An 'edgier' holiday role for Alec Baldwin
It’s almost time to say goodbye to Alec Baldwin’s crusty Jack Donaghy, as the final season of “30 Rock” winds down. Baldwin’s eyes went a little soft when asked for his thoughts on that.
“I’m sad,” he said during a press event for his new movie, “Rise of the Guardians.” “I’m really going to miss it. But I don’t think I’d do another television show. At least not one with 22 episodes a season. Maybe one with 15 or 16.” Then Baldwin gently moved the conversation to what he was really there to talk about: His role as Santa Claus — though the character is referred to as North — in the DreamWorks animated film based on the popular “Guardians of Childhood” series of books by William Joyce.
Like the tattoos on North’s arms in the film — one says Naughty, the other says Nice — Baldwin went back and forth from being funny and serious talking about himself and the movie, which could become the first in a series.
He took the part for a couple of reasons.
“I had a small role in ‘Madagascar 2’,” he said of his portrayal of Makunga, a lion. “When you get a phone call from [DreamWorks head man] Jeffrey Katzenberg and he wants you to do one of these movies, the answer is pretty much always yes. They called me about ‘Rise of the Guardians,’ and then I had a meeting with Jeffrey and the creative people. They showed me some cells and drawings, and said this is what we have in mind, and I said sure. I didn’t really think about it too much.” But he was also attracted to the idea that this would be different from standard animated fare.
“I was told that these people were going to be an edgier version of these characters,” he said. “You know, when you see the Santa Claus figure, it’s usually Wilfred Brimley, kind of a rosy-cheeked saintly man without a lot of dimension to him. But these characters have little touches.” Take, for instance, North. Baldwin plays him as a cross between a fierce Russian Cossack and a kind protector of children.
The film touches on themes of kids overcoming their fears, and hoping their dreams will come true. Baldwin put himself right into that picture, talking about his and other people’s dreams.
“When you’re a kid, everything is very small,” he said. “You could play with a ball, you could run around in a field, for hour after hour. But then the world gets broader and more complicated and more distracting, and you have all your ambitions, and you have your sexuality and your fantasies about money and power. Then you turn 50, and it goes the other way; it gets narrower again.” Baldwin, 54, added, “Now, I’d rather just stay home with my wife and my two dogs and watch TV. I’d rather watch a movie than make a movie any day. I mean, for 20 years of my life I was like chain smoking my ambition and trying to cover as many bases as I could. Now I’d rather do less things and do them well, and have a more satisfying personal life.” So out of all the offers, he decided to do a film about fairy tale characters.
“In the world of entertainment that’s provided for children this film is something that I’m very comfortable with,” he said. “It’s very sweet and it reinforces the idea of believing in yourself. I was once offered an exorbitant amount of money — a huge amount of money — to voice a character in a video game where I was supposed to play this contract killer from the Mafia who killed a police officer. And I said to them, that’s never going to happen.”
“Rise of the Guardians” opens Nov. 21.