“I consider my entire movie career a complete failure,” says Alec Baldwin, the man who has just about acted in more films, sixty-five, than ER has episodes. The quote is taken by Reuters from an interview with Baldwin in an upcoming issue of Men’s Journal. He went on to say, “The goal of movie-making is to star in a film where your performance drives the film, and the film is either a soaring critical or commercial success, and I never had that.” If we are to judge his career based on the metric of significant movies that he has been in, then they most certainly do furnish his life, ranging from Beetlejuice to The Royal Tenenbaums to The Aviator to The Departed. I mean, not every actor gets the chance to belong to films that will endure until the day that cinema is forgotten. Until then, people can see the movie and say, “Hey, that’s Alec Baldwin.” Maybe he’s not Humphrey Bogart, but he’s a Baldwin brother, and that’s about all you need to know. Besides, I’m also considering the possibility that Reuters took him out of context and he really said, “I consider my entire movie career a complete failure, but I’m still making tens of millions of dollars, so screw you, assholes.”
“I don’t have any interest in acting anymore,” he continues to say. “Movies are a part of my past. It’s been 30 years. I’m not young, but I have time to do something else.” According to the interview, he is planning to retire from acting at the consummation of 30 Rock, although he has one more film awaiting release: It’s Complicated. Perhaps he will choose to enter the political sphere since he is such an activist on those grounds. Or maybe he won’t. Maybe years from now he’ll emerge from retirement and breath new life into his acting career. Or maybe he’s too principled for that.
No matter what he chooses to do, I’ll always remember his small but significant role in Glengarry Glen Ross, which is a film from David Mamet about desperation and a kind of death of the American dream thing. His entire speech is pretty underrated. Although much of its power comes from the writing, the way in which he says the “put the coffee down line” is classic. It’s one of the top ten lines that can always be spoken at random and in that exact tone of voice. He’s so driven and aggressive, compared to the undisciplined men who are practically shitting themselves, as he makes them play musical chairs for the chance to keep their jobs. Coffee’s for closers, and I will always remember Alec Baldwin as a closer.