Alec Baldwin may be primarily known these days as the multi-Emmy-winning star of the long-running NBC comedy “30 Rock,” but his career has had many facets, including as a handsome leading man of action in the 1990s and an intense, sometimes comic, character actor in the first decade of the 21st century.
Baldwin is the oldest of four brothers, Daniel, William and Stephen, who all achieved acting careers of varying levels of success, with Alec’s career the most notable.
Baldwin grew up on Long Island, playing football and attending college at New York University. He studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and got his first break on the daytime soap opera “The Doctors,” on which he appeared from 1980 to 1982. He moved on to appearances in several TV series, including “Knots Landing.” In 1986, he made his Broadway debut in a short-lived production of “Loot” and followed that with his feature film debut in 1987.
He attracted a lot of notice starring in director Tim Burton’s sophomore effort “Beetle Juice” in 1988 and kicked off a series of highly acclaimed film roles in Jonathan Demme’s “Married to the Mob” (1988), Mike Nichols’ “Working Girl” (1988) and “The Hunt For Red October” (1990), which positioned Baldwin as an action star. When the studio tried to lock in Baldwin for a series of “Red October” sequels as CIA hero Jack Ryan, Baldwin balked — and the role went to Harrison Ford.
In 1990, Baldwin met actress Kim Basinger. They costarred in the romantic comedy “The Marrying Man” before getting married in 1993. The couple had a daughter in 1995 and filed for divorce in 2001. The divorce was protracted and reportedly very nasty. Years later, Baldwin was in the center of a scandal when an angry voicemail he left for his teenage daughter was leaked to the media. Baldwin has claimed the long battle with his ex-wife over the raising of their daughter caused him to snap on the voicemail.
Baldwin’s career struggled in the late 1990s, but began an upswing when he had a notable supporting role in the 2003 drama “The Cooler” and really took off when he took the role of Jack Donaghy, the complicated network executive overseeing star Tina Fey’s comedy series in “30 Rock.”
Politically outspoken, Baldwin serves on the board of People for the American Way and has stated that he’d be interested in entering politics to become the governor of New York.