Skip to main content

Alec Baldwin

“Constantly on the edge of disaster”

Alec Baldwin after being interviewed by police over the fatal shooting on the set of his latest film. Jim Weber/The New Mexican

The photos of Alec Baldwin “doubled over weeping” after he accidentally shot dead cinematographer Halyna Hutchins were “unexpectedly moving”, says Stephen Armstrong in The Daily Telegraph. The 63-year-old actor has never been one to hide his emotions, and his raw remorse added “a fresh layer of painful humanity to an already heartbreaking story”. Yet Baldwin seems to be “constantly on the edge of disaster – usually, at least in part, of his own making”.

His “PR catastrophes” to date include insulting the whole of Florida, being arrested for going “toe-to-toe with New York cops” and pinning a paparazzo to a car bonnet. In 2007, during his “rancorous” custody battle with his ex-wife, Kim Basinger, in 2007, he phoned his 11-year-old daughter Ireland and called her “a rude, thoughtless little pig”. (They’re firm friends now.) “He’s the most kind and generous man,” said Basinger’s late father, Don. He’s overcome some difficult things. “All but one: his anger.”

It’s the “rowdy, rambunctious” Irish Catholic in him, says Ian Parker in The New Yorker. One of six siblings (including three younger brothers, William, Stephen and Daniel, all in showbiz), Baldwin was the one who biffed the bullies. The person he really can’t stand is himself. He’d win an Emmy for the hit TV show 30 Rock and say: “Where did everything go wrong?” He envied leading men like Leonardo DiCaprio. “To be Leo! To play the role that is the fizz in the drink!” He “guards against enjoyment”, said his friend Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live. Or, as his brother William said: “There’s always something for him to f***ing whine about.”

Then he met Hilaria in 2010, “a yoga instructor almost half his age”, says Lacey Rose in The Hollywood Reporter. They now have six children. An outspoken liberal, Baldwin infuriated Donald Trump with his impersonations of the president on Saturday Night Live. Yet he daydreamed about escaping showbiz and doing something else: selling stationery or antique clocks, being a New York Times restaurant critic or a classical radio DJ. (He adores Mahler and can’t quite see the point of Mozart.) “Most people fly planes around the Earth and maybe up into space, but not all the astronauts went to the moon”, says Baldwin. “It’s the same with movie stars. Not everybody gets to go as far as you can go. And I accept that. I do.”