'Say Hello to Your New Daddy'

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AUTHOR: James Wolcott, eccentric wordsmith of Vanity Fair

LENGTH: 1862 words

SUBJECT: Alec Baldwin

OPENING QUESTION: "How did Alec Baldwin achieve this bizarre headlock on our affections?"

ANALOGIES EMPLOYED: "Young Elvis and Old Elvis," English Restoration comedy, bears, baked goods


EUPHEMISM FOR 'FAMILY TROUBLES': "acute cabin pressure closer to home"

DESCRIPTIONS OF ALEC BALDWIN: "your new daddy"; "a veteran combatant in the fine art of acrimony, the bruised mascot for the male midlife crisis"; "a cocky brooder"

ALSO: "A chewy chunk of beefsteak"

WHAT BALDWIN DID NOT DO AS HE AGED: "Turn into a steaming cup of coffee ... acquire an armadillo shell ... or become an empty bag of tricks"

WHAT HE DID BECOME: "hirsute," rotund

SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: "abjuring the dreaded Robin Williams crinkle-­twinkle"

SPECIAL ABILITY: He just might be able to "tear somebody in two as if they were a croissant"


Baldwin can hold his own with anyone on-screen, but he doesn't have that one defining movie and one defining role that fit together like sword and scabbard. He also has a restless intelligence, as evidenced not only by his interviews but also by the book he did with Mark Tabb, A Promise to Ourselves, about fatherhood, divorce, and family law (one of the few celebrity-spawned books with gravitas)--a nervous energy and catholic range of interests which make it harder for him to cool his loafers for hours waiting for the crew to light the freaking set. So perhaps the smoke signals he's sending up about retiring aren't a bluff. But I can't help but think that if he gets the chance to work with Meryl Streep again he won't say no. That would be like turning down dessert, and he's a cat who can't resist cream.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.