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Alec Baldwin Biography


Home > Actors > B > Baldwin, Alec > Biography


Birth Name: Alec Baldwin
Born: 04/03/1958
Birth Place: Amityville, New York, USA


Alexander Rae Baldwin III was born on April 3, 1958, and raised in Massapequa, NY alongside his brothers, future actors Daniel, Stephen and William, and sisters Jane and Elizabeth. Mother Carol was a homemaker and Alexander Rae Baldwin, Jr., who had studied law, taught history and government at the local high school as well as coached football. A liberal in conservative East Long Island, Baldwin, Jr. also had a reputation for outspokenness on school and local issues, which no doubt inspired his offspring to fight for what they believed in. Baldwin strove to be well read and up on current world events, even as a young teen; ultimately, to be like the father who was so respected by his family. To that end, Baldwin left Massapequa in 1976 to pursue a political science degree at Georgetown University; acting being the furthest thing from his mind at that time as a legitimate means to make a living. After three years of hard work and a failed run for student body president, Baldwin was visiting a friend at New York University when he was introduced to the school's theater department. He had always had an interest in acting, even appearing in several high school plays, but now decided to put his law school plans on hold and take a more creative and risky detour. He transferred to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and also studied with famed founder of the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. Baldwin intended to complete his Political Science major simultaneously, but in 1980, he and his piercing blue eyes were "discovered" while working at a fancy Upper West Side health club. Like many a newbie actor, he was cast as a sexy ne'er do well on a daytime soap, in this instance, "The Doctors" (NBC, 1980-82).

Baldwin's windfall lasted two and half years, after which he attracted serious attention for playing a charismatic yet lunatic TV evangelist on the nighttime soap "Knots Landing" (CBS, 1979-1993). However, his new career did not quell his leanings towards politics and public service, and while in California, he began volunteering for radical California assemblyman Tom Hayden. He also remained active in New York theater, garnering a Theater World award for a revival of Joe Orton's "Loot" and acclaim for a Broadway production of "Serious Money." In the late 1980s, Baldwin began his film career with a dizzying number of character roles, including a pair of hilariously thuggish New Yorkers in "Married to the Mob" (1988) and "Working Girl" (1988). He was memorable as the goofy bespectacled husband in "Beetlejuice" (1988) and displayed his versatility in the heavy-handed "Talk Radio" (1988) and the retro musical "Great Balls of Fire" (1989), where he portrayed ambitious young preacher Jimmy Swaggart (Jerry Lee Lewis' real-life cousin). Meanwhile he kept in step with his politics, attending the 1988 Democratic Convention and joining fundraising efforts for presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis. Back in Hollywood, Baldwin's rapidly growing résumé suggested that the gifted actor was on the track to movie stardom, especially after he landed a leading role playing hero Jack Ryan in "The Hunt for Red October" (1990). The Tom Clancy adaptation was not a critical hit but it was one of the year's top-grossing films, and it put Baldwin in a new league alongside A-listers like Sean Connery, Harrison Ford and Scott Glenn. He broke through to top-billing status later that year with "Miami Blues" (1990), which showcased him to great effect as a psychopathic thief and murderer in a hard-hitting drama. Onstage, Baldwin continued to knock them out of the park, earning an Obie Award for his lead in the off-Broadway production of "Prelude to a Kiss."

At this point in his rather short career in show business, Baldwin had already begun to earn a reputation for his outspoken despair over the politics and players in Hollywood. The 1991 romantic comedy, "The Marrying Man" left a serious bruise on Baldwin's reputation - not only because it was a flop, but because of Baldwin's alleged violent outbursts on the set and arguments with Disney execs that barred him from ever working with the Mouse House again. Co-star Kim Basinger was likewise accused of problematic behavior, and when the pair subsequently fell in love on set, they developed an instant reputation as one of Hollywood's most high maintenance couples. Despite the controversy, Baldwin was still offered a contract to star in the next two Jack Ryan films. In a snub that may have forever squelched his shot at true Hollywood stardom, he turned down Tinseltown to appear in "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway; in the process, earning a Tony nomination for his portrayal of hot-tempered Stanley Kowalski. However, thumbing his nose at a lucrative film franchise and forcing a studio to recast with Harrison Ford - was considered by many either a bold or stupid move, depending on who was asked. One thing was clear - Baldwin would never again step into the stereotypical matinee idol sh s that his handsome looks and talent demanded.

While in New York, the ever passionate Baldwin continued to stir the pot, testifying before the City Council that horse-drawn carriages amounted to animal cruelty. An expletive-riddled shouting match with a hansom cab driver landed him in the headlines. Onscreen, Baldwin's explosiveness was corralled brilliantly that year in David Mamet's universally praised "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992), in which he memorably portrayed an unforgiving, coffee-rationing real estate executive. In fact, his uncredited appearance - which writer David Mamet reportedly wrote specifically for Baldwin - was generally regarded as the standout and certainly the most quoted of the A-list lot, including such powerhouse co-stars as Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and Kevin Spacey.

Over the next few years, Baldwin's film career stalled with a spate of bad movies. A reprise of his stage role in the movie version of "Prelude to a Kiss" (1992) passed without much notice and "Malice" (1993) brought some acclaim for Baldwin's turn as a slick surgeon in another entry from the psychological thriller school, but was not box office blockbuster. "The Shadow" (1994), a rendering of the cult radio and pulp-fiction mystery hero, came maddeningly close to working, only to squander a great production design and star-studded supporting cast. Baldwin fared better with critics when he revived Stanley Kowalski for a CBS production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1995), leading to both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his work. In 1995, Baldwin became the president of the non-profit advocacy group the Creative Coalition, taking the reigns after president Christopher Reeve's term was interrupted by his paralyzing accident. Unfortunately, Baldwin probably got the most ink that year for punching out a paparazzo who attempted to photograph Baldwin and Basinger leaving a New York hospital following the birth of their daughter, Ireland.

Returning to the big screen, Baldwin gave a forceful performance in "Ghosts of Mississippi" (1996), starring as a crusading district attorney attempting to bring the murderer of Medgar Evers to justice. Baldwin's strong dramatic background was also apparent in Al Pacino's Shakespearean examination, "Looking for Richard" (1996). While promoting the films, Baldwin worked hard to repair his tarnished image and stood by his wife proudly as she reaped various awards for her role of hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold in "L.A. Confidential" (1997). Baldwin ended 1997 by leading three busloads of volunteers on a tour of Massachusetts to gather signatures for a campaign reform initiative.

The actor kicked off 1998 with a run of "Macbeth" at New York's Public Theater and followed up by lobbying in Washington on behalf of national funding for the arts. In 1998, he wrote and guest-starred in an episode of "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010). The small screen further provided one of his best performances, as a dedicated U.S. attorney prosecuting Nazi war criminals in the miniseries "Nuremberg" (TNT, 2000). Continuing to rack up the accolades, Baldwin earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, and did an about-face with a winning comic turn as a movie star with a bloated ego and a penchant for underage girls in David Mamet's "State and Main" (2000). The actor lent his distinctive voice to the narration of Wes Anderson's cult fave "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) and voiced animated shows including "The Fairly Odd Parents" (Nickelodeon, 2002- ) and "Clerks" (ABC, 2000), before portraying WWII hero General James Doolittle in Jerry Bruckheimer's misguided film epic, "Pearl Harbor" (2001). The following year the highly prolific Baldwin was nominated for his first Emmy for his role in the HBO drama "Path to War," but the recovery of his professional career sadly coincided with the beginning of a highly-contentious divorce and custody battle with Basinger.

Baldwin enjoyed a strong showing in "The Cooler" (2003), earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as an old school Vegas casino boss who uses and abuses his only friend. In a sillier mode, he played Ben Stiller's tough-talking, always inappropriate boss in the romantic comedy, "Along Came Polly." Martin Scorsese added Baldwin to his list of regulars he enjoyed working with, beginning with 2004's "The Aviator," the epic biography of the maverick and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio). Baldwin played PanAm founder Juan Trippe, the troubled tycoon's main competitor and eventual provocateur of a trumped-up scandal bought and paid for through a compliant Washington Senator (Alan Alda).

Fresh off these continues successes, Baldwin returned to the New York stage for a well-received revival of the 1930s comedy "Twentieth Century" before performing "South Pacific" at Carnegie Hall. He only appeared in the first scene of Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy "Elizabethtown" (2005), but his performance as the flummoxed athletic sh tycoon Phil DeVoss, who would lose billions on the failed design of his golden boy designer (Orlando Bloom), was a deadpan comedic delight. In fact, even a Baldwin cameo was good for a guaranteed laugh and both filmmakers and fans began to look at Baldwin in a whole new light. He continued to deliver laughs on the small screen in a recurring role on the sitcom "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006), earning Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest in 2005 and 2006. His 13 appearances as the host of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) almost confounded viewers as to why he had not strictly pursued a career in comedy, with his quotable moments hawking "Schweddy Balls" and teaching sing-songy high school French, as well as feeling up Adam Sandler in the racy "Canteen Boy" sketch. In a more serious vein, he guest-starred as a plastic surgeon on the FX series "Nip/Tuck" (2003-09) and played the dubious ex-partner of "Big Ed" Deline (James Caan) on the hit series "Las Vegas" (NBC, 2003-08). In 2005, Baldwin also launched a blog on the renowned liberal website, The Huffington Post, where he regularly published commentaries on the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, and other current events.

In 2006, Baldwin was again tapped by Scorsese to join Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson in the ensemble mob thriller, "The Departed." The powerhouse actor gave an excited and often hilarious performance as a sweaty South Boston police captain whose department has one of its officers deep undercover inside a criminal syndicate. Baldwin gained further big screen kudos in "Running with Scissors" (2006), playing the alcoholic father of a young man who puts him into the care of a psychologist running a house full of loons. The same year he appeared in the Robert De Niro-helmed "The Good Shepherd" (2006), about an idealistic Yale student (Matt Damon) who joins a secretive spy agency during World War II, only to help form the CIA after the war. Critics hailed all three of Baldwin's 2006 screen performances, but it was nothing compared to the raves for his return to series television. On "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013), "SNL" alum Tina Fey's ripping single-camera, behind-the-scenes comedy about an "SNL"-like show, Baldwin played the bombastic and preening network vice president Jack Donaghy, whose cultured air and haughty nonchalance served as the perfect foil to the dressed-down immaturity of the rest of the cast. Baldwin not only won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and was nominated for a Best Actor Emmy, but was largely responsible for the second season renewal of the low-rated critical darling which was slowly but surely drawing in new rabid converts.

Baldwin's career high, however, was overshadowed by "the voicemail message heard round the world." The actor had been battling ex-wife Basinger for custody rights to their only child, Ireland, since their divorce in 2002 - much of it ugly fodder for the press through the years, with each side accusing the other of all sorts of ugliness. Basinger insisted Baldwin had anger issues; Baldwin insisted his ex-wife was mentally unstable and trying to turn his daughter against him and keep him from seeing her. In April of 2007, things grew particularly vile when a voicemail message was leaked to the press in which Baldwin berated his 11-year-old daughter after she was not available for a scheduled phone call, leaving fans shocked to hear the enraged actor call his daughter a "rude, thoughtless, little pig" among other things. The actor made a public apology through the press and on "The View" (ABC, 1997- ) but accused his former wife of leaking the tape and violating their court order. Basinger denied the accusations, staying out of sight, but the obviously distraught actor countered that he had been pushed to the brink by Basinger's "parental alienation," and hoped people would understand his position once they read his 2008 book about their relationship, A Promise to Ourselves.

Baldwin was, in fact, so upset about how the couple's problems had played out in the press, that he publicly asked NBC to let them out of his contract so he could heal things with this daughter. NBC, knowing they had too good a thing in Jack Donaghy, did not seriously consider his plea - much to the relief of "30 Rock" fans. In fact, as ugly as the voicemail was, by the time season two premiere rolled around in late 2007, all seemed to be forgiven by the press and fans - such was the good will that Baldwin had amassed throughout his career as a truly original talent. The actor even scooped up an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in late 2008, calling his "30 Rock" gig, "the best job I've ever had." Back on the big screen, he played a philandering real estate developer in the independently made coming-of-age drama, "Lymelife" (2008), which he followed by voicing Makunga in the animated sequel, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" (2008). The next year, he gave a strong dramatic performance in the Nick Cassavetes tearjerker, "My Sister's Keeper" (2009), playing an attorney who helps a young girl (Abigail Breslin) sue her parents (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) for the rights to her own body after she discovers that they brought her into the world for the sole purpose of finding a genetic match to help cure their ailing first born (Sofia Vassilieva).

Baldwin's hot streak continued when he was nominated for his seventh Golden Globe - this time receiving his award for Best Actor in the television comedy category - which he won in early 2009. Hot on the heels of his Globe win, Baldwin received a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Comedy. Meanwhile, he sought to repeat his Emmy feat from the year before when he was again nominated for the coveted award in the lead actor category in mid-2009. Not surprisingly, he won. Just as prestigious, it was announced in November that he and Steve Martin would co-host the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010. After playing the redemptive ex-husband of a well-adjusted divorcee (Meryl Streep) in "It's Complicated" (2009), Baldwin found himself in contention for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards once again when he was nominated that year for playing the humorously arrogant Jack Donaghy. As expected, the beloved actor took home yet another Golden Globe and SAG award in early 2010 and repeated the SAG win in 2011.

Baldwin made unflattering personal headlines once again in December of 2011 when while on board an American Airlines flight awaiting take off, he was asked to turn of his "electronic device" while playing the game "Words with Friends" on his smart phone. After refusing and reportedly becoming belligerent, Baldwin was removed from the plane. He later issued an apology to the passengers who were inconvenienced by the incident, although not the airline or the flight's crew. On a happier note, the following spring the actor made public his engagement to yoga instructor Hilaria Thomas, whom he had been dating since the previous summer. Tainting the good news was an incident in April 2012 in which Canadian actress Genevieve Sabourin was arrested outside Baldwin's New York home, after trying to gain access unannounced. Accused of stalking Baldwin and sending him bizarre emails, Sabourin - who had met the actor on the set of a film a decade prior - was placed under a restraining order. On the professional front, Baldwin re-teamed with "Lymelife" director Derick Martini for a brief turn in the violent coming-of-age story "Hick" (2012), prior to showing off his vocal ability as Dennis Dupree, owner of The Bourbon Room, a fictional L.A. music venue in the late-1980s in the musical "Rock of Ages" (2012), a film adaptation of the hit stage show, and as a member of the ensemble cast of Woody Allen's ode to Italy, "To Rome, with Love" (2012). Baldwin re-teamed with Allen once again in 2013's "Blue Jasmine," which was also the same year "30 Rock" ended its run after seven successful seasons on NBC. However, controversy found Baldwin once again in November of 2013 when an internet clip surfaced in which the actor appeared to use an anti-homosexual slur while dealing with a photographer. As a result, Baldwin's month-old MSNBC interview program, "Up Late With Alec Baldwin" (2013) was suspended by the network for two episodes. Although Baldwin later released an apology for the outburst, the network canceled the series outright before it returned from the enforced hiatus.