Speaking with Alec Baldwin is an intense experience. He definitely is smart, but he can be a bit condescending. He's arrogant about some things, humble about others.
And he definitely still sees TV as slumming as opposed to the movie business, despite all the awards he won for 30 Rock.
Baldwin appeared at the Television Critics Association tour last summer to promote his documentary Seduced and Abandoned, which premieres Monday, Oct. 28 on HBO Canada. It's a movie about the movie business, with Baldwin and director James Toback going to the Cannes Film Festival and trying to secure financing for a proposed project.
Baldwin touched upon a number of subjects when speaking to TV critics, so I'll just give him the floor. Let's start with, well, TV:
"Television is the world of the showrunner, of the writer, of the writer/producer, I have found," Baldwin says. "(Aaron) Sorkin calls the shots and (David) Chase calls the shots and (Matthew) Weiner calls the shots on Mad Men and so forth. And so the actors really don't have as much power as you think they have. But they're often handed more of a piece of the bill when the thing gets, you know, skewered."
On financial viability: "If you don't find some way to work in films that are going to make some money, then it's going to be a tough road. Not that you can put yourself in those films. But if they come your way, to not dismiss them outright, and try to have a career like Hugh Jackman, who is probably one of the more successful people in the 'one-for-them/one-for-me' program."
On Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who is one of the interview subjects in Seduced and Abandoned: "You see how kind of edgy and savvy he is," Baldwin says. "He's just so much smarter about the business than I was when I was that age. These young people today who come up, they have to have a realism about the business that I didn't quite have until I was probably 40 or 45."
On longevity: "You never have to wonder about where you stand in the business because - and this is a condition of being in the business - someone's always sticking a thermometer in your mouth and telling you how hot you are or not," Baldwin says. "There are very few people like (Tom) Cruise and (Tom) Hanks and Julia Roberts and Denzel (Washington) who go on for decades and have the best scripts, the best directors, the release dates, the studios behind them, the money, which is a big part of it, too, to buy the weekend, and rewrites and casting and musical score. All of the varied elements that make a movie a good movie, they have a lot of that at their disposal. God bless them, that's great. But for everybody else, the movie business is a lot of white water. If it doesn't work out, you wind up going and doing independents or you do television. I went to Cannes knowing there was nothing those people could say to me or about me that I didn't already know."