Alec Baldwin

He's thickened around the waist and his hair has grayed, yet the boyish charm remains. As 58-year-old Jake in Nancy Meyers' It's Complicated, which opens on Friday, Alec Baldwin (for the record: 51 years of age) epitomizes the ladies' man gone only slightly to seed. He exudes a husky masculinity, his face cracking wide open with joy when he unexpectedly beds his ex-wife Jane (Meryl Streep). It's not so much a devilish triumph as it is a recognition that his wildest dreams have come true: he can't believe how lucky he is.

Streep is the star but Baldwin is the motor that drives the story -- even if he is more of a burr under the saddle. It's a sterling performance, fully deserving of awards consideration, and a potent reminder that, given the right role and the right framework, Alec Baldwin's complicated charm easily commands the spotlight. His comedic chops have been amply demonstrated in recent years as studio exec Jack Donaghy on TV's 30 Rock, and television is where I first spotted him in the engrossing military mystery Dress Gray in 1986. Ramrod straight, growly voice, and oozing lethal charm, he was clearly going places.

1. Malice (1993)

Seven years later, he gave his signature performance as Dr. Jed Hill, a surgeon who enters the lives of happily married young couple Nicole Kidman and Bill Pullman, and rends their world apart. Is Dr. Hill arrogant, supremely confident, or something more malevolent? "You ask me if I have a God complex. Let me tell you something: I am God." For just a moment, you believe.

categories Cinematical