Kudos to James Schaffer for bringing up Alec Baldwin as a candidate for our Man-Actor series
Man-Acting 102: The Alec Baldwin Conundrum
Baldwin was at one time was one of the dominant forces in Hollywood, starring in blockbuster movies like “The Hunt for Red October”, “Beatlejuice” and “The Shadow.” Baldwin also had smaller, more impactful roles like this quintessential Man-Acting cameo from “Glengarry Glenn Ross”:
A personal favorite was his turn in the James Lee Burke adaption “Heaven’s Prisoners” as the Louisiana detective and recovering drunk Dave Robicheaux. Link to the preview trailer here.
So, where did badass Man-Actor Baldwin disappear to? In the late 90s he started to drift into comedy cameos on shows like “Will & Grace” and “Friends.” Hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live started to pile up. He crossed over to full time comedy with “30 Rock.” A divorce kept him in the media’s harsh spotlight, and, in a defense mechanism similar to Orson Wells and Marlon Brando, Baldwin started to gain weight. With his glory days of Man-Acting behind him, he’s become a pure comedic phenomenon.
There is nothing inherently wrong with going full comedy. Robert De Niro crossed that Rubicon and is making Hollywood bank. And for Baldwin, he’s probably receiving more positive press than he ever did as a straight actor. But, as a Man-Acting connoisseur, there’s a tinge of disappointment with this career move, because unlike a De Niro or a Pacino, I don’t know if Baldwin could ever tap his early career mojo again. A shame.