Farscape Actor Claudia Black's Advice To Actors & Creatives In Light Of The Recent Tragedy On The Set Of Rust

The tragedy on the set of the film "Rust," wherein on-set negligence resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after being accidentally shot by actor Alec Baldwin, has caused a lot of discussion around cast and crew safety in Hollywood. What exactly happened to Hutchins is still being investigated, but the picture is becoming clearer. 

Many strong opinions are flooding in about changes Hollywood productions need to make in order to prevent something like this from happening again. Actor Claudia Black, known for her roles in "Farscape," "Stargate," and "Roswell, New Mexico," took to Twitter with a plea to anyone within the industry to do more to cultivate an atmosphere of comfort, consent, and safety on sets. As a working actress for three decades, Black has been on numerous productions involving complicated stunts and firearms. Her words of advice not only touched on her own experiences but are an impassioned statement to all creatives to stand up for themselves and others when creating their art. 

Claudia Stood Up for Crew in the Past

In the thread, Black recalled a time on the set of the film "Pitch Black" (part of the Riddick franchise) in which she decided to speak up for an exhausted crew who may not have felt they had the agency to speak for themselves. 

"When we were filming Pitch Black a producer came to give me a choice," she explained, adding, "They had a problem and needed to do a reshoot with me and a stuntie." Further on in the thread, she elaborated, "The crew was exhausted. 6 day weeks are unsustainable. Mistakes happen when crews are tired and often on the 6th day. The crew couldn't say 'no' to another Saturday, but I could." 

But first, Black reached out to the crew themselves to gauge what they needed. Would they prefer to work more, or rest? It might have been a difficult choice. More hours meant more money. That's often the reason so many people in the industry are willing to push themselves beyond their limits. Black didn't want to make that decision for the crew, and instead wanted to better understand their needs. "They chose safety and rest," Black wrote.

"I returned to the producer and told him I was too tired and didn't want to work the Saturday. He looked at me for a few seconds. I was a good actor and a bad liar. He went to say something, nodded instead and rescheduled. We do a lot of things on sets that would otherwise be illegal. It can be thrilling. It's a privilege. It should never cost a life."

Claudia's call to action for other actors

Claudia Black began her thread referencing that her advice was once good enough for a young James McAvoy, speaking to a time in which he said that her words of wisdom on how to be a strong sci-fi actor always stuck with him. With this in mind, Black encouraged actors, in particular, to step up more on sets. 

"In this tipping point moment and on this two-way street; actors, please, prioritize being good people before being a great artist," she wrote. "Put the crew first. Speak up. Cultivate an environment of verbal consent." Her advice went beyond stunts in this regard, as Black added, "I offer consent to male artists now, and they are confused at first by the offer. Persist. You can always find something that a male actor does not like having done to his body." 

With over 16,000 likes on her thread, it seems like many share the same sentiment. It may be that this tragedy is a major tipping point in the discussion of how artists need to keep personhood at the heart of creativity. No life is worth the cost of getting "the perfect shot." 

"Relative safety and art should be mutually inclusive," Black ended her thread stating. "The set is my home. If it's yours too, treat it as you would, the safe haven it deserves to be — especially for those of us who never found a home anywhere else."