Sunday, August 16, 2015

This photo challenges everything I thought I knew about 'Beetlejuice'

Winona Ryder and Alec Baldwin on the set of Beetlejuice.

This is somehow the same guy.
I was under the impression -- mistaken, it now seems -- that Beetlejuice was made before Alec Baldwin had achieved maximum Alec Baldwin-ness. He was still in a larval or pupal stage then, I thought. He'd mainly done soap operas at that point in his career, though he was starting to get some tasty supporting roles in movies, usually playing arrogant jerks and philanderers. Miami Blues, the movie I thought of as his true breakthrough, was still two years away. But obviously, my longstanding beliefs about Mr. Baldwin were totally false. He was always Alec Baldwin. He was born Alec Baldwin. He was probably already practicing his Glengarry Glen Ross monologue in the womb so that he could tell his mother that "epidurals are for closers" when she was in labor with him. And still they had him playing a small town nerd in a Tim Burton movie! It was a role which must have demanded the near-total suppression of his own personality, like a lion impersonating a lamb.

Once he removed the dorky glasses of his Beetlejuice character -- meek, model-building rookie ghost Adam Maitland -- he instantly transformed into his true self. That's all it took. It's the Superman/Clark Kent phenomenon in real life. If Alec was not in the running for Superman Returns, then he damned well should have been. This guy could go from zero to Jack Ryan in one second. The same haircut which looks hopelessly dorky on Adam Maitland looks positively badass on Alec Baldwin. A lot of it is in the eyes and the smirk. Man, can this guy smirk. And speaking of eyes, check out how Winona Ryder -- then at the peak of her powers as America's Mall Goth Sweetheart -- is gazing at Mr. Baldwin in total fangirl adoration. She's the moth to his flame. What drew her in? The stubble? The chest hair? Or was it just the general aura?

Gaze at the photo and wonder, dear readers.