Commenting on Alec Baldwin's portrayal of Jimmy Swaggart during filming of "Great Balls of Fire," Dennis Quaid said he was "uplifted" by a particular Baldwin/Swaggart speech.
But Baldwin, who seems to be in every good film showing at movie theaters lately, said the role of Jerry Lee Lewis' evangelist cousin was tough. He doesn't think he could come close to playing Jimmy Swaggart as Jimmy Swaggart."He's much more seamless and he has this beautiful voice," said Baldwin, 30. By "seamless," Baldwin means Swaggart's whole presentation.
"I watched his tapes, and there really was a pattern to it. There's a rhythm - an A-B-C-D, A-B-C-D. He's funny, but he gets very quiet. He gets very intense and very passionate, and then he's got to get the revivalistic, thumping, jumping down. He does a little jig now and then that we tried to get into this.
"There's a physicality to him. Then there're quotations. He's scholarly one minute, and then he's weeping and passionate the next. And then he's rousing and orchestrating the crowd.
Baldwin didn't get to meet Swaggart during the filming of the movie, which wrapped up recently in Memphis. But Baldwin believes he's gotten to know quite a bit about Swaggart.
"I'm not judging him for this when I say this - it sounds judgmental - but I think he was jealous of Jerry Lee. They were a musical family. I think all along he wanted to be a musician. I think he would have loved to have been in Jerry Lee's shoes."
Swaggart ended up being a showman, anyway, Baldwin believes. "I think he went and did the next best thing he could do. I think he tried to match it. At the same time he put a layer of religious cheese on top."
Baldwin made four movies last year, including "Beetlejuice," "Married to the Mob" and "Talk Radio," and viewers can now see him on screen as Melanie Griffith's nasty boyfriend in "Working Girl." He recently completed Jonathan Demme's "Miami Blues."
Baldwin laughed when he was referred to as a "character leading man." Although he stands out in all his movie roles, some people don't realize he's the same actor who appeared in "Married to the Mob" and "Beetlejuice."
"I had a guy say to me, `How do you feel? You're sort of like the next Paul Henreid, doing supporting roles. Do you think you're gonna be able to make a living doing these supporting roles for the rest of your career?' "
Baldwin realizes many people think an actor would rather play the lead in a piece of garbage than be a character actor in a supporting role.
"I don't want to get lost in the background, and I definitely want to have an impact. But if I wanted to do some things that had the most impact, I would have done other things than I've been doing."
Baldwin, a native of Long Island, was into everything, including athletics, when he was young. "I didn't know what I wanted to do. And that's the great thing about this business. You can be whatever you want to be for 12 weeks at a time.
"I can be Jimmy Swaggart for two weeks. And then I can be a psychotic murderer for 10 weeks and then a Mafia hit man who's married to Michelle Pfeiffer for 10 weeks. That was a nice job."