ВСЁ, ЧТО ВЫ ХОТЕЛИ ЗНАТЬ ОБ АЛЕКЕ БОЛДУИНЕ, НО БОЯЛИСЬ СПРОСИТЬ
Movieline May 1994
Lawrence Grobel: The Shadow seems a departure from the kinds of films you've made before. What attracted you to it?
Alec Baldwin: It was a good film for a young audience, and there are some very funny moments in the movie for me. The two reasons I did the movie were because I read the script and laughed my ass off, and I could see it as a movie. Also, what I do is usually a reaction to what I did before.
Q: Which was a remake of The Getaway. How'd you choose that?
A: Walter Hill is a friend of mine and he had written the screenplay for Peckinpah's original movie, but Peckinpah deviated from that quite a bit and Walter always held on to his original screenplay and wanted to direct a version of his own. I was going to do the movie with Walter. Then they got into a hassle about the budget and Walter split to go do Geronimo, and he gave everybody his blessing to go do it without him, so I did it with Roger Donaldson. I always wanted to do a movie that required what I consider to be movie acting, which is that it's not what you do, but what you don't do. It's all about small, and less and less. An action film is a perfect opportunity for that. There's always a steady flow of action films - it's the most mined material - but what distinguishes an action movie is the acting.
Q: With the beating you took in the media from The Marrying Man, were you concerned how the press would treat you guys for The Getaway?
A: I never thought about it.
Q: Kim said she was scared to death before you made it.
A: I think she was scared because what we'd done the last time [The Marrying Man] didn't work, which was not fun. I have a perspective on that situation now. That is, there are 20 movies a year that are made in this town that have difficulties and problems that make what I went through pale by comparison, but you never hear about those, because it's not in their interest. So when you hear about it, it's a vendetta-somebody wants to get you. Somebody from that company is feeding information, or misinformation, as the case may be. I was always surprised that people made a big deal of it, because what it boiled down to was, I worked for somebody I didn't like and I told him to kiss my ass. So what? How many people don't want to tell somebody they work for sometimes to kiss their ass? That happens. I worked for a bunch of people who didn't have any idea what they were doing…
Q: You're talking here about Jeffrey Katzenberg and the Disney executives?
A: I don't want to name names.
Q: The problems are on record.
Q: They're powerful people. Was it a mistake for you to be so outspoken against such powerful people?
A: Was it a mistake? I don't view it in terms of a mistake. "Mistake" means would I not do it again if I had it to do over, and I can't say that I wouldn't. Was it something that represented a problem for me? Yes. But it provided me with two tremendous gifts. One is, I met my wife, which is the most important of all. And number two, now I go into everything that I do and I want to have a positive experience. I had very, very cancer-causing, corrosive feelings for a long, long time. But you know something? That was a great preparation for what I then had to go get involved in with my wife with this [Boxing Helena] trial.
Q: You were also brave to have spoken against Neil Simon, one of the icons in your business.
A: What quote did you read about Simon?
Q: That you said he was as deep as a bottle cap.
A: Someone said he was the Salieri of American theater. Which would make John Guare the Mozart. But understand, making that crack about Salieri-that's then. I ran into Neil Simon in an airport and he walked up to me, stuck his hand out. I wished him good luck on Laughter on the 23rd Floor. He's a gentleman.
Q: Let's finish the point about your outspokenness. Given the repercussions, is it something you regret?
A: No, I don't have any regrets about anything. Let's face facts, these people [at Disney] are not making great films. You cleave off the animation department of that company, and you look at the body of work these guys make-we're not talking about people who have the answer. Lots of people have difficulty there. I feel uncomfortable now, because you'll probably print my assessments of them rather than have the balls to make a statement about how this business really works.
Q: Which is?
A: A studio talks to any entertainment magazine, and who is that magazine beholden to? That magazine is dependent upon them for access to feature stories and advertising revenue. Premiere is beholden to those people. These executives say, "You print this, you put a spin on this," and I go and say, "Don't do that." Who are they beholden to? Whose story is going to get printed? What I learned is, that's the way it is across the board, everywhere. I know personally of three stories about movies that were made by that company which make my movie look like it was a picnic, but you never read about them.
Q: So it's all behind you now?
A: I learned to live with it. The only thing I think about that experience now is that it's sad. All those people, all that energy. God, it could have been better spent somewhere else. But I found myself among people where it was their avocation to make you feel small and reduced. I certainly don't want my ass kissed when I work, but I don't want people to treat me in a real reductive way either. You're making movies, man. What can be more meaningless than making movies in the 1990's? The world is becoming unraveled and we're making movies. Let's everybody relax.
Q: After you made The Hunt for Red October you were supposed to do the sequel, Patriot Games, but it wound up conflicting with the opportunity for you to do A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. Were you sorry not to have continued the character?
A: What I loved about that character [Jack Ryan] and why I was so sad that I didn't get to play him in the other movie was that it was a chance to have a real development. To start here and end up there.
Q: Do you think The Shadow might offer you that kind of sequel potential?
A: It's interesting that you say that because I've never thought about this movie that way, but I would hope so. After I did Red October, I really wanted to do Patriot Games because I liked the idea of a guy who didn't want to be a spy. But I always felt that the chance to play that kind of part will come again. The opportunity to do Tennessee Williams on Broadway will never come again.
Q: Is the theater where you go to replenish yourself as an actor?
A: I go to the theater as often as I can, for medicinal purposes. I get so down about doing movies because all the politics of it can be enormously draining. I go to the theater to see actors - Victor Garber, one of the greatest stage actors in America, Amanda Plummer, Joe Maher, Frank Langella, John Lithgow, Nathan Lane - who's more entertaining than Nathan Lane? Virtuoso acting is so rare. It gets me high. I want to be a part of that. More than the movies.
Q: Is that what you felt you did in Streetcar?
A: No. I've never done it. I've never actually achieved it. Streetcar was an opportunity to do it, but I don't think I reached it. I didn't have the experience I wanted to.
Q: Why not?
A: Because it didn't turn out the way people hoped. Some people who will remain nameless went in thinking if they just threw up the names of the people involved in this on a Broadway theater in the climate of that time, that we only had to say the name of the play, the playwright, the director, the actors, that we could just stomp the universe and become the biggest show in New York. The producers were very cavalier.
Q: What about your own performance?
A: I'm getting back to taking acting very seriously, which I didn't for a long time. I really hated it and was fed up with it - 15 years out of 35 of my life is quite a bit of time. You have actors who begin at a certain young age and there's very little change in their technique and the depth of their performances; they're the same 30 years later. And then there are those who show gradations of change in their acting, and that's a great thing to witness. And then there are the rarest sand the greatest actors who knocked you on your ass from a very early age - the level of self-awareness, the level of emotional complexity and understanding, of self-control and presence. Great acting can be almost a psychotic mix of self-consciousness and unself-consciousness. And that's the terrible conflict. You have to be free to jump off into that volcano and you have to be pathologically self-conscious.
Q: Who are the actors you respect and admire today?
A: I like Holly Hunter a lot, she's a really good actress. I like Sean Penn, Eric Roberts. When I spoke to Pacino about Brando I said the great thing about him was how much of an ass he really made of himself. When you watch Mutiny on the Bounty and you see Brando's supercilious speech pattern, very irritating [doing Brando], it's kind of like William Shatner meets Quentin Crisp. You don't know what it is. He drives you nuts for 30 minutes. And Al's great line was: "Yeah, you're watching it and you're going, 'No, no, he's going to go over there, no, don't do it.' Like he's going to go off a cliff." And then he grabs you by the throat.
Q: You interviewed Pacino for your NYU thesis paper, right?
A: Yes. I basically discovered a kindred spirit on some levels, in terms of making assessments of what works and what doesn't. I'm not saying that my experiences mirror his, but Al talked about being at work and wanting to maintain an emotional neutrality. I was fascinated when he said this. Because the winds of your emotions can take you this way and then you have to get back on course. If I have to do an emotionally fraught scene, I don't necessarily want to go there and idle in that locale all day. Like to do Raging Bull - what kind of a place did De Niro have to stay in? I don't even want to know the answer.
Q: Do you agree with the critics who say Raging Bull was the best film of the '80s?
A: Totally. And Schindler's List is the best American movie since. And they're both in black-and white. I thought Liam Neeson was so unselfish, that he's not doing that movie thing where you step up and grab the audience by the collar, like what Nicholson does in spades, or like that "I am God" thing I did in Malice. He was just right on how arrogant Schindler should have been. I watched his performance and thought, that's it, that's what I want to do.
Q: Why did you do Malice?
A: [Director] Harold Becker. I have tremendous respect for him. He's a man with a point of view. We went to dinner and we just vomited up our opinions of the world. I love him, and I'd love to work with him again.
Q: Did you like the film in the end?
A: I don't dislike it. It just kind of goes by. Who gives a shit about any of those people?
Q: At George Washington University, you ran for president and lost by two votes. Was that when you decide to leave the law and a political life for acting?
A: What drove me out the door of that school was my girlfriend broke up with me. It was a combination of those two: I lost my girlfriend and I lost the election. It was one of the first existential moments I had. I was 21 and asked myself, What am I doing? Why don't I go do something I want to do? Why don't I have faith in myself, God, life, the world? Go to NYU, do the double degree, political science and drama. I thought I would go a fifth year and do that, which I didn't. I didn't think acting was going to work out because I didn't understand it. But I didn't go back that fifth year because that summer I got booked in a gig. I did the soap opera.
Q: That soap was "The Doctors," which you did for two-and-a-half years. What motivated you in the beginning?
A: Fear. Then I did other television things, but I discount all of that because I was just trying to fit in out here and get a gig. I sometimes have a fantasy going back and doing a soap opera for a week. For inspiration. Work is work. People who are in films and talk about returning to TV often have a slumming connotation to it - that's so inappropriate, because the only advantage of film over television is scheduling. The acting is just as good.
Q: The stories can be more timely. The Lorena Bobbitt story belongs on TV. What's your opinion of that, by the way? Will this now make all men think twice before they abuse their women?
A: You say "all men." I would be surprised to learn that a significant percentage of men commit acts of violence against women they're with. I've never hit a woman in my life. I had a wrestling match with a woman once. I shoved her, but I never hit her.
Q: What about your sisters, ever hit them?
A: I don't think I ever did. I beat the shit out of my brothers and they beat the shit out of me. I never hit my sisters, because I didn't have to.
Q: Your brother Daniel recently said, "We constantly fought each other when we were kids. I got used to kicking their asses. It always pissed Alec off that I was bigger that he was."
A: I guess I'm flattered that it's important for Daniel that that perception be out there. He's a couple of years younger than me. I was very competitive with my brothers when I was younger. Now we are all in completely different worlds. I'm not in direct competition with my brothers for anything, ever. Stephen and I and Billy and I are better at staying in touch with each other. Danny is married, he has a new baby and he is very peripatetic, he goes to golfing tournaments and charity things. He really travels a lot.
Q: What about brotherly advice? Ever give it?
A: I stopped giving it. I see them all going through phases that I went through, like Danny making that comment. I think Danny's going to learn.
Q: Which of your brothers are you closest with?
A: Billy and I have a lot in common away from acting. Steve and I have nothing in common except acting. I feel I'm two people: I have my interest in acting and I have a lot of other political interests I'd like to pursue. Steven is not interested in any of that stuff. Billy is fiercely interested in politics and activism.
Q: What is your ambition as an actor?
A: If I had a dream you mean? To originate a dramatic role on Broadway. And then to stop acting and maybe produce films. Documentary films are tremendous interest to me.
Q: Pretty women are often asked about being pretty, as Kim so often is. What about handsome men?
A: You don't take it seriously. Let's face facts, this is visual medium, there's a very high premium put on people who are good-looking. But the minute you rely on that you get yourself in trouble. You certainly don't make a career out of that anymore as an actor.