Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ALEC BALDWIN

The man is complicated (like the movie that just opened), and a rock -- a star actor in "30 Rock," who's memorable, no matter what part he's playing.

I was sitting in the audience at an awards ceremony, when Alec Baldwin, at the podium, microphone in hand, told the audience that when he was a kid, he decided to be an actor like John Cullum, after he saw Cullum in the musical "Shenandoah."

I loved the compliment. He was talking about my husband.

JC won his first Tony, Best Actor in a Musical, for the starring role he played in "Shenandoah." As Charlie Anderson, a Virginia farmer, he was powerfully strong, and deeply moving, protesting the Civil War and mourning the death of his son.

Baldwin, probably in his late teens when he first saw the show, certainly did go on to make a career for himself as an actor in theater, films, and television. And he's told the press about "Shenandoah" quite a few times, as his career as a strong, macho, commanding, male star has progressed.

He's a major actor in demand, constantly working, but lately, Baldwin has been announcing that his current project is his last. And just a few days ago, while promoting the film "Complicated" -- starring Meryl Streep and Baldwin as her ex-husband, he said -- when his contract with "30 Rock" expires, "that's it."

The Variety review of the world premiere of "Complicated" says: "(Baldwin) he's a hoot -- enthusing about his re-conquest, a cat-that-ate-the-canary grin on his face as he raves about how hot his ex-wife (Streep) is ... has a blast as the paunchy, graying hound-dog and enthusiastically shares his good times with the audience."

If Alec Baldwin reads reviews, I'm sure he, (like JC), doesn't make decisions about his life, his future, based on reviews. But he's saying that in 2012, his screen career is also going to be over -- explaining, in his very matter-of-fact, macho way -- "I consider my screen career to be a complete failure."

Does he mean it? Or is it "actoritis" --the same fever that JC and our actor son get? Both of them come down with it, after every project. Most good actors don't like to watch themselves in films -- they often "hate" the way they look and want to re-direct themselves in every other scene.

(Amateurs usually are amazed, delighted, thrilled to see themselves on the screen. Maybe it's a tell-tale sign -- a way one can tell if the actor's a trained actor, or someone who just lucked into the job.)

My sense about Baldwin, garnered from the many roles he's played -- he's a character actor, not the leading-man, romantic hero type -- he's at his best when he's playing a man with convictions, a guy with political passion, who's ready to fix the world.

The way Alec Baldwin handled the mess about his daughter during his divorce, the way he doesn't beat around the bush, when he's telling a reporter, or the an audience what's wrong with our country -- culturally, legally, morally -- it's as if he belongs in politics.

He wouldn't be a Republican, that's for sure. As a Democrat he'd be outspoken, not on the side of an issue because the party's supporting it -- only supporting an idea he believes in.

What part would he want to play in theater? "King Lear" -- the father who's stunned, shocked, unable to accept the fact that his youngest daughter can no longer simply obey him?

Yes, he'd be interesting as "Lear." There was quite a to-do, headlines in media, over him cursing his real daughter for not returning his phone calls. But that's Baldwin --he's a man who's compelled by inner fires, to speak his mind.

I hope he doesn't quit in 2012. He's worth watching. You never know what he, as the character he's playing, will reveal about himself next.

Yes. I'm giving him the Cullum Award for excellence. With his name on the marquee, and his presence -- you're on a trip -- not sure where it'll take you, or where you'll end up , but you know you won't be bored.

If he goes into politics, no doubt about it -- I'll vote for him.

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