Alec Baldwin's upcoming role in The Boss Baby, in which he voices the titular character, and his latest run on SNL portraying President Donald Trump, bear some obvious comparisons.
"Well, I can't argue with you," he laughs. Baldwin is at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
The movie poster featuring the suit-donning Boss Baby with pursed lips, glowering expression, and the words "Born Leader" emblazoned above the infant's head, stands behind him.
"There are some similarities, especially the lack of happiness in that picture," Baldwin nods, glancing at the image.
He lets loose about one of his favourite subjects. "As an actor who studies other people, I was completely convinced that when Trump won, he would completely transform himself. Like in sports, when you beat the hell out of somebody and you win, you shake hands, maybe have a beer together, and you're a more polite, obliging person. But with Trump, there was none of that."
"He was as bitter and miserable after he won as he was before." He shakes his head. "That is a complete mystery to me."
Baldwin has made a career out of playing some rather unpalatable characters, such as his two-time Emmy award-winning turn in 30 Rock, as a bombastic TV executive.
"I am hard-pressed to remember or figure out where I cross that line to play these parts where you become like Lee J. Cobb (12 Angry Men, On the Waterfront), this authoritative kind of tough person. A lot of actors who are phenomenally successful and have the greatest careers like [Tom] Hanks and [Tom] Cruise, they don't want to play that negative value. They want to play the hero, someone that is likeable. So when you become that guy who will do that, and let's assume that maybe you do it fairly well, then you have no shortage of offers to play that part," he says. "My friends will say to me, 'What's your dream role?' And I say, 'To play Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird', something achingly sweet and vulnerable, where there isn't a drop of this strident, pushy character."
Ironically, some say Baldwin's impersonation of Trump has inadvertently helped make the American President more likeable.
"Actually, yeah, there were people who came to me after the election and said, 'Well, how do you feel that you are, to some degree, responsible for Trump winning the election?' And I thought they were kidding, but they said, 'You humanised him. You took the edges off and made him more personable,'" he says. "I don't agree with that."
The Boss Baby
, directed by Tom McGrath (
), is told from the perspective of a 7-year-old boy (voiced by Miles Bakshi), as well as from that of the older version, voiced by Tobey Maguire, who has to come to grips with the arrival of his rather unusual new baby brother. Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel voice the parents.
"I did many many sessions in the recording booth over the course of two years," Baldwin says, though this is not the first time he's loaned his voice to animate a character. "I did a little part in Madagascar 2 (Makunga the Lion), and Rise of the Guardians (Nicholas St. North)."
He has been married since 2012 to Hilaria Thomas, a yoga instructor, and they are raising a daughter and two sons, ranging in ages from 3 years to 6 months. His previous 7-year marriage to Kim Basinger (which ended in 2000), and subsequent divorce, were famously acrimonious. Those years were chronicled in his 2008 autobiographical book, A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey through Fatherhood and Divorce. His relationship with their daughter, Ireland, now 21, sparked controversy when an angry message he left calling her "a rude, thoughtless pig" was leaked online and went viral.
Basinger used it against him in their custody battle (though the message was evidently directed at her and not their 11-year-old daughter), and he stated in his first book that he considered suicide after that voicemail was made public.
Now Baldwin is gearing up for his second book release, Nevertheless: A Memoir.
He says, "I talk about some of the unpleasant experiences that I've had and what I've learned. The toughest part of it was to talk about how I never got it right with my career."
He's starred in some commercial and critical successes such as The Hunt for Red October (1990) and The Cooler (2003), which garnered him an Oscar nomination. He's also worked on two Martin Scorsese films: The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006). But there have also been misfires, including The Marrying Man (1991), The Juror (1996), and Along Came Polly (2004).
"Growing up, my family had no money, and when I left home I was completely poised towards making money. And what I should have done was go to Wall Street and not have a creative career, because when you have a creative career and you chase money, those two things can be antithetical. So I did not nurture my career, I did not do what I might have done to help my career," he explains. "Instead, I chased money in order to support my family."
He says, wistfully, "I've been at award shows where I've seen Daniel Day Lewis, and people just want to bow and kiss his ring, because he is such a great force of creativity. Gary Oldman is also someone who is very eclectic and very smart." He smiles, shrugging his shoulders. "But it is what it is."
As for what some regard as "the role of his life", the 45th President of the United States, he recalls, "The first time I did Trump on SNL, I had no idea what I was going to do, seconds before I went on. Of course I watched him and had seen him doing the debates. I saw the way he juts his mouth." He strikes one of his Trump poses. "The wig takes care of the physical and the rest is in the writing. And just like 30 Rock, I am the beneficiary of great writing.
"People thank me for 'the resistance' that I'm participating in, but I don't see it that way. I don't mind if people do, but I don't do it for that reason. I do it to entertain people," he says.
"It's just purely about entertainment."