Brandon Lee’s fiancée Eliza Hutton: ‘there’s no such thing as a prop gun’


Like many of you, I’ve read the reports of the tragic events on the set of the Rust that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins. The story keeps reaching new levels of heartbreak. The greatest tragedy is, and will always be, the loss of Halyna’s life, no matter where the blame is ultimately laid or what new report comes out. A woman died in an accident that never should have happened. Eliza Hutton, Brandon Lee’s fiancée, agrees. Eliza was just 29 when Brandon was killed by a prop gun on the set of The Crow in 1993. He was hit by the tip of a live bullet that was lodged in the gun. When Eliza heard about Halyna’s death, she issued public condolences to Halyna’s family. Then she posted a photo of herself and Brandon to Instagram with a caption that read “there’s no such thing as a prop gun.”

The fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s film Rust has motivated Eliza Hutton, fiancée of the late Brandon Lee, to speak out for the first time about his on-set death and this “avoidable tragedy.”

In 1993, Brandon — the 28-year-old son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee — died after being shot with a prop gun that was supposed to fire blank cartridges on the set of The Crow. The tip of a .44-caliber bullet was lodged in the gun’s barrel and when the blank was fired, it was expelled. The bullet hit Brandon’s abdomen, damaged several organs and lodged near his spine. He died on March 31, 1993.

“Twenty-eight years ago, I was shattered by the shock and grief of losing the love of my life, Brandon Lee, so senselessly,” Hutton said in a statement to People. “My heart aches again now for Halyna Hutchins’s husband and son, and for all those left in the wake of this avoidable tragedy.”

Hutton went on to “urge those in positions to make change to consider alternatives to real guns on sets.”

On her private Instagram account, Hutton also shared a photo of herself with Brandon celebrating their engagement in October 1992.

“There’s no such thing as a prop gun,” she captioned it.

[From Yahoo]

I know nothing about props or how they work, especially the weapons used in filming. I took for granted that the guns used on sets were markedly different than ‘real’ guns, but I’m finding out how wrong that assumption was. I knew from Jon-Erik Hexum’s death that they had a lot of force to them, but I honestly did not know you could load a real bullet in them. Unfortunately, I’m learning a lot more than I ever wanted to from the current discussion and Eliza’s caption is appropriate. This must be awful for her to relive. The article said she and Brandon were set to be married one week after The Crow wrapped. Her happily Ever After became her worst nightmare because a safety protocol wasn’t followed. And now the Hutchins are living their nightmare for allegedly the same reason.

Brandon’s sister, Shannon Lee, also spoke out about Haylna’s death. She said that although Hollywood and fans came together in the aftermath of Brandon’s shooting, she isn’t aware that any rules or regulations had actually changed, which is nuts. There’s a petition circulating now to ban real firearms from sets. I learned that the majority of John Wick’s gun blasts are done in post production. If John Wick can add all – and I mean all – those blasts in post, then it should be industry standard. Oh, and the director of John Wick? Chad Stahelski, who was brought in as Brandon Lee’s body double on The Crow after his death.

Eliza’s IG is private, but People has a screenshot of her post if you want to see it here.



Photo credit: Avalon Red and Twitter

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14 Responses to “Brandon Lee’s fiancée Eliza Hutton: ‘there’s no such thing as a prop gun’”

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  1. Sam the Pink says:

    The Lee family and Eliza has always been strong, eloquent voices for film safety. It must be painful for them to have to live with the understanding that very little changed since Brandon, because these things keep happening. I know after Brandon, there were alleged changes made, including creating a special “armorer” position that solely handles the weapons on set. But as James Gunn noted, rules only work when they are followed. The issue is not that rules don’t exist, but that people continue to cut corners and not live up to the standards.

    Lane Storm wrote a very interesting piece on Twitter about his experience handling the gun on a TV set. He was not even in a scene that required firing the gun – he only pointed it at another actor and then the two had to fight over it. He said each time the gun was on set, before it was handed to him, the armorer opened the barrel, confirmed it was empty and had him look inside as well and verbally confirm he could see it was empty as well. And they did this before every single take or any time the gun had to removed from set. He said at the time he found it excessive, but now gets why they did that.

    Given human error, I don’t see how weapons can be on set and be safe. Humans are just making too many errors.

  2. Becks1 says:

    I guess I thought that the guns used on sets WERE prop guns, especially after Lee’s death etc. Like there was no way they could fire a real bullet because they were just fake guns. I don’t know. It seems crazy that with as many movies are made with guns, they don’t have something better than just “lets hope everyone did their job.”

    • windyriver says:

      I read in one of the articles, think it might have been on Daily Beast, that two LA companies provide all of the prop guns used on US sets, and they’re altered so not capable of firing a live round. It’s possible that’s not accurate, but the question has also been raised by prop masters/armorers in various articles about where the guns came from on the Rust set, whether they were obtained outside the usual system. Given all the other security failures and corner cutting on that set, that wouldn’t be a surprise.

    • HeyJude says:

      Real guns are definitely used on sets, they’re just usually modified to only have a blank cartridge in them.

      BUT Apparently the cast in New Mexico were- 1. Using a local gun provider that wasn’t a part of the Hollywood armorers association, 2. only on her 2nd movie ever (basically would have been an apprentice level if this was shot in LA) and got the job because her dad the real expert gun wrangler couldn’t/didn’t want to do it, 3. at some point was rumored to be allowing the people on set to be taking target practice with live rounds for fun with the production guns to pass the time because the set was remote and there was nothing to do, and 4. was leaving the last gun check to the AD, who is apparently a notorious unprofessional, arrogant a-hole. This was a-typical and potentially because of his ego issues. The gun wrangler usually makes the last check and hands the guns off for the scenes.

      Also the guns most of Hollywood use that can fire blank charges still aren’t 100% safe because they still use gunpowder to simulate a real round. There’s been cases where people have been seriously injured by them anyways because if something in the gun malfunctions and comes loose, in particular any of the metal mechanisms inside the chamber and the firing pins, they then have gunpowder projecting them and are essentially crude bullets/shrapnel. This is a high risk especially if the guns in use are older historical models.

      This is why live firing guns have no place in Hollywood or any other kinds of performative simulations in 2021. They are archaic and we have alternatives.

  3. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    That photo of Eliza and Brandon with the caption, “There’s no such thing as a prop gun” broke my heart.

  4. Mina_Esq says:

    Learning that all those blasts in John Wick were post-production…blew (sorry lol) my mind because there are SO many blasts in John Wick! I don’t think there is a continuous period of more than 5 minutes when there isn’t a blast.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      there’s some stupid tik tok thing where people say “I’m pissed off” and then appear to be firing off several rounds of a gun into the dark night…but then they show what they’re “firing” and it’s a lighter that they were cranking (to get the “muzzle flash”) with the sound of gunfire added. the first time I saw it I truly thought that the person was firing a gun.

      if a freakin’ amateur video on TIK TOK can fool people, then a GD hollywood production SURELY could. which, as noted, has been done with John Wick.

  5. Dandun says:

    i didnt know that about John Wicks either and i think its very interesting. The director obviously made that choice because of his personal circumstances but its 100% the only way to go now. I have watched two of those films and would never have noticed anything different about the gun shots in them. crazy that this isnt already industry standard and just so sad

  6. canichangemyname says:

    This story is just so tragic – to me, there are no ‘sides’ to take. I’m sure it was a series of mistakes and bad decisions that led to this terrible outcome. Certainly, I imagine there’s quite a bit of civil liability, possibly some criminal liability, and I imagine a lot of pain because I doubt anyone wanted to see this young woman dead. But a bigger conversation is here – how in the absolute f**k are prop guns not just … props? I also just assumed that they were. We can put a man on the moon but nobody’s been able to, idk, develop a prop gun that *doesn’t take live bullets?* That’s my question from all of this. I was a teenager when Lee died and I wondered that then – I guess I just assumed safety measures had been implemented since then. I hope these two human beings will finally not have died in vain. Alec Baldwin has money and status – I hope he will take this moment to throw that weight behind some serious changes.

  7. Velvet Elvis says:

    In this day and age, with all the cgi and special effects available, why in the hell aren’t they all just using replica guns??

  8. tealily says:

    I still think about all the movies we never got from Brandon. What a loss to the film world. What a loss to his family.

  9. Case says:

    After Brandon’s tragic death there was absolutely no reason for this to happen yet again nearly 30 years later. Eliza is very eloquent and her words are quite powerful.

  10. mgmoviegirl says:

    While what happened in New Mexico was sad same with Lee’s death. Especially with the latest evidence of finding additional live rounds on set is painting this tragedy as something worse. It’s great that we are likely to see a change from the entertainment industry over this.

    What bothers me about this case is we are going to see and hear more demands on the entertainment industry to make the necessary changes needed but what about school shootings? We likely have loss 1,000s of lives more to school shooting than the lives on set over “prop guns”. What is it going to take for us make those changes?

  11. goofpuff says:

    There is more energy about prop guns than there are about real guns here in the US. It’s kind of crazy. I always wonder if the same people screaming about gun rights are now criticizing prop guns. Prop guns aren’t political but real guns are. and she is right. there are no “prop guns”. Most directors want the “realism” more than safety.