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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 08:37 GMT
Actor Baldwin's Oscars surprise
Alec Baldwin
Baldwin is outspoken on many issues
After a mixed-fortune career spanning more than 30 years Alec Baldwin is only now celebrating his first Oscar recognition - a best supporting actor nomination for The Cooler.

And no-one is more surprised than Baldwin himself that he has finally caught the attention of voters playing a ruthless Las Vegas Casino owner.

"I have never been someone that was in that universe before with nominations for films," he told Tom Brook on BBC News 24's HARDtalk.

If I do not come out the other end of the premiere as the grooviest actor in Hollywood...well, that's OK
Alec Baldwin
"I have been nominated for things in TV and theatre but never for the movies before."

This will be his fifth time of attending the ceremony in Las Vegas, having presented awards and watched his former wife Kim Basinger collect an Oscar in 1998 for LA Confidential.

"I don't think I have ever come close. I think with Glengarry Glen Ross people would come up to me and say 'you are going to be nominated for an Oscar'," he said.

"That didn't happen and I didn't really care because I think if you plot your career gunning for an Oscar or doing a bit of Oscar-hunting it can backfire for you as well.

Bitter battle

Alec, 45, is the eldest of four brothers who became actors - Stephen, William and Daniel. They have all shared erratic careers, which promised much but have not hit the heights in recent years.

Away from the screen, Baldwin is embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Basinger over their daughter Ireland, which is currently going through court.

He feels an enormous amount of anger towards lawyers, saying "it is no coincidence that my ex-wife's attorney's would want to colour me in a certain way at this time".

He is the first to admit that his film credits have not always been illustrious, saying he has not always "played the game" as well as he could have.

But he said that after a while he became more comfortable with acting and simply seeing what happens.

"If it does not resonate in the business in the most profound or advantageous way, if I do not come out the other end of the premiere as the grooviest actor in Hollywood...well, that's OK."

Kim Basinger
Baldwin was married to actress Kim Basinger
He added: "I can name a handful of examples of people who have great, great acting abilities, great creative talent and who are expressing it in some of the better films being made.

"I can't think what better position for you to be in - Di Caprio, Tony Hopkins, De Niro, Pacino and so forth - that's a wonderful place to be.

"But there are very few seats at that table and the number of serious dramatic films being made at studio level are a diminishing number indeed."


But he is interested in more than the world of Hollywood, being an outspoken character on social issues and politics - saving much of his vitriol for US President George Bush.

He is a supporter of gay marriages, effective redistribution of wealth and gun control.

But his forthright political views make him a target for right-wing talk show hosts.

"In the end the best analysis I can come up with is that these people look at, not just me, but other people like me and they just do not get it," said Baldwin.

"They look at you and say 'you're a middle-aged, rich, white guy why can't you just sit back and relax and enjoy it like we do, why can't you just hit 18 holes and go into the club house... have a martini, and what do you care about what underprivileged people and gay people and black people. It's all going to work out itself out'."

He added some people just want him to "get with the Republican programme".

But if he were to win the Oscar on Sunday, organisers can be assured he will not use the Academy podium as his personal soapbox.

"There are enough places for the celebrities to voice their opinions...but I think that to lunge for that opportunity at a show like the Oscars is not the best idea," he said.

Alec Baldwin talks to Tom Brook on BBC News 24's HARDtalk on Friday, 27 February at 0430 and 2330.

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