Alec Baldwin: An icon playing an icon

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin is widely recognized for the huge variety of roles he’s played throughout his long, successful career, but you might not have expected him to tackle his latest character in the Dreamworks animated film, “Rise of the Guardians.”

Baldwin gives voice to an unconventional Santa Claus, with a thick, brutish accent and drawn with arms full of tattoos. One of the film’s producers, Christina Steinberg, puts it perfectly: “Who’s more naughty and nice than Alec?”

Although Baldwin has voiced numerous characters in animated films in the past, including “Madagascar 2″ and “Cats & Dogs,” you’d expect that children’s films wouldn’t be of much appeal considering his only daughter is now a teenager.

“I think that people all say that they want to … do this children’s programming for your kids,” he says. “My daughter is 17 now, my daughter is watching God-knows-what. It’s kind of frightening, but I think that when they showed me that these were going to be edgier versions of these characters — when you see the Santa Claus figure it’s usually … a rosy-cheeked, saintly man with not a lot of dimension — [it] was a lot more real, so I loved that.”

The film follows a group of guardians — all mythical, iconic figures like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Jack Frost — who must work together to take down the boogeyman, known as “Pitch,” who is haunting the dreams of children. Baldwin talked about his personal beliefs regarding Santa Claus when he was a child and how he discovered it was all a myth: “I walked into a room and my sister was wrapping presents with my mother and I was like, ‘Wait, what?’” he explains. “I think they only told me because the more kids my mother had, the more wrapping they had to do. I immediately became enlisted as a wrapper.”

But just what was it like for Baldwin to play the legendary character? “The key with these kinds of films is to work your way toward a much warmer kind of humanistic place, literally in your voice. … The thing for me is to try to vary the tone. … You want to try to keep it warm, there’s a great deal of love and warmth in the piece, [but] there’s always a chance to make it really, really bombastic especially with the Santa Claus character. There’s a chance to make it very strident. The guy is very, very powerful in some scenes — but in other scenes you want to make it silly and fun and child-friendly.”

Baldwin talks about what’s next

As he prepares to say goodbye to “30 Rock,” it seems Baldwin’s life is slowing down, as he says his career is all about quality rather than quantity now. “I’d rather just stay home with my wife and my two dogs and watch TV now. I’d rather watch a movie than make a movie any day,” he says. “I’m at a stage now where it’s more like when you were a child where you’re very present. When you’re kids, everything is very small. … Then you turn 50 — the world becomes a lot smaller and you’d rather do less things and do them well and have a more satisfying personal life.”


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