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Reflecting on his time starring alongside Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October, Alec Baldwin says he felt “completely overwhelmed” about the opportunity.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday following the news of the Oscar-winning actor’s death at age 90, Baldwin shared memories of working with Connery and what he learned from being in the presence of the revered entertainer.
“He was the first really huge star I ever worked with. I had done small roles in films, and worked with people of my own generation — Kevin Bacon, Dennis Quaid, Michelle Pfieffer — worked with some great people. He was the first monolithic movie star I ever worked with in a film,” Baldwin told THR.
Connery starred in the 1990 submarine spy-thriller, adapted from Tom Clancy’s 1984 novel of the same name, as Marko Ramius, Commanding Officer of a Typhoon-class nuclear missile submarine named Red October. Baldwin took on the role of CIA intelligence analyst Jack Ryan.
Looking back at his time on set with Connery, Baldwin shared, “He was very kind to me. He was very supportive to me. I was completely overwhelmed to be in a movie with him. He knew — he’s like all those people at the level — where they stand there very patiently and wait for you to process for about 10-15 minutes the kind of overwhelming feeling that you’re with these people. Like when I met De Niro or Pacino. People at that level. It takes you 10 minutes to kind of focus.”
Baldwin added, “Sean had that ability to stand there for five to 10 minutes. He was like, ‘Yes, it’s me. I’ll wait for this feeling you’re feeling to pass over you.’ I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. It had nothing to do with him. It was all about me and my reaction to him. But then we shot these scenes and he was very, very generous and very wonderful to work with.”
When asked what advice the Oscar-winning actor offered during their time filming together, Baldwin described Connery’s impact as coming “by example” more so than something he ever said or demonstrated. “Everything is about economizing. Everything is about making everything simple and real. You’d think that [his] character in Hunt for Red October is very driven and very fanatical in a way. He played it exactly the opposite. He played it as a man who had to remain calm and he had to remain focused and he had to remain in control in order to rally all of these people to do this crazy thing that we’re going to do.”
“And I love that when I look back on that film, how other people might’ve played that character — shouting, screaming — where he was always having to kind of terrify people into listening to him and following him. With him, it was the opposite,” Baldwin said. “He’s calm right up to the minute that he breaks Peter Firth’s neck. I mean, like right up to the limit, he breaks his neck. He’s very composed and very, very in control. I love that he decided to play the character as someone who felt that that was really the answer was to remain in control in order to try to pull this thing off. I think would have played it very, very differently.”
Processing what the loss of such a transcendent actor means to the industry, Baldwin said, “As we lose more and more of those people, it’ll be the end of an era because those are really the last real movie stars. Everybody that became a movie star after 1980, it’s a little bit different. It’s not as overwhelming, it’s somewhat different.”
Baldwin adds that a personality he aligns Connery with is a fellow Golden Age actor that Hollywood lost this year, Kirk Douglas.
“These actors were great stars, very handsome leading men, but they were great actors,” Baldwin said. “Sean was a great actor, a wonderful actor. I learned a lot from watching him about being real in front of the camera.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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