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Bruce Lee’s son Brandon was killed in prop gun shoot, family comments after Alec Baldwin incident

While filming The Crow, Brandon Lee was hit by a .44 calibre slug while filming a death scene. The gun was meant to be filled with blank rounds, but autopsy revealed a real bullet that entered his body near his spine.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
October 22, 2021 2:29:12 pm
brandon lee, alec baldwinDeaths on film sets by a gun are extremely rare, but do happen. (Photo: Brandon Lee/Twitter and AP)

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died and director Joel Souza was injured after actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of 19th Century western, Rust. Police said Baldwin, who is also the film’s co-producer, discharged the weapon during filming in New Mexico on Thursday.

Deaths on film sets by a gun are extremely rare, but they do happen. The guns, prop or not, used in films normally have blanks that generate a muzzle flash and an explosive sound to make the gunshot look and sound real, but does not launch any projectile that can injure or kill anybody.

There have been some exceptions with tragic consequences. Brandon Lee, actor, martial artist and the son of late martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died in a freak incident similar to the Rust one in 1993.

While filming The Crow, Brandon was hit by a .44 calibre slug while filming a death scene. The gun was meant to be filled with blank rounds, but autopsy revealed a real bullet that entered his body near his spine. It was later determined that the gun used had earlier fired a round that caused a cartridge to become lodged in the barrel. When blank rounds were later fired, the cartridge was dislodged and released.

When the bullet struck him, he fell down and did not get up after the director Alex Proyas said cut. Crew members thought he was just joking around. One of the stuntman checked on him and found that he was breathing heavily.

Brandon was rushed to the hospital but died after an unsuccessful six hour surgery. He was just 28. His performance was praised posthumously and the film became a big critical and commercial success.

alec baldwin movie shooting This aerial video image provided by KOAT 7 News, shows Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Officers responding to the scene of a fatal accidental shooting at a Bonanza Creek, Ranch movie set near Santa Fe on Thursday. (Photo: AP)

He had shared a quote from Paul Bowles’ book The Sheltering Sky in an interview prior to his death. The lines assumed more poignance after the death and were inscribed on his tombstone. They read: “Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

His sister and Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, shared a tweet condoling Hutchins’ death through a commemorative Twitter account of Brandon. The tweet read, “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on “Rust”. No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”

Another such incident took place in 1984. TV actor and model Jon-Erik Hexum was playing with a .44 Magnum prop gun during breaks. He was bored by the delays in filming. He thought the gun and blank rounds inside it were harmless. He placed the gun to his temple and jokingly pulled the trigger.

While the shot did not penetrate his skull, due to the ridiculously close-range nature of the shot, the blank pushed a bone fragment into his brain and the blunt force trauma caused haemorrhage. He was immediately hospitalised but despite surgery, he was announced as brain dead. He was taken off life support after a week.

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