Alec Baldwin Believed 'Beetlejuice' Would Kill His Career

The actor reveals that filmmaker Tim Burton only gave him one piece of direction during the process.
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Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis in 'Beetlejuice'.

It may be a beloved classic now, but Alec Baldwin worried Tim Burton's Beetlejuice was the beginning of the end for his young acting career. 

For a segment taped with GQ that published Monday, the actor discussed a number of his famous roles. He began with the 1988 comedy/fantasy starring Michael Keaton as a deranged poltergeist who hurts more than helps when a young, recently deceased couple tries to keep the living from moving into their home. Baldwin and Geena Davis played the couple. 

"When we did Beetlejuice, I had no idea what it was about," Baldwin told GQ. "I thought my, all of our, careers are going to end with the release of this film. Maybe we're all going to be dead." 

It was Keaton as the title role who not only impressed Baldwin, but gave him hope for the film's possible success, he said. 

"Michael came and knew the secret," he began. "Because I would act and then I would have some doubts. I was much more neurotic about what I would do, and I was very young starting out in films. And Keaton just came out and he was like the comedy Annie Oakley. He was so self-assured. He just tore it up."

One of the more gross-out moments is when Beetlejuice spits a loogie into his coat, saying "Save that guy for later." That was improvised, Baldwin revealed. 

"And I thought I was going to choke, I was laughing so hard off camera," he said of the joke. 

As for director Burton, Baldwin remembered him being brilliant, but quirky.

"He would sit at a desk and draw the characters ... and he would never look up at me," Baldwin said, adding that one day the actor suggested to the director that he do his character, Adam Maitland, more "posh," like late actor Robert Cummings.

"Tim was looking down at a piece of paper and maybe this is the only direction Tim gave me the whole entire movie. He would look up and go, 'No. Don't do that.' And then go back to the paper and draw," Baldwin said. "But, when you're around Tim, he was just such a crazy professor. That's one of the earliest movies I made, and you see everything that's brought to bear in making movies in a movie like that."

Beetlejuice the musical opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in April.

Baldwin stars in the upcoming Framing John Delorean, which is out in limited release Friday. 

Watch Baldwin discuss a number of his roles, below.