How can Hollywood bad boy survive this grim tragedy? Alec Baldwin is for once felled by a disaster which is not at all of his own making, writes ALISON BOSHOFF
For once, Alec Baldwin has been felled by a disaster which is not at all of his own making.
Who knows how awful he must be feeling after what appears to have been a terrible accident, resulting in the death of one colleague and the wounding of another?
There is nothing to suggest that the actor, 63, was in any way at fault – but this is not the first time he has been caught up in a controversy.
In the past, he has overdosed on cocaine, allegedly thrown chairs and phones on set during ‘volcanic’ temper tantrums, been kicked off a plane for refusing to stop using his phone, had run-ins with police and in 2018 he shoved a man in a row over a parking space.
Troubled star: Alec Baldwin plays a gun-toting Irish priest in film Pixie
Along the way there have been repeated fracas with paparazzi, one of which included Baldwin making a deeply unpleasant homophobic slur.
He also is said to have told a photographer: ‘I hope you choke.’ And told a reporter: ‘I am going to f*** you up.’
In 2013, he claimed: ‘I find myself bitter, defensive and more misanthropic than I care to admit.’
And that’s without getting into the vicious seven-year custody battle with ex-wife Kim Basinger over their daughter Ireland – the low point of which was the leak of an abusive voicemail in which he called his then 11-year-old daughter a ‘rude, thoughtless little pig’.
Tirade: Baldwin calls a photographer a ‘piece of trash’ in California in 2016
He’s come a long way off the track from where he started in showbusiness, playing a corn-fed hunky leading man in Dallas spin-off soap Knots Landing.
In those years, Baldwin – one of four acting brothers – seemed golden with promise. Since then he has faced numerous scandals.
But whatever the calamity, he’s always bounced back and is still said to toy with the idea of running for political office – as mayor of New York or even president – despite his chequered past and complete lack of political experience.
Born on Long Island in 1958, he’s the eldest son of Alexander, a war veteran turned teacher. Baldwin remembers him as a ‘really good guy’ and recalled in an interview that his father would bite his own hand during arguments to stop him from raising it.
He moved to Los Angeles to star in Knots Landing in the mid-1980s and was devastated when his father died. Aged 25, and suddenly rudderless, Baldwin became addicted to booze and cocaine.
Pugnacious: He grabs and pins Paul Adao, a paparazzo, against a car in 2013
And in his 2017 memoir, he said he almost killed himself when he overdosed at 26, feeling his heart go ‘pop’ as he began a day of drug-fuelled debauchery with two (married) female crew members. He crawled to a phone and had a pal take him to hospital.
For two years, he said he was ‘a daily drug abuser [and] a daily drinker’. He added: ‘Boy, that was a tough time. There was really a lot of pain there, a lot of pain.’
Baldwin would recover from his binges by playing the video game Galaga at an arcade warehouse, which would allow him to come down enough to go to sleep.
He finally got sober in 1985 on the eve of his 27th birthday – and a Hollywood breakthrough came in 1990 when he starred as Jack Ryan in The Hunt For Red October.
Here he goes again: The actor takes aim at yet another snapper in 2013
And in 1991, he was cast opposite Kim Basinger. After the sensation of the 9 1/2 Weeks film, Basinger was immensely famous and the pair immediately started a red-hot affair – but they also accused of making life a misery on the set of The Marrying Man.
There were reports of temper tantrums thrown by both actors.
Amid all this pressure, the film’s director ended up in hospital with pneumonia and dehydration.
Baldwin reflected: ‘Life with Kim was largely centred around the narcissistic passions of two childless actors.
Trial: Charged (later acquitted) with battery against photographer in 1996
Kim could be funny, she could be a mess. But most of all Kim was about Kim.’ He added that she would be ‘set off’ by the smallest thing.
Daughter Ireland was born five years later and Baldwin blamed Basinger for the subsequent end of their marriage in 2002, accusing her of transferring all her love to the child.
The custody battle which followed lasted seven years. Baldwin said, controversially, that it was ‘like fighting cancer’ and claims Basinger ignored court orders and prevented him access to Ireland.
‘If you did an analysis of the actual days I spent with Ireland [when she was growing up], you’d be appalled at how little it was.’
Basinger’s attorney denied Baldwin’s claims.
In court: Baldwin shoved someone over a parking spot row in 2018
The acrimonious tussle over their daughter culminated in his terrible voicemail message admonishing her as a ‘rude, thoughtless little pig’ for avoiding his phone calls.
He added: ‘I don’t give a damn that you’re 12-years-old, or 11-years-old, or that you’re a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn’t care about what you do as far as I’m concerned.
‘You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone. You don’t have the brains or the decency as a human being.’
Baldwin has claimed that he contemplated suicide over the voicemail and maintains that Ireland was never the target of his rage. He also says that they now have a ‘normal’ relationship.
He added: ‘Of course, it’s damaged as a result of high-conflict divorce. There are scars, there are echoes of that.
‘It’s tough. But I get along great with my daughter.’
The sitcom 30 Rock came to his rescue. Baldwin’s performance as a misanthropic TV executive helped the show to win every award going.
He initially fell in love with its writer and star Tina Fey but she was married and not interested in him.
Turbulent relationship: Social media post by daughter Ireland
He also had a long romance with actress Lori Singer.
After their break-up in 2011, he met Hilaria, 37. She was waitressing at a vegan restaurant.
He winked at her and she winked back.
She said: ‘He just kept looking at me and I finally walked over to his table. He took my hand and said: “I must know you. I must know you.”’
He married her the following year.
Baldwin said that what he really wanted was to have a family, and they now have six children all aged under eight including Lucia, born via surrogate in March this year when brother Eduardo was only 6-months-old.
‘I was hungry to be a father again. And [this time] I wanted to know these people.
Family man: Baldwin and wife Hilaria with their young children
‘I wanted to watch human development in real time… I wanted a family and boy do we have one!’
Yet despite this experience of late fatherhood, he has not steered clear of controversy.
As recently as 2019, a court ordered him to attend an anger management class after Baldwin admitted that he pushed another motorist in a row over a parking space.
Throughout his turbulent life, he hasn’t stopped working.
Baldwin has been in four films released over the last two years and recently starred in 8 episodes of TV series Dr Death.
The dreadful events that occurred this week, culminating in the hospitalisation of his director and the tragic death of the cinematographer, occurred on the set of the film Rust in which he plays Harland Rust – an outlaw with a bounty on his head.
Baldwin said he feels heartbroken.
Now, no doubt, he feels as hounded as the character he’s been playing.
As his daughter Ireland said to one of her siblings in a recent social media post: ‘You have been born into one crazy family. You are both lucky and cursed at the same time.’
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