Woody Allen Calls 'To Rome With Love' Star Alec Baldwin 'A Secret Weapon on the Screen' (Video)

The director praises the actor's skills, and explains why it's better to be famous than not.

This is how much Woody Allen likes Alec Baldwin: after casting him in his latest offering, To Rome With Love, the director re-signed him for his untitled project due out next year.

Twelve years ago, the mercurial, charismatic actor co-starred alongside the auteur's then-partner, Mia Farrow, in the fantasy film Alice, where he played a ghost named Ed.

"He is a great actor so when I can get him and he is available, I would always use him," Allen said Wednesday at THR and Cinema Society's screening of To Rome With Love in New York City.

"He is wonderful to work with and a great actor -- if you want something serious, if you want something comic, he's the guy. ... It's like having a secret weapon on the screen."

PHOTOS: THR's 'To Rome With Love' Screening in New York

In Rome, slated for release Friday, Baldwin portrays an architect named John who crosses paths with a younger version of himself, played by Jesse Eisenberg, who -- spoiler alert -- ignores John's advice to avoid hooking up with the self-involved actress best friend (Ellen Page) of his girlfriend (Greta Gerwig).

(The actor brought fiancee Hilaria Thomas as his date to the event, a day after clashing with photographers who gathered to snap him while he allegedly obtained a marriage license in Manhattan.)

Allen also stars in the movie, his follow-up to 2011's wildly successful Midnight in Paris; he plays a retired businessman who decides to launch the career of an unknown opera singer while visiting his daughter in the Italian city.

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One of the central themes of the movie is fame with all of its perks (adoring women, prime seating at restaurants) and pitfalls (no privacy). But, as he's said before, Allen would rather be famous than not.

"It's a better deal when you weigh the two," he said. "There are many drawbacks to being a celebrity -- to being famous. But they're very minor compared to the advantages and the pampering you get."

For instance, he noted, "I can get a doctor on the weekend."