The “In Memoriam” segment is one of the Oscars’ most cherished traditions, offering an annual opportunity to pay respects to beloved stars and industry veterans who died over the course of the year. This year’s segment was always going to attract more scrutiny than usual, however, as it promised to answer the question of how the on-set shooting death of Halyna Hutchins would be addressed on Hollywood’s biggest night.
During the segment, Hutchins was featured in the memorial montage, alongside actors and creators like Olympia Dukakis and Melvin Van Peebles. However, select notables were additionally recognized with speeches—Jamie Lee Curtis memorialized Betty White, Bill Murray spoke about Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, and Tyler Perry eulogized Sidney Poitier. Hutchins died early in her career, but she literally lost her life while working on a Hollywood film. The challenging but ultimately more meaningful move would’ve been to spare a moment to speak about her, too.
Hutchins was killed while filming Rust last October, after the movie’s star, Alec Baldwin, fired a prop gun containing a live round at her during rehearsal. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the shooting.
In the days and weeks after the accident, reports emerged of a production that employed inexperienced and non-union workers to save money and cut corners in terms of safety. Before the shooting halted filming, members of the crew walked off the set in protest of the conditions they’d been forced to work under.
Baldwin, who was also among the movie’s producers, has denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death. Earlier this month, he filed an arbitration demand against the film’s other producers, claiming that he should not be held financially liable for the accident.
“This is a rare instance when the system broke down, and someone should be held legally culpable for the tragic consequences,” read the claim. “That person is not Alec Baldwin.”
Hutchins’s family doesn’t agree: They’ve sued Baldwin, as well as the film’s other producers, in a wrongful death suit that alleges their “reckless behavior and cost-cutting” lead to her death.