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Five questions with Alec Baldwin

Posted 7:26am on Saturday, Nov. 02, 2013

Alec Baldwin

In Seduced and Abandoned, Alec Baldwin and James Toback present a portrait of today’s movie business and an elegy to what it once was. In person, Baldwin is even more candid, venting on tasteless studio executives, the pay for actors and the “fetid septic tank” of the movie business.

Baldwin and Toback knocked around the Cannes Film Festival last year, documenting the humbling process of Hollywood deal-making and trying to get financing for a film. Baldwin, whose movie career has largely taken a back seat to TV ( 30 Rock and now his recently launched MSNBC talk show, Up Late With Alec Baldwin), calls making the film — a blitz of celebrity interviews and yacht visits along the French Riviera — “one of the best times of my life.”

Debuting last week on HBO, the film is timely, coming amid a year of much debate about the state of moviemaking. In an interview, Baldwin had plenty to say on the subject.

1 Though you have several films in the works, you’ve suggested before that you may be done with the movies. Are you?

You wind up not having any faith in it, in terms of having a career at it. Everyone wants you to turn to a speech that Lucas and Spielberg gave — two very, very seasoned people in the business who talk about the business model of studio movies collapsing. What I want to say is: The business model in terms of actors making a living at it is collapsing because you can’t get paid to make a movie. Everybody does TV because you’re not out there having to kill yourself to get an audience the way you do in the movie business.

2 Seduced and Abandoned comes at a time of great handwringing over the future of cinema.

It was tough financially. Then, it was very tough financially. Then, it was unbearable financially. And now, it’s unbearable financially and creatively. For the most part. There are exceptions. 12 Years a Slave. There are movies that come along that are wonderful films. The movie Gravity is a box-office success. Captain Phillips is a good movie.

3 Blue Jasmine, the Woody Allen film in which you co-starred, was excellent.

But Woody’s in his own universe. When what you’re starting off with is “written by Woody Allen,” you have a leg up on everyone else.

4 What needs to change?

The principle reason movies fall apart is that you don’t have a good director. The most anemic guild in all of the business is the Directors Guild. There are thousands of good actors out there waiting for a job. There are so many unproduced scripts that are good. The real dilemma in the business today: There are not enough good directors.

5 Did you learn anything new about the film business making Seduced and Abandoned?

You see in the business this fetid septic tank filled with all these people, and then you turn around and there’s Bertolucci, there’s Scorsese. They don’t let that get in their way. They have their stresses. They have their own challenges. It is not a boulevard of green lights for these people, at all.

— Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

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