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

     March 13, 2011


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.”


Around The Web
  • David Kirkpatrick

    I am the man who apparently you belive ALec Baldwin despises. Here is my response:

    •!/colliderbrendan Brendan Bettinger

      I believe he despised you in the moment he wrote that blog post. But I am sympathetic to your side of the story, and tried to represent it with an update to the post.

    • sloan

      uhhhhhh i stopped reading when you got to bible verses. tool. plus jack donaghy rules!

    • The.Watcher

      I am sympathetic to your version because Mr. Baldwin has been known to be difficult on set, however, as he said, having parallel negotiations is illegal, never mind sneaky and underhanded. Mr. Ford did a great job, though, so I’m not really complaining.

    • leviathanus

      im not one of the witch hunters hungry for blood and any reason to satiate it. i also have no right to judge you based on what alec baldwin says ( true or not).

      but 90% of what you wrote is bible scripture and for my money comfirms a lot of what alec baldwin says. Like you said: humans will take what they can…based on this; why didnt you claim baldwin was lying? cause u cant thats why.

      while i think alec baldwin is a great actor, hes not judge jury and executioner. he has a right to vent if he wants to and although it was an interesting read; its nothing people didnt already know about the reality of movie producing or TV producing.

    • Daniel

      That left me speechless… Is everyone in hollywood nuts?


        A friend of mine has been courting several production companies and has seen this crazyness first hand. It’s as if they are all Jr. High school girls playing puberty politics. “Oh all the other girls want THAT boy so I want him too….so THEY can’t have him”.
        Once THAT has been achieved, that boy gets dropped because….well….”I only wanted him to keep him away from THEM”
        Goal accomplished.
        This is what it’s like trying to get a property turned into something in Hollywood.
        Yes they are all nuts.

  • J.J.

    I always thought Baldwin played the Jack Ryan character the best anf THFRO was the best of the Ryan adaptations. It would have been very interesting to see where the character and films would have gone if he had kept the part.

    • Curtis

      Agree 100%. Baldwin IS Jack Ryan. He owned the part. Patriot Games + Clear & Present Danger would have been far better films with Baldwin reprising the role and McTiernan behind the camera, IMO.

    • Rydog

      I second this!! Don’t get me wrong…I think Harrison Ford is amazing. But as a big fan of Clancy’s series I have ALWAYS felt Baldwin better represented who Jack Ryan was.

      Interesting that they are trying to reboot the franchise…Chris Pine tho??? Love him as Cpt. Kirk but Jack Ryan he ain’t. I guess Jake Gyllenhaal was booked!

  • Film buff

    Baldwin is an overweight over rated big time left wing liberal wacko!!

    • Clarkish

      And Chris Christie is an over weight over rated big time right wing conservative wacko, what’s your point?

      • gotroy22

        Christie is a right wing conservative wacko? BWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Maybe compared to left wing liberal wacko Alec Baldwin.He is an overweight and overrated RINO.

    • Merlin

      And film buff is not buff at all but a pasty face fan boy with a tiny little… bow tie!

  • Ryan

    It’s awesome to read this today. I only got 4 hours sleep last night because I drove to a midnight showing of “Red October” and Daylight Savings kicked in as the film ended. I had to wake up for work still though.

    I love that movie. I’m not a huge Baldwin fan but he was excellent as Ryan. As much as the Ford films are great, and Ford is Ford, I would have liked to see Baldwin continue. That way Red October would have had a stronger connection to the others. Even with James Earl Jones, it feels different

  • Matt

    IIRC Clancy himself favoured Baldwin for the role, despite their obvious political differences. It would’ve been interesting to see Baldwin carry the role, as Ford’s performance was simply another in the long line of Ford’s generic action heroes, a la Air Force 1, FireWall, etc…

  • TJ

    Chris Pine = Awesomeness. Very exciting news. On the other hand and not to take away from my previous statement anyone is better than Ben Afleck. Big Bird could do the role of Jack Ryan and it would be better than…Ben Afleck. Pauly Shore could do…ahhh you get the point.

  • Merlin

    Alec Baldwin was and is the best Jack Ryan of them all!

  • RoseMcB

    Hmmm… Nice attempt at the “hale good fellow, well met” routine. All chummy and “aww, it wasn’t really all that bad..”, but it’s disingenous, to say the least.

    For one thing, I happen to know that there was a LOT more too the selection of Ford over Baldwin than you are fessing up to, Mr. Kirkpatrick. A LOT more.

    Water under the bridge, maybe, but I still feel quite a bit of rancor when I think about how much more the franchise could have been and how much more I would have enjoyed “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present” if the REAL Jack Ryan had actually been in the films. I enjoyed Ford in other films, but he was, flatly, NOT JACK RYAN. Not even close. A horrible call on your part and the audience paid for it.

    In the end, I suppose it all worked out well enough, at least for Alec Baldwin. A difficult patch here and there, but he ultimately arrived at the place where he is able to do pretty much as he pleases and he can enjoy his work. Perhaps if Mr. Baldwin had continued in the Ryan role, he would have ended up a Tom Cruise kind of actor, bringing in the studio behemoth blockbuster year after year. I don’t think that would have satisfied him very much.

    All’s well that ends well, or so they tell me. You’re still not forgiven. I will need another 20 or so years to mull that over.

  • Bob

    As an individual who lost his business because of mr. Kirkpatrick and his colleagues. I have to say I totally relate to Mr. Baldwin. Where were your Christian values when you decided to not pay your bills, and let me and my company, and many others who you hired, go down the drain unpaid, David?

  • Alex–

    You gotta admit that the concept of a guy who acts and looks like Alec Baldwin becoming as Jack Ryan eventually president is science fiction. He’s like the non-evil version of Dick Cheney.

    America cries for boy toy wannabe cowboys like Chris Pine.

  • Richard of Norway

    Please delete this spam post (above mine)! I fucking hate spam.

  • KJ

    I didn’t know the books when The Hunt For Red October came out, but I know this: when Baldwin played Jack Ryan, it came across as a kind of flat, even supporting role (probably also due to the fact that Sean Connery ‘stole’ the entire movie). Harrison Ford however, gave Jack Ryan a likeable quality, which made me want to see more Jack Ryan movies and read some of Clancy’s books. Also, Anne Archer nailed her part, I think.

  • Ken Thornbury

    Although I am a right wing conservative and strongly disagree with Mr. Baldwin’s politics, I felt he was terrific in Hunt for Red October. I wish Baldwin would have done more Jack Ryan films. I read all of Tom Clancy’s books that followed Jack Ryan’s career and felt Baldwin was perfect for the character. I also liked Baldwin in Pearl Harbor.

  • Brett

    Alec Baldwin is THE man.

    Can anyone with pull get WB to release the Knots Landing episodes featuring Alec Baldwins work? His portrayal of the character Joshua Rush is livingv art. At the very least, it should be made available for prosperity.

  • Brett

    Sorry about that, I meant the work Alec did on Knots with Julie Harris, Lisa Hartman and Joan Van Ark should be released and ‘preserved’ for prosperity.

    • Tom Jones

      Posterity! Sorry, but you did it twice.

      • Brett

        Can’t believe I went in to correct the error and made the error again. Duh!; )

  • eknirb

    “Most thing in here do not react well to bulletsh.” LOL.

  • Tokeiihto

    Altough ‘The Hunt for Red October’ was a terrific movie, actually the best of the Tom Clancy adaptions, with all due respect to Mr. Baldwin, I really don’t think it was down to his performance as Ryan that the film turned out to be so good. First of all ‘Red October’ had an astounding cast (including Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn) lead by Sean Connery, who stole every scene he was in and actually dominated the film – especially obvious in the (few) sequences he and Badwin shared on screen. Furthermore the script was tight and focused – the plot not overly convoluted but raher easy to follow – and McTiernan’s direction crisp and action-packed.

    Baldwin’s interpration of Ryan was likeable but also a bit bland and not overly deep.

    On the other hand I would argue that Ford’s take on the character, especially in ‘Clear and Present Danger’ wasn’t that generic. There are certain mannerism also found in other Ford protagonists for sure, but it’s the little subtle differences that elevated his performance and made it so engaging. And Ford really more than convincingly portrayed all the different facets of the character (father, husband, teacher, government official, unwilling action hero) shown in the films* – thus carrying two features that were more complex and not as forward and action-orientated as ‘Red October’.

    *I don’t know about the “original” Ryan of Clancy’s books ’cause I never could be bothered to read them – for they’re notoriously right wing and conservative and allegedly paint a far more simplistic picture in regard to politics and ideology – so I’m only judging by the actual performances in the movies.

    • Alex-mansy

      Harrison Ford was good but as I said too vanilla. Alex Baldwin in the role would have been exciting and innovative not snore worthy. Then we had Ben Affleck play the role and now we got a teenager Chris Pine playing him. Next incarnation Justin Bieber just you wait.

      For a green intelligence analyst I thought Baldwin in Hunt was a good introduction to the character. It would have just been wrong if the greatest general in the Russian army was overpowered by some pen pusher.

  • Aged Cheddar

    The contrast between Alec Baldwin’s view, as expressed in his remarks, and David Kirkpatrick’s reaction, is striking. The egotist Baldwin, still filled with vitriol after many years, versus the Christian Kirkpatrick, who has matured and grown intellectually, expressing his understanding of both his and Baldwin’s flaws, admiration for Baldwin’s vast talent, and appreciation for the shortcomings that brought about their conflict.

    It seems perfectly clear that David Kirkpatrick is both mature and intelligent, while Alec Baldwin exhibits the child-like traits we have all come to know and expect of actors – no less intelligent and talented, but quite unable to cope with life’s events and consequences.

    For onlookers, Baldwin is the train wreck we just can’t look away from, while Kirkpatrick becomes the green shade wearing evil capitalist accountant we all love to hate. It is all nonsense, of course, and in the end amounts to nothing, with the possible exception of creating a wider audience for C. S. Lewis, whose words will always be with us, to shed light into the dark corners of our spirits.

  • Scared for Movies.

    I’m sure Kirkpatrick and all the other Hollywood bigwigs have never tried to rip anyone off or do illegal negotiations. That’s highly immoral and after all Hollywood is known for its morals…right. Aged Cheddar standing behind a Hollywood suit is interesting to say the least but if you dislike Alec it’s understandable but I believe that Hollywood is a business and business ethics are usually immoral.


    Baldwin is a very entertaining guy who also tends to suffer the character flaw that many creative people are afflicted with : “the world revolves around me” syndrome. If (good faith?) negotiations dragged on FOR ALMOST A YEAR then Kirkpatrick made the right call. As always, the Devil is in the details and we’ll never know exactly what was being squabbled over during the negotiations.
    On the flipside, Hollywood and it’s ilk (producers, studios etc.) is filled to the brim with self serving retards having the mentality of your average puberty addled thirteen year old. They are more concerned with playing follow the leader/making the competition look bad/having their shiny little butts kissed than they are in actually producing real films.

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  • Clancy Fan

    It has to be tough to create a pleasant experience when mixing studio and actor career objectives. Throw in attitude and ego and the result can be, and often is, down-right ugly – if not destructive.
    I agree with the common sentiment here – Alex Baldwin is/was the best Jack Ryan. I’m just now starting to read the Jack Ryan Jr. series and I still picture Baldwin playing out J.R.Sr.’s parts and now see C.Pine in the J.R.Jr. roll.

  • gotroy22

    Leave it to Hollyweird to put Bennifer, the man who managed to bungle playing Jack Ryan In The Sum of All Fears, into the Batman franchise.

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