NEW YORK — In a recent episode of "30 Rock," Alec Baldwin's character, Jack Donaghy, went through a kind of midlife crises, splitting into four alternate versions of his self.
One, "sideways Jack," chastised Donaghy for allowing an intended six-month stop in TV to turn into five years, leaving him stalled and no longer a "shark."
"You don't even know what a shark is anymore!" exclaimed the alternate Donaghy.
The episode played artfully with Baldwin's own career ambitions, which didn't include sitcom stardom until Tina Fey's "30 Rock" came along.
Now, though, Baldwin is contemplating his exit from "30 Rock." He has one season left on his contract with NBC and has said he will leave at that point.
"That's pretty much all I think about right now," said Baldwin in a recent interview. "To finish the show, I'm going to do this year then start thinking about what I want to do next. It's the big question. It's been a great experience, and I've loved doing the show. It changed my life. I'll never have it this good again, I know that. But I know that I've got to do something different, try something different. I don't know what that's going to be."
This summer, Baldwin will be shooting Woody Allen's next film, to be shot in Rome, as well as the big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical "Rock of Ages" and the indie drama "Hick."
Though Baldwin, 53, worked primarily in movies before "30 Rock" and has since worked in such films as 2009's "It's Complicated," he says he won't necessarily return to that path.
"When I go back into the world to go to work, I don't know how likely I would be to (make movies). This is something I can't answer now," says Baldwin. "But if I want to do something after that, I don't know if that would be another series on television — I doubt I would do that. Just to go to work, maybe I would do films again. But it's difficult because films are hard.
"I look at romantic comedies and independent films, quirky comedies, and I think I don't really appreciate them that much. And all of this is as a result of doing '30 Rock,' because I've really been completely tainted by the people I work with because they're so funny. ... It's tough to find something that's really, really well written."
Baldwin has an interest in politics and regularly blogs for the Huffington Post. But he hasn't fun for office himself because he notes that the top New York State offices are safe Democratic seats that he wouldn't want to challenge.
"It would be easier for me to run if I moved — California or Connecticut or somewhere. And I'm not prepared to do that right now," he says.
Baldwin has a year to figure out his new direction. In the meantime, he's happy to recover from another season of "30 Rock."