By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 14, 2011 at 2:58AM
Hint: It Was Probably Harrison Ford
In a column for the Huffington Post, Alec Baldwin turned what was supposed to be a piece telling Charlie Sheen to show some remorse and beg to get his job back on "Two And A Half Men," into a much more interesting story about how he lost out on the Jack Ryan franchise after "The Hunt For Red October."
Meant to illustrate the point that Hollywood is filled with scumbags, Baldwin recounts that he was in active negotiations with Paramount for "Patriot Games" only for the studio to illegally (he claims) put a deal together with another unnamed actor (likely Harrison Ford) because they owed him money and it was the only way to help offset some of that debt. We'll let Baldwin explain:
The run of events in 1991 went like this. John McTiernan, who directed The Hunt For Red October, called me repeatedly over a period of a few days and that got my attention because John was not someone who did that. I knew it must be something important. I had been traveling to Syracuse to see my mother who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had lost my dad in 1983 to lung cancer when he was fifty-five and the idea of being an orphan, technically speaking, at the age of 33 weighed heavily on me. It took a few rounds before John and I connected.
On the phone, John 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. My mother was about to have a double mastectomy. I asked John if he was sure about all of this and he said yes, he had talked with the famous actor directly who confirmed the story. All of this served to explain why the studio would not close my deal over what I thought were some relatively arbitrary issues surrounding the dates of production.
Baldwin then goes on to add that studio executive David Kirkpatrick -- whom he calls "a beady-eyed, untalented tool" (think you have it rough Chuck Lorre?) -- gave Baldwin an ultimatum: do the film (even though it had no set production dates which would force Baldwin to leave his calendar open) or go back to Broadway and do "A Streetcar Named Desire." Feeling he was in a no-win situation, Baldwin chose the latter and the rest is history. But Movieline came across Kirkpatrick's take on the matter on his blog and he says that Baldwin refused to give script approval and was "nervous" about the brewing franchise. He also starts bringing God into the mix for some reason:
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. The greatest myth of the Twenty First century is that people are good. We aren’t. We’re not morally neutral. I know that’s a terribly unpopular thing to say in the world today, but it happens to be true. The fundamental problem with learning how to reason through ethical solutions is that it doesn’t give you a mechanism to override your natural tendency to do what is wrong. This is what C.S. Lewis-whose writings including Mere Christianity, have had such a profound influence on my life says. It’s not inclusive or popular or in vogue , but the only way to get beyond ourselves is to let God take over. As John the Baptist said,” He becomes more as I become less” At the center of Christ’s teaching are only two fundamental laws: love God, love others.
Alec Baldwin withdrew from the project, Patriot Games, over an issue of script approval: I wanted him to approve a script and he refused. We amicably parted ways. But if we could have been in a place of goodness that the Lord resides, we would have gotten beyond our own egos to a place where men of honor stand. At the end of the day, the core of meeking is giving your strength and your status and your “stuff” over to higher purpose.
So, somewhere in all this is a lesson for Charlie Sheen but we're not sure what it is. Don't sign on for a Jack Ryan movie? Beware shady negotiations? Read C.S. Lewis? Who knows. At any rate, it's an interesting peek behind the curtain but you know what? Harrison Ford kind of ruled in "Patriot Games" and it's hard to imagine that Baldwin -- as good as he is -- would've been as memorable.