The tears to save Alec Baldwin’s career

'What’s left is wounded gravitas and stony remorse – and if he’s minded to play it, an audience will watch'

Alec Baldwin, Film

12/4/2021 10:52:00 AM

'What’s left is wounded gravitas and stony remorse – and if he’s minded to play it, an audience will watch'

The actor's emotional interview following the shooting of Halyna Hutchins could help determine whether we accept him back on our screens

“I would go to any lengths to undo what happened,” he said, before repeating the line for emphasis – a seasoned performer’s instinctive second take.Baldwin was giving his first interview about the fatal shooting six weeks ago on the set of the independent western Rust, in which a pistol held by the actor discharged during a scene, wounding the film’s director Joel Souza and killing its cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

One of the new details to emerge from the interview, given to the ABC News presenter George Stephanopoulos, was Baldwin’s claim that he did not in fact pull the gun’s trigger, but the release of the firing mechanism appeared to be the result of a mechanical fault of some sort. “I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off,” he said – again repeating the line to ensure that it landed.

With a formal investigation into the shooting still underway, it was no surprise that Baldwin’s answers sounded – to this critic’s ears, at least – rather carefully scripted. Any human being who played an instrumental role in the death of another would surely feel strong feelings of guilt, however unwitting that role might have been. But when Stephanopoulos asked if Baldwin felt guilt, he instantly said that he did not, adding: “Someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”

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Later on, he almost sounded like a detective summarising the plot before a drawing room of suspects. “There is only one question to be resolved: where did the live round come from?” he mused. But of course there are many more, including the matter of his own responsibility as a producer for the running of a safe and responsible set.

Later still, Stephanopoulos asked Baldwin if he believed his career was over as a result of the incident: Baldwin replied that it could be. “I couldn’t give a sh-- about my career anymore,” he said.Yet the very fact of this extremely cinematic outpouring would suggest he does. There were any number of possible forums in which Baldwin could have addressed this tragic accident, from a newspaper interview to a statement in concert with the IATSE film crew union, which had been raising the alarm about unsafe conditions on sets just as the Rust shooting took place. Instead, he chose a sit-down TV interview which will serve as the centrepiece of a two-hour primetime show about the shooting, due to air in the US next week.

A three-part preview of the broadcast was posted yesterday on ABC News’ YouTube channel. And with its solemn lighting and careful dialogue, the scene felt as calculated as the climax of an Oscar-hungry drama – the bit where the stoic hero finally breaks down and lays out his regrets while the audience gropes for the Kleenex.

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There is no question that Baldwin’s distress over the shooting is genuine. How could it not be? Photographs taken in its immediate aftermath show a man doubled over in shock and despair. But that was not the Baldwin viewers saw on ABC, with a full face of make-up and silvering hair swept soberly back. Though this was Alec Baldwin as himself, he was still giving a performance – one which will determine how, or even if, the public will be able to accept him on their screens in the years ahead.

Baldwin’s career, which ranged across stage, film and television, had for a long time been a haphazard enterprise. For every truly memorable role – his viperous sales guru in Glengarry Glen Ross, the heroic CIA analyst Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, juicy supporting parts for Scorsese and Allen – there were countless miscellaneous voice parts and walk-ons that seemed to prevent the idea cohering of a classic ‘Baldwin type'.

But that changed in the mid-2000s when he was cast in the sitcom 30 Rock as the TV executive Jack Donaghy, a louche curmudgeon who seemed a perfect fit for Baldwin’s then-underexploited comic gifts. That role set the tone for his mid-career stardom. There was a Nancy Meyers romantic comedy with Meryl Streep, It’s Complicated; the lead vocal role in the Boss Baby animated films; and, after 2016, a steady gig playing Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. He was also (at least until recently) working on a sitcom with the Frasier star Kelsey Grammer about former college roommates who reunite in middle age and decide to live out their younger selves’ fantasies. But the Rust shooting has rendered that version of Baldwin defunct.

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For as long as he is associated with the tragedy – and given the horrible specifics of the case, it’s hard to imagine how the association might shift in the short to medium term – Baldwin can no longer sell himself to an audience on those breezy, bumptious terms.

Could the ABC interview be the first step in feeling out a new screen persona, and might it succeed? It’s hard to say, since little in recent Hollywood history is remotely comparable to Baldwin’s plight.Of course there have been stars whose eventful personal lives have momentarily scrambled their box office USPs. In June 1995, Hugh Grant found his wholesomely ruffled heartthrob image compromised by a dalliance with a Los Angeles prostitute. But Grant, who had been riding high on the success of Four Weddings and a Funeral, was able to lean into the blunder: his confessional interview with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show one month later was a masterclass in British cringe comedy; it couldn’t have been better scripted by Richard Curtis. After a tactical three-year break, he was the romantic lead in Mickey Blue Eyes and Notting Hill. And a recurring part in the Bridget Jones films proudly riffed on his newly caddish profile.

Then there was Tom Cruise’s mid-noughties pivot into eccentricity, following his sofa-bouncing appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005, during which he professed his undying love for the actress Katie Holmes. (They wed the following year, and divorced in 2012.) That put paid to Cruise’s credibility as a romantic lead: no chance of another Jerry Maguire after that. But instead, he became Hollywood’s premier puppyish crackpot, scaling the Burj Khalifa and dangling from aeroplanes in the Mission: Impossible films. Again, though, the shift in public perception was essentially benign: it could be accommodated, or even embraced, in a way the stark horror of Baldwin’s situation cannot.

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There's something really off in his behaviour and words. I do believe it was an accident but how could you not feel guilt even when it's accidental? A kid lost his mum and a man his partner for that alone you'd feel guilt surely? Remorse? I only see sadness for himself. Wonder why the press keep blaming Baldwin didn’t have control or setup of the weapon, he didn’t load the gun and never too the shot. Any bullshit to sell newspapers! Typical Telegraph!

Alec Baldwin: Actor in 'unimaginable pain' after film-set shooting, wife Hilaria saysIn a post on Instagram, Hilaria Baldwin says her husband has been 'somehow put in this unthinkable nightmare'. Who but liberal Hollywood can you kill someone and not be immediately arrested? Wait, he got shot too? Not saying Alec Baldwin is guilty. Just remember, he's an ACTOR.

Alec Baldwin admits career could be over after fatal shootingBut the 63-year-old US actor says he did not pull the trigger on the set of the Rust film in October. Well, i find more guilty the prop guy... Just over one killing. Extraordinary. Don't know if is 'only in America ' or 'only in Hollywood ' self firing guns who knew.

Alec Baldwin questions how bullet got on Rust set in emotional ABC interviewIn first on-camera interview since accidental film-set shooting, actor says there is only one question: ‘where did the live round come from?’ Fiction teaches us this was a murder. They just have to figure out who secretly loaded the gun with live rounds. Baldwin is asking the right question. he should be talking to his attorney not the press I'm more interested in how he ended up on Epstein Island.

Alec Baldwin DOESN'T feel guilty about set shooting tragedy Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC's George Stephanopoulos for an interview broadcast on Thursday night - his first full discussion of events surrounding the October 21 tragedy on set. He's in a legal situation, he can not say he's guilty or feels guilt clearly he's broken over this Twisted, fraud, and drunk. And Georgie wipes his heiny. Pathetic. Covert Narcissists and Psycho's have no remorse or ethics. Their Pineal Gland is calcified. Their brain is damaged from early childhood trauma. Abusers feel no remorse as they do not FEEL- cold blooded.

Sheriff hits back at Alec Baldwin over Rust shooting ahead of ABC special - updates Alec Baldwin cries during first TV interview denying he pulled trigger on set - live I did my research properly Dennismayson9 I must confess nobody handles Bitcoin mining better than you. I'm privilege to have invested my BITCOIN with you sir Dennismayson9 I'M GREATFUL. You are indeed one of the best. Thanks a million🤗🤦‍♂️🙏 Breaking news “actor cries” You're believable sir. Most likely it was a set up. Remember...a lot of Trumpist out there that want to harm decent people.

Assistant director backs Alec Baldwin’s claim that he didn’t pull the triggerHis ‘finger was never in the trigger guard’ according to Rust crew member Dave Halls If he didn’t, who did? How did it go off?🤷