Alec Baldwin Explains Why He Never Played Jack Ryan Again After THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER

     March 13, 2011

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In Moscow, Chris Pine will be the fourth actor to assume the role of Jack Ryan in just five movies.  He follows in the footsteps of Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger), and Alec Baldwin, who originated the role on screen in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October.  How did we get here?  Why wasn’t Baldwin awarded a Bond-style run of films?

Baldwin would have liked to return for at least one more Jack Ryan film, but the negotiations to facilitate that return became heated and eventually fell apart.  Baldwin revealed in a recent blog post just how things went down, including a few vicious words directed to the studio executive who made it (not) happen: David Kirkpatrick.  (A taste: “Kirkpatrick was a beady-eyed, untalented tool…”)  Details after the break:

In 1991, Baldwin was in talks with the studio to play Jack Ryan again.  Baldwin was traveling to Syracuse to visit his mother, recently diagnosed with cancer, when he received several calls from Hunt for Red October director John McTiernan that suggested urgency.  Baldwin wrote on his Huffington Post blog:the-hunt-for-red-october-blu-ray-cover

“On the phone, John [McTiernan] told me that during the period of the previous few months, he had been negotiating to do a film with a very famous movie star who had dropped out of his film days before so that he could go star in the sequels to The Hunt For Red October. John further told me that Paramount owed the actor a large sum of money for a greenlit film that fell apart prior to this, and pushing me aside would help to alleviate that debt and put someone with much greater strength at the box office than mine in the role. I sat there mildly stunned because not only was I in an active negotiation with Paramount, but for them to negotiate simultaneously with another actor was against the law.”

Baldwin politely declines to mention the movie star by name, but it must be Ford, right?  (On that note, what McTiernan film might Ford have dropped out of?  Over the next couple years, McTiernan directed Medicine Man and The Last Action Hero.  Or it could be a film that never made it out of development.  Hmm…)

Soon after he returned, Baldwin called Kirkpatrick, a man he clearly despises.  Baldwin writes:

“Kirkpatrick was a beady-eyed, untalented tool who had seemed like he was up to something throughout my sequel negotiation. Now, he became vividly clear. I had to decide if I would agree to an open-ended clause relating to dates for the first sequel and thus completely give up the chance to do one of the greatest dramas in the American theatre, or he would rescind my offer. They had the other guy all lined up, and they were looking for a way to gut me. I thought he wasn’t serious at first. Then, when I realized he was, I chose A Streetcar Named Desire.”

I couldn’t tell you how the role swapping affected the franchise, but the story proposes an interesting what-if scenario.  In the full piece, Baldwin relates his troubles to the contractual struggles of Conan O’Brien and Charlie Sheen over the last year.  From this perspective, Baldwin gleans this insight into studio politics:

“When executives at studios and networks move up to the highest ranks, they are given a book. The book is called How to Handle Actors. And one principle held dear in that book is that no actor is greater than the show itself when the show is a hit. And, in that regard, they are often right.”

david-paul-kirkpatrick-imageUpdate: Kirkpatrick posted a response to Baldwin’s claim on his blog, and was kind enough to link to it in the comments of this post so I would know it existed.  I don’t believe the two accounts are too contradictory — rather, they illustrate the perspective divide between actor and the executive during a contract negotiation.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Fundamentally, the reason that Alec Baldwin and  I ended our relationship over the character of the Jack Ryan franchise was an issue of trust. We did not trust one another to continue in the enterprise. The negotiations to continue as Jack Ryan had drawn out for almost a year and he was nervous over controls, as he was the man on camera and he had a right to be;  yet,  I had a responsibility, working for a publicly-traded company to keep the franchise alive…

Alec Baldwin withdrew from the project, Patriot Games, over an issue of script approval: I wanted him to approve a script and he refused.”

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