The great Alec Baldwin turns 55 years old today, and in attempting to cook up a proper tribute to him, we realized that his is a body of work less about hours than moments, less about films or shows than particular scenes. His career trajectory has been an unusual one: though he was initially pegged as a marquee leading man, he never quite found success as one. The good stuff came later, when he reinvented himself as a character actor, the kind of gunslinger who could parachute in for a supporting role, crush it in a couple of scenes, and slip out the back door. So to mark his 55 years, we’ve rounded up our ten favorite Alec Baldwin scenes, from film and television, for your consideration.
“Always be closing.” (Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992)
The king mother of all great Alec Baldwin scenes came fairly early in his career, with a one-scene role in James Foley’s electrifying film adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross. It was the only new scene Mamet wrote for the adaptation (which is otherwise, with a few minor exceptions, pretty much the same script as the play), perhaps to set the scene and the tone, perhaps merely to get the rather short play up to feature length. When the film came out in 1992, it was a surprise to see Baldwin in such a small part — albeit in such a distinguished cast — because he was still considered a leading man (this was only two years after The Hunt for Red October). But in that once scene, Baldwin showed a power and brute force only suggested in his earlier films, mouthing some of the endlessly quotable script’s most famous lines and hinting at the kind of work that would become his bread and butter in the years to come.