Alec Baldwin reflects on his on-set experiences, favorite movies ahead of Boulder International Film Festival

Alec Baldwin has been a familiar face on the silver screen and small screen for over three decades.

Actor Alec Baldwin answers questions from host Ron Bostwick, left, at BIFF on Feb. 14, 2010. Baldwin will return to the 2022 Boulder International Film Festival as a Special Guest Programmer.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

From early roles in Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” and Mike Nichols’s “Working Girl” to parts in Nancy Meyers’s “It’s Complicated” and Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown,” he has entertained generations of cinemagoers.

In Wes Anderson’s 2001’s “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Baldwin was a faceless narrator, but his voice seemed to be the perfect puzzle piece that moved the quirky tale of an eccentric family of geniuses — raised in a New York brownstone — right along.

Baldwin will return to this week’s BIFF for the first time since 2010, when he received the festival’s Award of Excellence in Acting.

This year, he will step into the role of the festival’s first-ever guest programmer and screen “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb,” “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” and “Julia.”

After each film, Baldwin will briefly discuss why he selected them.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, fans can look forward to a more in-depth interview with the Emmy winner during “A Conversation with Alec Baldwin” at Boulder Theater. Tickets are $60 and complimentary for BIFF passholders.

On Tuesday, the “30 Rock” star chatted by phone from his Manhattan home. Between answering questions, the actor would take breaks to comfort his children whose merriment and fussing could be heard in the background. He even offered a game of catch, “Are you gonna throw the ball?” and promised a post-interview walk with “mommy and daddy.”

When I asked Baldwin the difficult question of singling out a few roles that he has been the most proud of, he said “that’s almost impossible to say.”

“It’s more about the experience that I had than how the film came out, because I never get my hopes up,” Baldwin said, laughing.

He thought “It’s Complicated” was a fun film to make, but he said he never pats himself on the back and says, “That was some great thing for me.”

Instead, he said it’s the actors, the filmmakers, the experience of being on set is what resonates with him.

He also said he loves the live action of stage productions.

“You become familiar with the material in a way you don’t in the movies,” Baldwin said.

Mentioning “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “The Hunt for Red October,” Baldwin said he treasures the opportunity he got to work with such celebrated actors. He said one of his favorite films to work on was “The Edge” with Anthony Hopkins.

“I love Tony,” he said. “That was such a huge opportunity for me.”

Baldwin has recently been part of an investigation for a fatal shooting on the New Mexico film set of “Rust,” a film that he was starring in and producing, where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, was accidentally shot and killed on Oct. 21.

During our talk, abbreviated for space, the Screen Actors Guild Award winner weighed in on some of his favorite on-set experiences, what he loves about film festivals, how technology has impacted the practice of movie-making and viewing and much more.

DCC L AlecBaldwin72
Alec Baldwin answers questions from the host, Ron Bostwick, left, during the final tribute of BIFF on Feb. 14, 2010.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

 

KM: We’re all really excited that you are coming to BIFF for a second time. You have been involved with the Hamptons Film Festival for quite some time. What would you say draws you to film festivals and why do you think they are important?

AB: [I] had to sit down in front of a device when I was young and the movie or the TV show was set on somebody else’s schedule. If you wanted to watch Ed Sullivan at 8 at night on Sunday, you couldn’t tape it, you couldn’t stream it.

We’ve allowed ourselves to take full advantage of the technology now — in terms of helping our schedules, I’m not quite so sure it has. It’s another stress. “When am I going to be able to watch, you know, the next block of ‘Ozark’,” or whatever you’re contemplating.

For me, a film festival is a time of pure concentration and pure indulgence. You go there and you sit in a room, you don’t go to a film festival to watch it on an iPad. You go to a film festival, you watch a movie on a screen the way it’s meant to be seen. You eat it whole, you digest it whole. You don’t press pause and get up and go make a phone call or pickup your Chinese takeout or whatever. You sit down and watch the movie the way that the director meant for you to see it. That level of just basic — that’s the operative word — is just basic concentration, which has been lost in the viewing sphere lately.

Now everything is so you can press pause. Everything’s so you can watch a piece of it now, then a piece of it later … We’ve embraced convenience and what we’ve lost is context. What we’ve lost is perspective. I think a movie is meant to be seen, you start the movie, you watch the whole thing and you have that experience in real time. You watch that movie and you don’t turn it off … I think film festivals provide you with an opportunity to do things the right way.

DCC L BIF 01
BIFF Directors Robin Beeck, left, and Kathy Beeck present actor Alec Baldwin with an Award of Excellence at BIFF 2010. (Randy Malone/Courtesy photo)

KM: How has the business changed since you started?

AB: The business has struggled to try to figure out what audiences want. In that struggle, they’ve delivered some staggering results … I mean there is so much creativity, but at the same time, the business seeks to kind of widgetize the product.

Like, we want to get this into the computer realm because … we’re looking for liability. We’re looking for a kind of uniformity and a kind of reliability that human beings aren’t always prepared to offer.

And so, when you watch, like, these Marvel movies, the fittest person is the star because they’ve taken most of the acting out of it. There’s some. It would be unfair and it would be inaccurate for me to say that there’s none, but I would say that there’s just a lot less than I’ve normally encountered in a film script … The acting is gravy. If someone can act, then that’s an added bonus, but they don’t have to. The films don’t even require them to.

If you can do anything as a result of computers — and I said this during “The Boss Baby” press tour — then the question becomes, can your imagination keep up with technology? If the computer can render anything, then what do you want it to do? And you see all these fantastic images, but there’s very little screen directions. There’s very little plot development. People pop up on screen, you have no idea who they are or why you should care about them.

For me, I’m not just going to watch Fred Astaire movies, but I think that I tend to like movies more where the people … are human beings. Someone pointed out to me that (Tom) Cruise … I did a couple of “Mission Impossible” films — like small parts in two of them — and the thing someone pointed out about Tom is he’s the only one that’s playing a character. Even though everything is enhanced cinematically, he’s the only one playing a character where it’s a human being doing all those things. It’s a human being pushed to the outer limits of what human beings can do. And Tom is not playing the person with any special powers beyond any human powers. And I find that kind of thrilling when I heard that.

DCC L AlecBaldwin32
Actor Alec Baldwin answers questions from the host, Ron Bostwick, left, during the final tribute of BIFF on Feb. 14, 2010. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

KM: What’s your go-to film you watch when you need a good cry and one you stream when you need a good laugh?

AB: The answer’s probably the same. When I want to watch someone who inspires me, who comforts me as an actor or someone who just, it’s like a drug, I’m just so appreciative of their talent — I’ll watch Tony (Anthony) Hopkins in “Remains of the Day.” I’ll watch Tony Hopkins in “Silence of the Lambs” or in “Hannibal,” I love (Ridley) Scott’s take on that. I love “The Dresser.” I love Albert Finney. I crave Albert Finney. Whenever I’m feeling useless and hopeless and wonder why am I doing this for a living, I watch “The Dresser.” It really inspires me for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with now.

No. 2, is any Woody Allen movie. Woody Allen makes me laugh — “Broadway Danny Rose,” “Radio Days,” any of his great comedies, “Bullets Over Broadway.”

KM: Well, I loved “Blue Jasmine.”

AB: Yeah, I had fun doing that with Cate (Blanchett). Yeah, I love Cate. Cate’s a force, a force of nature …

If I want something that’s exciting … and that doesn’t necessarily mean violence, I watch all the great modern crime films like “Goodfellas,” “The Godfather,” “Taxi Driver,” you know, (Martin) Scorsese, (Francis Ford) Coppola (Brian) De Palma, “Scarface,” all that stuff. Some of it is just so operatic, It’s ridiculous. I mean, it’s crazy, but still enjoyable.

DCC L AlecBaldwin77
Alec Baldwin answers questions from the host, Ron Bostwick, left, during the final tribute of BIFF on Feb. 14, 2010.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

KM: What advice would you give your teenage self in regards to having a successful and lasting career in the industry?

AB: To not take it so seriously. I think that if you start to think about what you have to lose, what you have to defend, how marketable are you, you know, how groovy are you in the movie, it actually kills your concentration … just act and focus on that.

I was doing the TV series “Knots Landing” years ago, and Julie Harris played my mother. I was in discussions with people to have them be my publicist — I was getting a publicist for the first time. Julie Harris turned to me very quietly, without a lot of fanfare, and said to me “don’t get a publicist.” She said, “let the work speak for itself.” You want to know something? How I wish I’d listened to her back in 1984.

We wish to give thanks to the author of this article for this incredible content

Alec Baldwin reflects on his on-set experiences, favorite movies ahead of Boulder International Film Festival

Debatepost