The Baldwin Progression

I was watching a recent episode of 30 ROCK where Alec Baldwin plays studio executive Jack; he portrays the typical “suit” with a calm intimidation about him. While his character is undesirable in the sense that he is arrogant and safe in the knowledge that he is better paid and more powerful than the other characters he interacts with (SNL alumni Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan), I still found myself quite partial to Baldwin. I started to ponder where this appeal of Alec came from as I remember despising him as a child. And sure, to despise someone you have never met—and as an innocent child for that matter—may sound strange to some people but I am adamant that fellow lovers of pop culture know exactly what I mean. Those of us who worship at the altar of Pop culture define themselves by likes and dislikes; our opinions on famous people and media are crafted after “research,” and can be drastically altered by one TV show or film that doesn’t sit well. So armed with my own youthful impressions and IMDB.com, I started to decipher the reason why I have gone pro-Alec as of late.

I remember the late 80’s/early 90’s Alec Baldwin of my childhood. He was the thinking woman’s sex symbol then, all slick-backed hair and piercing blue-eyed stare. Upon perusal of Baldwin’s IMDB.com list of work, it becomes every more apparent that I have selectively forgotten he movies where played more endearing characters and seem to clin to his arrogant villain roles like Baldwin in Malice. I never found Alec particularly physical attractive and his prideful roles seem to translate to real life with me, making him even more unappealing.

(Side Note: Beetlejuice is one of those films that I enjoyed and enjoyed Baldwin in but somehow the character he played is disconnected from my ideas of him—why? Maybe it was the brown hair…heh.)

But with 1999 came a film that seemed to change my attitude about Alec forever, and that film was Outside Providence. Outside…is the story of a deadbeat kid (and his deadbeat friends and family) who finds a better a life in the established private school he is sent to after being expelled from the public system.

Baldwin plays the main character’s father: a grizzled single dad with a slightly kind demeanor about him who does well to hide it. The movies is a sweet one, a romantic comedy above all else but it was Baldwin’s turn in his supporting role that is most memorable to me. He is the solo parent who doesn’t know just how to talk to his kids but tries the best he can. And it is in his actions that show how much he cares about his children over everything. Perhaps it is this similarity to my own father that changed my opinion of him. But I can pinpoint this time to when I officially became a “friend” of Alec.

This is also around the time that I recall Alec’s addition of grey hair and weight gain—a humanizing trait that lessened the “greater than thou” demeanor of his. Since Outside Providence Baldwin had continued to play arrogant pricks (his Pan Am President Juan Trippe comes to mind from The Aviator) but his aging into a distinguished actor has earned him a place among other gentleman like Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall. They are the proper men of Hollywood: avoiding tabloids and drama with the greatest of ease. Baldwin’s voice-over work in cartoons like Thomas the Tank Engine and Fairly Oddparents, (and as per my boss TDaniel "and how could you forget the GREAT voice-over work in Royal Tennenbaums?!?") only solidifies him as a respectable actor in my eyes. And yes, there was the controversy with the cell phone message he left for his daughter - but I can overlook that knowing the set-up (the tape being released by Kim Basinger's lawyer) and so forth. His humor (SNL's "Schwetty Balls" sketch) and his wit outweigh any legal battles he's having at the moment.

So maybe it was always apparent to you my kittlings, but for me, it took some weight gain and aging to make me an Alec Baldwin fan.


~Till Next Time Kittlings

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