Oscar co-host and Golden Globe favorite Alec Baldwin is on a roll at 51

By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 17, 2010

Alec Baldwin has racked up eight Golden Globe nominations and has won two -- both for his scathingly funny portrayal of GE executive Jack Donaghy on the NBC comedy "30 Rock." But Baldwin won't be at the Globes ceremony in Los Angeles Sunday night. "Oh God, no," he says, calling from somewhere deep in the canyons of Manhattan. "I have to go to a memorial service for a very dear friend of mine."

It's not surprising that Baldwin would choose loyalty over being lauded. Last year, when he received a cool million dollars for making a commercial for the Internet TV service Hulu, he turned around and gave the money to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, which he credits for opening the door to his 30-year career. "I feel some debt to them on a metaphysical level," he explains.

And it's not surprising that Baldwin, 51, should be feeling magnanimous. After all, this is a man who's at an age when many actors in his cohort are wandering a wilderness between "The Hangover" and "The Bucket List." They're not young enough to be hip, not old enough to be a beloved old geezer; Baldwin has managed to be both hip and beloved.

Over the past few years he has survived all manner of thorns (from "The Cat in the Hat" to That Phone Call) and emerged not just unscathed, but coming up roses. His latest movie, "It's Complicated," is a hit (thanks in no small measure his own fearless display of male middle-aged flesh); he's due to co-host the Oscars show in March; and with the midterm elections heating up, he's even giving serious thought to a political run (and wait till you hear his line about hooker scandals).

College days in D.C.

If Baldwin does run, he'd be returning to his roots as a political science major at George Washington University, which he attended for two years before transferring to NYU in 1979.

"They were burning the shah [of Iran] in effigy in Lafayette Park," he recalls of those days in Washington. "If you did that now in Lafayette Park, you might get shot."

Other memories of those years?

"GW itself was much more quaint than it is now. It was a commuter school that had very little endowment. People went there for two years because they didn't get into the Ivy League school that was their first choice. Then you'd transfer to the school you really wanted to go to. It had very worthy programs, but it was just a shadow of what it was going to become, and now it's a very powerful school."

His college-days friends are all still in Washington, he says: "They're K Street lawyers, and they live in Herndon and Reston and have kids. If I had stayed, I might be living in Herndon or Reston or Old Town."

Of course, there's still time: A Democratic senator to his north, Christopher Dodd, won't be running.

"Well, I think the Connecticut attorney general [Richard Blumenthal] is going to be senator, and I'm hoping that Ned Lamont is going to get rid of my boyfriend . . . what's his name?" (That would be Joe Lieberman.)

"I'm a New Yorker and I live here, so if I run for office, I prefer to do that here," Baldwin continues. "And in New York, it's more complicated here than a lot of other places. There are lots of entitlements here, a lot of people who just presume the job belongs to them because they've been in line. . . . So, I really don't know. I'm thinking about it. I may be one hooker scandal away from running for Senate in New York!"

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