“The one thing about the business is when you walk out the door, you’re that guy, you’re that guy you played,” says Donaghy — er, Baldwin. “The good news is 30 Rock is a smart show, and the audience is a discerning group of people, and for them, they know ‘wink, wink,’ you’re not that guy, but a lot of people don’t. They think you really are. Like, George Reeves killed himself because he found that he wasn’t Superman. That’s not me. I find that doing a TV show, playing the same person for 22 episodes, now in the fifth year, you walk out the door and people really try and make you into that guy, which is weird.” So, why not just settle into film? After all, it’s a venue where Baldwin has been quite successful, having achieved an Academy Award nomination (The Cooler), a BAFTA nomination (It’s Complicated) and National Board of Review awards (The Departed, State and Main, The Cooler) — and that’s just scratching the surface.
“Moviemaking is a high-stakes game. You make a movie, and if the movie sucks [or] doesn’t work, you get hurt. It hurts your career,” he says. While Baldwin, who is credited in 59 different films, according to his profile on IMDB.com, doesn’t name those that fall into the career-hurting category by name, he does recall the way in which Hollywood, at times, has moved away from him before he had the chance to move away from it.
“There’s a shoreline that actually recedes. You make movies, you make hit movies, movies make money, you get a chance to make other movies. Finally, the business changes for you and it becomes like The Sixth Sense,” Baldwin says with a laugh that reveals just how unfunny the whole business can be. “It really is ‘I see dead people’ — and you realize you’re dead. Your force dwindles.”