Days after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins lost her life due to a firearm accident on the set of Rust, actor Jensen Ackles has broken his silence on the tragedy. Shortly before the incident, it was announced that Ackles had joined the cast of the upcoming Western movie alongside producer and lead star Alec Baldwin. The project was postponed indefinitely after the prop gun Baldwin was holding apparently misfired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
In the aftermath, a distraught Alec Baldwin posted a brief statement online, noting his “shock and sadness” over the accident. Jensen Ackles, who had been on set to play a U.S. Marshal in the movie, has now addressed the tragedy with a statement of his own. Taking to Instagram, Ackles posts some images of Hutchins from the set while posting a heartfelt message describing his experience working with her.
“I’m not even sure where to start. This has been a tragedy of epic proportions that we are all still processing,” Jensen Ackles says about Rust in the caption. “Earlier last week I felt compelled to tell Halyna just how awesome I thought she was. I told her how incredible I thought her camera shots were and just how exciting it was to watch her and her team work. Truly. She laughed and said thank you and gave me a hug. I’ll forever be thankful we had that moment.”
Ackles added, “She had a spunk and passion that infected the entire crew from the top down. She was an inspiration. My heart and prayers go out to Halyna’s husband, son and the rest of her family. There just aren’t enough words to express what an immense loss this is. She will be incredibly missed by all of us who knew and admired her.”
The actor goes on to announce that he’s donated to the American Film Institute scholarship fund in Hutchins’ name along with his wife, Danneel Ackles, in honor of the late filmmaker’s memory. Ackles also donated to the GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Hutchins’ family, encouraging others to do the same if they have the means to do so.
Per the AFI, the Halyna Hutchins Memorial Scholarship Fund was launched to benefit aspiring filmmakers in Hutchins’ honor. The scholarship was established in her name at the AFI Conservatory, and on the official website, the institute notes, “As is profoundly true in the art of cinematography, words alone cannot capture the loss of one so dear to the AFI community. At AFI, we pledge to see that Halyna Hutchins will live on in the spirit of all who strive to see their dreams realized in stories well told.”
Meanwhile, the GoFundMe page set up for the Hutchins family has already far exceeded its initial goal of $10,000. It’s now collected over $200,000 and counting with more and more high-dollar donations continuing to roll in. No amount of money could ever ease the pain the family must be feeling at this time, but removing any financial burdens will at least help them with their grieving. You can donate to that cause by visiting GoFundMe, and you can also donate to the scholarship fund at the website for the American Film Institute.