Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where did Alec Baldwin Come From?

How did this once rising actor resurrect his career?

Alec Baldwin started out small doing stints on Soap Opera's and supporting roles on TV shows in the 80's.  Baldwin was able to not only parlay this into a solid acting career, but into 3 other acting careers for his younger brothers.  Thank God for nepotism, the world would not be the same without the talents of Daniel, William, and Stephen Baldwin.

None of his brothers were able to capture the success of Alec.  It was as if...he had...more talent than the three of them did...or something.  Combined.  But that is just a guess on my part, truth is, we will never know why the 3 younger Baldwin brothers were never able to reach the same level of success.

Baldwin's quick rise to success seemed to hit it's peak in the late 80's and early 90's.  Starring in classics like Beetlejuice (1989) and The Hunt for Red October (1990) seemed to solidify Baldwin as a Hollywood presence.  Then it seems Baldwin was starting to receive some, we'll call it poor, career advice.  He started taking rolls in movies destined to flop such as Prelude to a Kiss (1992), Malice (1993), and The Getaway (1994).  In a last ditch effort to restore his Hollywood reputation, Baldwin attempted to solidify himself as a superhero with the epic The Shadow (1994).

The Shadow was a comic book superhero movie before those movies were popular.  Hoping to cash in on the success of the comic book movies of that time (mainly Batman and Superman) The Shadow was hoping to be next true success.  However, the movie bombed and that seemed to be the turning point in his career.

Take a look at all of the movies he starred in after the Shadow until his Oscar nominated role in The Cooler in 2003:  Two Bits (1995), The Juror (1996), Heavens Prisoners (1996), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), The Edge (1997), Thick as Thieves (1998), Mercury Rising (1998), The Confession (1999), Notting Hill (1999), Outside Providence (1999), State and Main (2000), Pearl Harbor (2001), Cats & Dogs (2001), Final Fantasy:  The Spirits Within (2001), The Royal Tennanbaums (2001), The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002).  Quite the lists of films.  Out of the 16 films just listed there are only 3 movies in which his role was in any way a focal point of the movie and memorable:  The Edge, Outside Providence, The Royal Tennenbaums.  The rest were forgettable and some where atrociously bad (see:  Pearl Harbor).

The Cooler did a lot to get his respectability back, but he still had to gain back the respect of the fans.  Alec Baldwin had become a societal joke.  His ugly divorce with Kim Basinger and anger issues had landed him a guest spot on many a late night monologue.  Just the pure difference in his physical appearance from his early days to his current state was funny.  Evidence:

(<-- Baldwin Circa 1989:  Beetlejuice; does that even look like him?)

(-->Baldwin semi-recent:  We all put on some weight over the years, but has added a couple chins as well)

One of two things can happen once you reach the epic level of societal joke that Baldwin reached.  You can roll with it and make the best of it, or you can completely go against it and try to alienate yourself even more from the public (see:  Sean Penn, in case you need help finding Mr. Penn, google "douchebag" and I'm sure you will find him).  What makes Baldwin so awesome and what has revived his career is how he embraced his newfound reputation.  Instead of trying to take serious roles and re-establish himself and all that, he took many humorous roles and played them with a sort of tongue in cheek stoicism that he has now become known for.  He literally reinvented his career and is now on one of the most successful shows on television, has won many Emmy's and Golden Globes, and has a now burgeoning movie career.

Baldwin's roles in movies such as The Aviator, The Departed, My Best Friend's Girl, and It's Complicated have endeared him to a whole new set of fans and labeled him with the moniker of one of the funniest men in Hollywood.  If someone like Anthony Michael Hall could have done this instead of sticking to his guns then he wouldn't be guest spotting on Entourage as the guy that peed off the balcony.

I think it would be best to parallel the career of Alec Baldwin to the closing pitcher Brad Lidge.  Lidge was a shutdown force in the National League and had owned many teams including the St. Louis Cardinals.  This parallels Baldwins rise to prominence with Beetlejuice and The Hunt for Red October.

However, come 2005 Lidge faced Albert Pujols in the 9th inning in game 5 of the NLCS.  Pujols took a pitch from Lidge and crushed one that I believe has established it's own orbit as Earth's second moon.  This was Lidge's version of filming "The Shadow."  Lidge's team was able to win the series nevertheless, but he gave up another walkoff homerun in the World Series as his team lost the series.  He was never the same after that.

That is until 2008 when his career was resurrected with the Philadelphia Phillies and he helped them win a World Series.  He was back and better than he was before.  This is Lidge's version of signing on to do 30 Rock.  That is how Baldwin is now, like a slightly pudgier and much funnier phoenix rising from the ashes, his career is hotter than ever and we are all reaping the benefits cause Baldwin is quite hilarious.

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