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John Wick's Chad Stahleski Says Live Guns Aren't Necessary On Sets, But Money Talks

The tragic death of "Rust" cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is a reminder that, although prop guns and blank rounds have become an integral and iconic aspect of filmmaking (especially for action movies), these props are still extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. For nobody is this more apparent than for longtime stuntman and "John Wick" director Chad Stahelski, who infamously replaced actor Brandon Lee on the set of "The Crow" after Lee was fatally wounded by a real gun using faulty blank ammunition.

Nearly 30 years later, the memory continues to inform Stahelski's own filmmaking process within the "John Wick” franchise – a series filled to the brim with heavily choreographed gunplay between its titular assassin and his numerous enemies. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stahelski asserted that he only uses electronic guns and CGI on his set due to the inherent dangers of using blank rounds and real firearms. "That technology is out there for everybody," said Stahleski. "My feeling is that there's no reason to have a live firearm on set."

Yet, despite the fact that these safer prop guns have been around for over a decade, Stahelski says that most productions still opt for the use of live guns and blank ammunition because they are cheaper for certain people — putting the cast and crew at risk in order to save money.

Real guns have always been dangerous, but the John Wick director says they're just the cheaper option

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about the inherent danger of using blanks (which can be fatal at close range even when the ammunition is working properly), Chad Stahelski says that the real reason they're still used in Hollywood is because CGI and electronic guns cost more money.

"We can create cities and spaceships and Godzilla and all these things. We have the technology to do the same with firearms," said Stahelski. "But, for the last 100 years, Hollywood's been using real firearms... to switch over, it would make their entire stock of real firearms useless. It comes down to the fact that it would cost certain people a great deal of money to switch over. No one wants to say that, but that's the real reason." 

Stahelski also clarified that every gun-related accident he's been around has been due to human error, not mechanical, and that accidents like the "Rust" shooting have been around for as long as he's been working — despite being completely preventable with modern technology.

Stahelski's comments make it clear that live guns and blank rounds are unnecessary, dangerous props that are only used because they are cheap. Still, we have to hope that the "Rust" shooting will lead more filmmakers to follow Stahelski's example and opt for electronic guns moving forward. After all, even legendary action stars like Sylvester Stallone think it's time to do away with real guns on the set, and safety really should be the priority over cost.