7 million-budgeted flick will be filming when the two-week preliminary hearing in Baldwin’s and Reed’s cases begins on May 3 in front of New Mexico Judge Mary Marlow Sommer. A minitrial for all practical purposes, the hearing will see Santa Fe D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies present the prosecution’s evidence and call witnesses in the matter. After responses from Reed’s attorneys and Baldwin’s NYC-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan team, Sommer will decided whether she believes there is enough there to go to a full trial later this year.  

That trial looks to see Hutchins’ family now standing with Baldwin and the Rust producers, literally and figuratively. Last October, widower Matthew Hutchins called off a wrongful-death suit against Baldwin and Rust producers to become an executive producer on the upcoming movie. Unimaginable just weeks before, that surprise settlement was the first indication Rust was really coming back

However, when charges were unveiled against Baldwin and Reed in late January, Hutchins’ lead lawyer seemed to lean away from the ethos of the settlement. “Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted,” said Hutchins’ family attorney Brian J. Panish on January 31. “It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law,” the LA-based Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP partner added. “We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.”

In another twist, in late February, Carmack-Altwies added Matthew Hutchins to the D.A. witness list.

Even with that strong swing, the D.A.’s case has stumbled repeatedly against determined defense attorneys. “Publicly, they’ve made some many amateur mistakes, you have to wonder if local Santa Fe prosecutors are in over their head with this case,” a prominent L.A.-based criminal defense lawyer said.

After taking more than a year after the October 21, 2021 killing of Hutchins on the Rust set to file charges, last month, New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney walked back a firearm enhancement, that came with a five-year prison stint, after Baldwin’s lawyers asserted it was “unconstitutional.” Add to that, the D.A.’s office earlier this week saw another set-back in their case as Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb resigned on March 14. Appointed by last summer, Reeb, the ex-district attorney for New Mexico’s Ninth Judicial District, was under attack for holding both the special prosecutor office and being an elected GOP member of the Land of Enchantment’s legislature.

Baldwin’s lawyers challenged her duel roles, and potential conflicts of interest.

Facing a March 27 disqualification hearing, Reeb fell on the sword before further damage was done. “It has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins,” she said in a statement announcing her sudden exit, despite continued solid backing from Carmack-Altwies.

The D.A.’s office had no further comment today on when or if a new special prosecutor would be named.

Right now, it looks more certain that Rust is coming back than the Rust criminal case could actually go to trial.

Seeing Frances Fisher and other main actors back for the rejuvenated Rust, the most recent storyline of the Western written and directed by Joel Souza reads: “A 13-year-old boy, left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, is taken on a violent, harrowing journey to old Mexico by his long estranged grandfather after he’s sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.”

Grant Hill, who is known for his talent of overseeing challenging productions including James Cameron’s Oscar-winning Titanic, the Waschowskis’ Jupiter Ascending and Terrence Malick movies like the Cannes Palme d’Or-winning The Tree of Life, was previously announced as boarding Rust as producer. He is producing the revised movie with star Baldwin, Matt DelPiano, Ryan Smith, Anjul Nigam, Ryan Winterstern and Nathan Klingher.

As a documentary on his wife’s life is also planned, Matthew Hutchins is still listed as the executive producer of the resurrected Rust.

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