Dwayne Johnson, one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, will only use rubber pistols on his sets following the accidental death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rest” last month.
“I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you, without ambiguity here, that every movie that we have with Seven Bucks Productions – every movie, every television show or whatever we do or produce – we won’t be using any real weapons at all. Johnson told Variety in a red carpet interview during the Los Angeles premiere of “Red Notice” on Wednesday.
Johnson said he was “heartbroken” to learn that a prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin resulted in the death of Hutchins and also the injury of “Rust” director Joel Souza. The incident prompted the actor to change the protocol on set for his future films. Johnson said he will enforce this new rule at every studio he and his production company work with.
“We’re going to switch to rubber guns, and we’re going to get it in the mail,” he said. “We’re not going to worry about the dollars; we’re not going to worry about what it costs.”
The term prop pistol encompasses a wide variety of firearms, including non-functioning pistols, cap pistols, fake weapons made of wood, plastic, or rubber, and antique weapons modified to fire blanks or hold dummy rounds.
Live ammunition is rarely used in TV shows or scripted movies and is usually only used on reality shows such as “Mythbusters,” where they are used to test scientific theories, or “Top Shot,” where they are used for a target shooting.
In most cases, productions use blank cartridges in prop guns to imitate the sound and physical appearance of a real gun. These cases are loaded with gunpowder but do not have a projectile like a bullet. Instead, they are usually replaced with cotton or paper wadding. Blanks can still be dangerous if discharged too close to another person.
It appears Johnson plans to ban all prop weapons that release material, and use non-firing props that have special effects such as sound and muzzle flash that will be added in post-production. Johnson’s representatives did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for clarification.
Hollywood productions typically adhere to strict safety precautions for stunt work, especially when it comes to the safety of weapons and props. The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee has written and distributed safety bulletins on best practices for television and film productions.
The last high-profile gun-related incident on a movie set was the death of Brandon Lee on the set of “The Crow” in 1993.
According to data from the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, the film industry has seen 47 fatalities in 250 film production accidents since 1990. These incidents include car accidents, injuries sustained by heavy equipment and falls from scaffolding.
“I love the movie industry,” Johnson said. “There are safety protocols and measures that we’ve always had in the film industry that we take very seriously, and these sets are safe sets, and we’re proud of that.”
“But accidents do happen,” he continued. “And when something like this happens of this magnitude, [that is] This heartbreaking one, I think the wisest and the smartest thing to do is take a break and really re-examine how you’re going to move forward and how we’re going to work together.”
Founded by Johnson and his business partner Dany Garcia, Seven Bucks Productions has partnered with major studios such as Sony, Disney and Universal to bring major blockbusters such as “Jumanji”, “Jungle Cruise” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw” to the big screen.
“Every movie we make that Seven Bucks does with every studio, the rule is we’re not going to use any real guns. That’s all,” he said.
“The Rookie”, an ABC show produced by Hasbro’s eOne, also banned all gunfire on set in the wake of the “Rust” set shooting. The production uses Air Soft pistols and adds computer-generated muzzle flashes during post-production.
In addition, dozens of cinematographers have signed a petition asking the entertainment industry to ban “functional firearms” from productions.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal produces and distributes the Fast & Furious franchise.