Alec Baldwin. Three-time Emmy winner, Oscar nominee, impersonator extraordinaire, and reported loose cannon. His name alone can excite a room, sparking excited discussions about his controversies over the years, or inspiring imitations of his own, stellar, hard-hitting Donald Trump impression, stretchy syllables and all.
As the eldest, and arguably most popular of a clan of acting brothers, Baldwin has built quite the platform for himself over the last few decades. Some would even say empire. His net worth is estimated at a shiny, staggering $60 million. With an impressive career stretching back to the fuzzy, glowing television shows of the 80s to his present day, much celebrated SNL gig, Baldwin has become one of the most recognizable actors in the industry. Iconic roles including Beetlejuice‘s tranquil Adam Maitland, 30 Rock‘s beloved, if not slightly sleazy Jack Donaghy, and the more recent, ever charming Boss Baby hang from his belt like glittering charms. But above those charms is a proverbial albatross around his neck, comprised of several highly publicized arrests and countless reported scuffles, (mainly with the press) over the years. His talent is undoubtable. As is his temper! What, you may be asking, are the reasons for all that drama?
It’s kind of a lot. Here’s a look at every time Baldwin lit his fuse.
Alec vs. Alan
A soft faced, blue eyed Alec Baldwin, then most well known for his heartthrob roles on television shows The Doctors and Knots Landing, found himself in a tabloid scandal in 1995 after getting into a heated argument with infamous paparazzi photographer Alan Zanger. As chronicled by the Los Angeles Times, Zanger was something of a celebrity himself at the time. The bespectacled shutterbug was known for being immensely devoted to his mission, even once famously taking a hit from a baseball bat by another celebrity before his scuffle with Baldwin. That day, however, Zanger was lingering around Baldwin’s house as he and his wife brought their newborn daughter, Ireland, home from the hospital. This fight resulted in Baldwin allegedly punching Zanger in his face, breaking his nose. He was arrested that day and Zanger sued him for assault. Baldwin then counter-sued for invasion of privacy.
In his statement following the incident (via the Los Angeles Times), Baldwin said, “Anyone with a shred of human decency would understand that there are times in your life when you want your privacy respected, whether you are a public figure or not,” Oddly, the jury ultimately decided that both parties were at fault, with Zanger being “25 percent responsible for the incident,” per E! As a result, Baldwin paid just $4,500 in damages to Zanger — a small price to pay for the rising actor, but his reputation had undoubtedly taken a much larger hit.
Press 1 to hear Alec Baldwin rage out on his daughter
Ears perked around the nation in April 2007 after TMZ broke the news of a leaked voicemail Alec Baldwin left his then-eleven year old daughter Ireland Baldwin in which he called her a “rude, thoughtless little pig.” The voicemail spans for an impossible two minutes and includes Baldwin saying, “You’ve made me feel like s**t.” He also threatened to “straighten [her] a** out.” It ends with him warning her, “You better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with me.” The call was reportedly placed on April 11th.
To put these comments into perspective, Alec and ex-wife actress Kim Basinger had been divorced since 2002, but continued to fight over Ireland’s custody. The voicemail was left when Ireland failed to answer Baldwin’s scheduled call that morning, something he alleged she would “never dream of doing to [her] mother.” The voicemail became infamous, and was used in many punchlines, including by Ireland, who re-hashed the incident at a 2019 roast of her dad. The younger Baldwin made the audience roar after joking, “I almost didn’t even know about [the roast], because I haven’t checked my voicemails from my dad from the last, like 12 years.”
Although the voicemail is more often than not thought of as a joke, the way Alec seethes with anger in the message is still potent enough to be felt today. While discussing the ugly message in 2017, Teen Vogue described it as “abusive and cruel.”
Alec's anger at 10,000 feet
Just a few years after the troubling voicemail leak, and after winning back-to-back Emmys for his performance in 30 Rock, Baldwin found himself in trouble once again. This time, he was kicked off an American Airlines flight after refusing to turn off his phone during an apparently very important match of Words With Friends. Afterwards, in classic Baldwin fashion, he turned to Twitter to let off some steam. In the since-deleted tweets that followed, he bashed the airline, writing (via The Guardian) it was, “where Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950’s find jobs as flight attendants.”
The story got tons of coverage in the media, even prompting a response from the airline, which described Baldwin during the incident as “extremely rude” and “calling people ‘inappropriate names’ and using offensive language.” Baldwin later apologized in an article he wrote for HUFFPOST titled, “My Flying Lesson.” He began the article in a relatively genuine way, writing, “I would like to apologize to the other passengers onboard the American Airlines flight that I was thrown off of yesterday.” By the end of the piece, however, he couldn’t help but repeat his own zinger: “The lesson I’ve learned is to keep my phone off when the 1950’s gym teacher is on duty.”
Baldwin The Bull
As you’ve surely learned by now, Alec Baldwin does not care for the paparazzi in the slightest, which is why this incident comes as no real surprise to those well-versed in his controversies. In bright, broad New York daylight, only moments after Baldwin received his marriage license in June 2012, a photographer named Marcus Santos waited outside of the marbled Worth St. office in Manhattan. According to the pap’s employer, the Daily News, he attempted to snap a few shots of Baldwin as he came out of the building. Baldwin must not have been feeling photogenic, because he allegedly proceeded to attack the photographer in front of a gathering crowd of witnesses, “shoving and punching” him.
After the incident, Santos told the Daily News that Baldwin “lunged at [him] like raging bull.” As if that image wasn’t awful enough, in his statement following the incident, Baldwin tweeted, “I suppose if the offending paparazzi was wearing a hoodie and I shot him, it would all blow over.” This blatant reference to slain teenager Trayvon Martin did nothing to help Baldwin’s dwindling public image and instead sparked more controversy to an already contentious situation. Although Santos “filed [a] complaint” with police, Baldwin never faced charges.
A little over a year later, in August 2013, Baldwin scuffled with another NY photog (shown above), however when police were called to the scene, they both confessed to getting physical and agreed not to pursue charges against each other.
A history of homophobia haunts Alec Baldwin
To continue the streaming litany of unfortunate headlines, Alec Baldwin once again faced off with a photographer, this time outside of his Manhattan home. Baldwin was caught on video hurling what sounded like a homophobic slur at the photog. The incident sparked major public backlash, including a response from openly gay journalist Anderson Cooper, who referenced alleged homophobic incidents from Baldwin’s past by tweeting, “Wow, Alec Baldwin shows his true colors yet again. How is he going to lie and excuse his anti-gay slurs this time?”
According to CNN, Baldwin fulfilled Cooper’s prophecy and used his apology to deny using one part of the slur, while claiming he was only “informed” after-the-fact that another part of it was, indeed, an “an anti-gay epithet.” The apology, however, evidently fell onto deaf ears for those who had enough of his upsetting behavior.
After this latest photo rage incident, and combined with accusations of abusive backstage behavior on Up Late With Alec Baldwin, MSNBC eventually cancelled his show following a two week suspension. A rep from MSNBC had little to say in their statement, briefly noting, “This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best.” Baldwin spoke with Gothamist reporters afterwards, saying, “There’s nothing you can do when you get thrown in this washing machine, nothing. You know? Nothing. All you end up doing is just defending yourself all day long.”
Is anyone still unclear on how Alec Baldwin feels about the press? Well, for starters, after his physical altercation with photographer Marcus Santos of the Daily News in 2012, Baldwin tweeted the hashtag #allpaparazzishouldbewaterboarded. He deleted it — probably after a frantic call from a lawyer — but ET Canada provided the quote for posterity.
By now, stories of Baldwin’s bad attitude towards journalists have long become lore. Even New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman had a tale to tell of tangoing with the 30 Rock star. In 2018, she tweeted that he once “used his account with hundreds of thousands of followers to berate [her],” the blocked her, following her coverage of a fundraiser he’d held that he apparently didn’t like. That opened the door for ABC News reporter Tara Palmeri to chime in, claiming that Baldwin told her, “I hope you choke to death” while she was on assignment “staking his house.” According to the Daily Mail, that was in 2013, when Palmeri worked for the New York Post and was trying to ask Baldwin questions about a lawsuit involving his wife Hilaria. At the time, Baldwin did not deny that he made the comment to Palmeri, but reportedly said “it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.”
You know, how you’re always joking around about choking people to death? It was like that.
Alec Baldwin's big bike adventure
This instance is something straight out of one of Alec Baldwin’s comedies. It’s so absurd! In May 2014, TMZ reported the breaking news: Baldwin had once again been arrested. This time, it was for riding his bike in the wrong direction down a couple NYC streets. CNN reported that things only went downhill when Baldwin got rowdy with police. Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster told the outlet that the star was “belligerent and started arguing with them and using profanity.” On top of the dramatics, Baldwin didn’t have ID on him, which led not only to a classic “Do you know who I am?” meltdown, but also to officers taking him to the police station to be identified. He was charged with disorderly conduct.
Upon release, Baldwin did what he does best: he vented on Twitter. “New York City is a mismanaged carnival of stupidity that is desperate for revenue and anxious to criminalize behavior once thought benign,” the enraged star tweeted. Maybe he was just embarrassed for going the wrong way?
Baldwin’s biking mishap landed him in court in July 2014. According to the Daily News, a seemingly bemused Judge John DeLury cheekily asked Baldwin, “Can you stay out of trouble, Alexander?” to which Baldwin said, “Sure, sure.” He was told that if he stayed out of trouble for the next six months, all charges would be dropped. Baldwin agreed, and reportedly walked out to his car without another word.
Was Alec Baldwin's memoir actually a bunch of fiction?
When Alec Baldwin released Nevertheless: A memoir in 2017, some hoped it would finally allow the actor to clear his name among his string of controversies. Sadly, it only sparked more.
According to The Wrap, Baldwin claimed in the book that he didn’t know co-star Nikki Reed’s age when they filmed their raunchy 2006 film, Mini’s First Time. Reed was only sixteen, but Baldwin wrote, “It never occurred to me to ask how old she was. When I found out that she was seventeen, I flipped out on the producers, who had told me something different.” In the film, Baldwin’s character has an affair with his stepdaughter, played by Reed, that quickly escalates out of control.
In light of these claims, Mini’s First Time producer Dana Brunetti wrote several tweets outright debunking them. In one tweet, Brunetti alleged that Baldwin not only knew of Reed’s age, “he didn’t mind.” He also went denied that he had ever been “flipped out” on by Baldwin. While Reed seemingly never commented, Baldwin and Brunetti engaged in protracted Twitter war, slinging insults back and forth for hours, with Brunetti calling Baldwin a “d**che, and Baldwin mocking Brunetti’s involvement with the 50 Shades franchise (via EW). The whole thing ended with Baldwin repeatedly demanding Brunetti produce documentation that would prove he knew Reed’s age, and Brunetti threatening a defamation lawsuit.
So… probably no chance here for a Mini’s Second Time, huh?
Don't even think about stealing Alec Baldwin's parking spot
For a while, all was well in Baldwin-land. There was success, with Baldwin winning his third Emmy for his SNL portrayal of Donald Trump. But even with all his victories, he just couldn’t resist defaulting to his old ways. It’s clockwork, it’s the limelight.
In the fall of 2018, Baldwin was once again arrested for allegedly punching someone. According to the The New York Times, while somebody else was saving a parking space for Baldwin, another car pulled into the spot. A fight reportedly ensued between Baldwin and the spot thief, which resulted in the latter with “an injury to his jaw” that required hospitalization. Baldwin was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment.
At first, Baldwin pleaded not guilty, according to ABC News. His statement to the arresting officers was: “He claimed my spot. I did push him.” However, the reported victim claimed that Baldwin “[struck him] across the left side of [his] face with [a] closed right hand, resulting in pain to [his] face.” Baldwin eventually worked out a deal that allowed him plead guilty only to harassment. The assault charge was dropped, and he was ordered to pay a small fine and attend a one-day anger management course as a result.
Getting stern with Baldwin
So, what did Alec Baldwin learn in his anger management course? In 2019, he sat down with Howard Stern to discuss everything. Giving the former shock jock the inside scoop on the parking spot showdown, Baldwin calmly explained that it was his neighbor who was attempting to hold the coveted New York curbside real estate for Baldwin’s wife when the other driver “aggressively [took] the parking space.” He said that wasn’t “the end of the world,” but he “thought he was going to get close to hitting [his] wife and [his] son.” Baldwin continued, “I just felt what he did was impolite, bordering on dangerous.” The Drunk Parents star also claimed that thanks to the plethora of paparazzi around, camera footage proved that “nobody punched anybody,” and that was the reason his “case was knocked down to harassment.”
When asked about his experience with anger management, Baldwin said that compared to some of the other participants, who were “going nuts” relaying their own moments of uncontrollable rage, he practically came off like a zen master. “When you go to anger management, you realize you’re not that angry,” Baldwin said he realized.
Pretty wise words, right? But the question of whether or not he has truly learned his lesson still lays on the table like a pair of fallen dice. Has Baldwin defeated his anger once and for all? Something tells us the paparazzi would probably also be wise to still maintain a safe distance.
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