Baby boomers most likely knew him first as the brother of Valene Ewing (Joan Van Ark) and son of Lilimae Clements (Julie Harris) on TV’s KNOTS LANDING (1984-85). He later on essayed the role of Jack Donaghy on NBC’s 30 ROCK, for which he won two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe awards, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards. He has hosted Saturday Night Live a record 17 times. He also played the superhero known as The Shadow, and was Jack Ryan first ahead of Harrison Ford in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. Of course, who could ever forget his epic seven-minute performance in the movie GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS when he spewed out a year’s worth of expletives to jump-start the flagging drive of a trio of salesmen at the end of their ropes.
Indeed, after more than three decades in the entertainment industry, Alec Baldwin has carved out a legendary career as an actor. And at 59, resting on his laurels seems to be farthest from his mind. He has landed a recurring role in the Mission: Impossible film franchise, co-starring with Tom Cruise as head of the Impossible Mission Force. But perhaps, nothing more defines his brilliance and versatility as an actor than on the small screen where he has been portraying President Donald Trump since 2016, both during the U.S. presidential election and following the inauguration.
To say that Baldwin nailed the role can qualify as the understatement of the year. He was so convincing that a newspaper in the Dominican Republic called the EL NACIONAL accidentally used a photo of Baldwin in his preening, pursed-lip impersonation of Trump instead of a photo of the real President Trump.
Alexander Rae “Alex” Baldwin III was born on April 3, 1958 in Amityville, New York. He is the eldest of four brothers, all actors. His father, Alexander Rae Baldwin Jr., is a direct descendant of the Mayflower passenger John Howland. In a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos, anchor of GOOD MORNING AMERICA, he disclosed how his relationship with his father became the fuel that helped him get to where he is now. “I just was obsessed with work and making money ‘cause of my dad,” Baldwin said. “They wanted to be happy, and they were crushed by debt and money…and that really drove me nuts.”
He candidly admitted that all his young life, what became his mantra was “I got to make money, I got to make money, I got to make money…don’t want to be like my Dad, don’t want to be like my Dad.” Baldwin worked as a busboy at the disco Studio 54, and attended Washington University before transferring to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He made his Broadway debut in 1986, and acted in a few more plays before landing the role of Stanley Kowalski in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, for which he got a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor. It was just a matter of time before he made the jump into TV, getting his first big role on the soap opera KNOTS LANDING. Ironically, this was also the time he struggled the most with drugs and alcohol.
“…those two years that I lived in that white hot period as a daily drug abuser, as a daily drinker…to my misery—boy, that was a tough time,” Baldwin said in the same GOOD MORNING AMERICA interview. “There was really, really a lot of pain in there, lot of pain.”
Baldwin eventually overdosed in a hotel room, but was lucky enough to have survived the ordeal. That became a turning point in his life, and he quit the abuse. “I’m glad I got it when I did,” he told Stephanopoulos. “…not many people get sober when they’re young. I got sober when I was just 27.”
His biggest break as an actor came in the movies, when he was cast in the lead role in the HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. “To star in a big film, that changed everything for me,” Baldwin said in the interview.
There would be one more controversy that Baldwin would face when, in 2007, his angry voicemail he left for his daughter who was only 11 years old then became public. In it, he called his daughter a “rude, thoughtless little pig.” He told Stephanopoulos, “…I don’t think anybody ever recovers now from things like that, ‘cause it’s thrown in your face every day…It’s a scab that never heals, ‘cause it’s being picked all the time by other people. And…I think my daughter, that’s hurt her in a permanent way.”
People may never forget, but they can forgive. They love him playing as President Trump in SNL, enough to earn him the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series. “…the goal was to make Trump something very simple and very clear,” Baldwin said in the interview, and that it can be stressful playing the role. “It’s stressful to play him because it’s not somebody who I am in love [with], you know?”
Well, if that is a “stressed” Alec Baldwin performing brilliantly as the 45th POTUS, imagine what he could do if he were in his element. Oh, we have actually seen it at his peak, spewing “F*ck You’s” in the movie that taught us the ABC—Always Be Closing.