Alec Baldwin Opens Up on ORPHANS Controversy, Homophobic Accusations & Leaving Public Life in New Essay
In a revealing essay in New York magazine, set to hit newsstands today, actor Alec Baldwin opened up about the past year, filled with both controversy and joy over the birth of his child.
In the essay, the '30 Rock' star discussed his recent return to Broadway in the revival of 'Orphans,' in which he famously butted heads with co-star Shia LaBeouf.
"Last year began with making plans to do a play called Orphans, on Broadway," begins Baldwin. "I was filled with hope. I had spent six and a half years on a television sitcom. I won every award you could win in television. I got paid well. And people loved 30 Rock. And I loved 30 Rock."
"Getting back onstage seemed like a good idea," he opines. "Then Shia LaBeouf showed up. I'd heard from other people that he was potentially very difficult to work with, but I always ignore that because people say the same thing about me. When he showed up, he seemed like a lot of young actors today-scattered, as he was coming from making six movies in a row or whatever."
Baldwin says that tension between the two of them arose from the onset. "LaBeouf seems to carry with him, to put it mildly, a jailhouse mentality wherever he goes. When he came to rehearsal, he was told it was important to memorize his lines. He took that to heart and learned all his lines in advance, even emailing me videos in which he read aloud his lines from the entire play."
He continued, "I, however, do not learn my lines in advance. So he began to sulk because he felt we were slowing him down. You could tell right away he loves to argue. And one day he attacked me in front of everyone. He said, "You're slowing me down, and you don't know your lines. And if you don't say your lines, I'm just going to keep saying my lines."
Startled by the outburst, Baldwin quiipped, "If I don't say my words fast enough, you're going to just say your next line?" I said. "You realize the lines are written in a certain order?" He just glared at me."
At that point, the actor spoke privately with the stage manager and Director Dan Sullivan and issued an ulitmatum. "I said one of us is going to go. I said, "I'll tell you what, I'll go." I said don't fire the kid, I'll quit. They said no, no, no, no, and they fired him. And I think he was shocked. He had that card, that card you get when you make films that make a lot of money that gives you a certain kind of entitlement. I think he was surprised that it didn't work in the theater."
Yet despite LaBeouf's exit, trouble between the two actors continued through nasty emails and comments in the press and appeared to have a negative effect on the production itself. "We closed early," explained Baldwin adding, "I'll forever be indebted to Ben Foster for stepping in for Shia. He is one of the good guys."
Baldwin does not have such high praise for Orphan's director Sullivan who he accuses of playing both sides, supporting LaBeouf and continuing on with rehearsals while his heart was clearly not in it. "I don't think Sullivan liked the play," says Baldwin. "I don't think he liked me. Sullivan agreed to do something that, once he realized what it was, he had lost interest in it."
Last November, the actor was accused of publicly calling a New York photographer a "f*ggot" and a reporter a "toxic little queen." Following the event, he was severely scrutinized by well-known gay media personalities such as CNN's Anderson Cooper MSNBC's Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and TMZ's Harvey Levin.
"Am I a homophobe?" asks Baldwin in his essay. "Look, I work in show business. I am awash in gay people, as colleagues and as friends. I'm doing Rock of Ages one day, making out with Russell Brand. Soon after that, I'm advocating with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Cynthia Nixon for marriage equality. I'm officiating at a gay friend's wedding. I'm not a homophobic person at all. But this is how the world now sees me."
Despite this, the actor believes that the theater community may have turned their back on him. "I can't tell you how frosty the reception was toward me," he says of his recent appearance at the opening of Broadway's Machinal last January. "These are all people who are heavy-hitting theatrical artists in that community and many of them are gay. And I was thinking to myself, 'These people think I'm a homophobe.' And that makes me incredibly sad."
Read the essay in full here.
Baldwin is well known for his portrayal of 'Jack Donaghy' on NBC's 30 Rock. Baldwin's Blue Jasmine recently hit theaters, and the actor will next appear on the big screen in Caught Stealing, Torrente 5 and Still Alice.
In addition to Orphans, Baldwin's stage credits include Twentieth Century, Short Talks on the Universe, A Streetcar Named Desire, Serious Money and Loot, as well as off-Broadway's Entertaining Mr. Sloane, South Pacific, Macbeth and Prelude to a Kiss.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos