Monday, October 28, 2013

Image = The Renaissance of Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin is one of my top 2 favorite people in show business (the other is John Cusack.)  I have admired Mr. Baldwin for many years and right now Alec Baldwin is having a major renaissance.  Alec has already been a huge movie star and a celebrated TV star and now he’s branching out in other ways.  He started with a podcast called Here’s the Thing, interviewing celebrities and other notable people to find out what truly makes them tick.  And he has a distinctive knack for interviewing.  He asks questions most conventional hosts don’t ask, out of a true inquisitiveness and respect for his guests.  Now Baldwin is hosting a talk show on MSNBC called Up Late with Alec Baldwin where he features more political guests such as NY Democratic candidate for Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

On his podcast, I’ve heard Alec say a number of times that he’s thinking about quitting acting.  I don’t think that he will ever completely leave show business, but he has been very open about his disillusionment about the process of movie making.  He and longtime friend James Toback made a documentary/mockumentary called Seduced and Abandoned (premiering on HBO tonight) about trying to raise money at Cannes for an ill-conceived movie concept.  Unabashed about who he is and his politics for years and now being vocal about becoming un-enamored about the movie business are many of the reasons I love Alec Baldwin.  Most actors just do the same thing for 50 years, but not Alec.  He is not afraid to take chances or even become unpopular in order to evolve and stay true to himself.

Alec on the set of Up Late
He may have done so early in his career but these days, Alec Baldwin doesn't play the Hollywood game.  First, he's a native New Yorker and very involved with New York politics and culture.  He walks the streets, he's the voice of the New York Philharmonic and he publicly endorses candidates like de Blasio.  Alec, once considered a major sex symbol, didn't shy away from acting (and winning an absurd number of awards for 30 Rock) when he gained a significant amount of weight a few years ago.  (He slimmed down a lot after his doctor told him he was pre-diabetic). The New York Post trashes him regularly and it doesn't seem to phase him.  Unless he is literally tackling paparazzi, he seems cool and very comfortable in his skin.

The most amazing thing about Alec Baldwin is what a fan he still is despite being a long established member of the club.  He is forever in awe of SNL and shows up there whenever Lorne Michaels calls.  He says that Michaels and Tina Fey "changed his life" with the opportunity to do 30 Rock.  And the last thing he said when he interviewed Billy Joel (a fellow Long Islander) was, "You're the king!"

This quote probably sums up Alec and my admiration of him best:
"And yet, for everything that's happened to him and around him, Alec Baldwin shows not the pitted surface of a battered survivor but the smooth finish of a beloved entertainer." - James Wolcott, Vanity Fair March 2010