Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Alec Baldwin lost his temper this week, went on a profane tirade, threatened violence, then shut down his Twitter account.
We’ve been watching variations on this routine for a while now. The time the star lashed out at a flight attendant who told him to turn off his phone. The times he allegedly shoved a photographer and hurled epithets at another, hit one reporter with his bike and told another he wanted to choke her. The leaked voice messages in which he called his young daughter a “thoughtless little pig.”
It’s the kind of thing that could ruin a different celebrity. But while Baldwin’s latest tantrum Thursday night raised more eyebrows than usual — for aiming homophobic slurs (“toxic little queen”) at a tabloid reporter who erroneously claimed the actor’s wife tweeted during James Gandolfini’s funeral — he probably won’t lose any job offers or A-list invitations.
He never does. Why is that?
We asked Hilary Rosen, the Washington media strategist who has been friends with Baldwin since college. “What he said was disgusting,” she told us. “But I think he has a deeper reservoir of good will among folks because he’s been a progressive ally and fighter for progressive causes for years, and that’s the genuine side of him.”
Of course, some allege a double standard — that Baldwin is given a pass because of his liberal politics for the same kind of jerk behavior that nearly ruined conservative star Mel Gibson. Rosen sees it more as Baldwin’s underlying “big heart,” a man who’s given millions to charity over the years.
But it’s also not like the Emmy winner’s outbursts shock anyone these days. The stars who suffer the worst backlash are those whose bad behavior clashes with a Mr. Nice Guy/America’s Sweetheart facade — and that’s not Baldwin. “Being a hothead and sometimes a verbal bully is sometimes part of his persona,” Rosen said. “He’s passionate about everything, he’s aggressive about everything. His outbursts are as authentic as everything else.”
It could be, too, that Team Baldwin (helmed by NYC publicist Matthew Hiltzik) is well practiced by now at mitigating fallout. By close of business Friday, Baldwin been granted forgiveness by GLAAD, after he sent the gay-rights group an apology for his choice of words; he also gave an emotional interview to New York’s Gothamist explaining his knee-jerk impulse to defend his wife — and pledging to stay off Twitter, this time for good: “I just don’t wanna deal with it anymore.”