‘Rust’ explained: What we know about the film production that resulted in tragedy and death

"Rust" was in production at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, N.M.
(Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

“Rust,” the western at the center of tragic events that claimed the life of its cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, is directed by Joel Souza and stars Alec Baldwin as an outlaw named Harland Rust. In the film, the title character goes on the run with his estranged 13-year-old grandson after the child is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

Baldwin has compared the revenge drama to the 1992 Clint Eastwood western “Unforgiven,” and said “Rust” is of a similar revisionist history vein. The actor also serves as producer and co-wrote the story with Souza based on a story the director read about the youngest person ever to hang in the American West.

Jensen Ackles, Travis Fimmel, Brady Noon and Frances Fisher round out the principal cast.

The low-budget production was not a major studio project but an independent film financed by BondIt Media Capital, with CAA Media Finance on board for domestic sales rights and Highland Film Group handling international sales.


Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars, was killed on the set of ‘Rust.’ Here’s everything we know so far.

Aug. 15, 2023

“It wasn’t obviously something I was setting out to do, I just loved the story,” Baldwin told the Hollywood Reporter in 2020. “I love Joel’s writing. ‘Love’ is a word that is so overused, but I really do love his writing.”

Baldwin had planned to star in Souza’s 2019 thriller “Crown Vic” but couldn’t due to scheduling conflicts. Instead he produced it and “then when this opportunity came up ... I was elated,” he told THR. “It wasn’t even that I was looking to do a western, I was just looking for something a little more cinematic with a little less talking.”

Filming began in Santa Fe this month after being delayed from its originally planned May 2020 start date by the pandemic. It was expected to continue into early November.