William Baldwin followed older brother Alec into acting profession

On movies

June 12, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

William Baldwin has only done four films, and if you're under the impression that he has done lots more, it is only because of the Baldwin name.

There are a few Baldwin boys lighting up the big screen these days, Alec, William and Stephen.

Alec (''The Marrying man'') was first, and William gives his brother some credit for his choice of profession. ''I supposed he paved the way,'' he said. ''I was going to go to law school. At the time, I was more cerebral, then half-way through college, I decided I wanted to become an actor. I don't know if I would have gone that way if Alec weren't my brother. I watched his career. He helped me with my plan of attack.''

Acting, then, is non-cerebral?

''Oh, no, not at all,'' said Baldwin. ''I'm more fulfilled now. Acting is creative, intellectual and challenging. It is also exciting and can be lucrative. On a higher level, it is incredibly stimulating and gratifying.''

Baldwin, 28, is currently appearing in ''Backdraft,'' in which he and Kurt Russell, as brothers, are Chicago firefighters.

Robert De Niro is also in the cast, but Baldwin was apparently not that impressed. Asked if he found it stimulating to work with De Niro, he said, ''No, no more than working with others. If I work with people who are good, I work better, but working with De Niro was no different from working with all the others I've worked with.''

One of the reporters at a recent press conference asked if it wasn't a De Niro set?

''No,'' said Baldwin, ''it was not. It was a Ron Howard set. He directed. He creates an environment. There is no room for star types or prima donnas on a Ron Howard set.''

Is there such a thing as nepotism in Hollywood?

''If there is, it is up and down but never across,'' said Baldwin. ''Alec has never made a conscious effort to get me a job. I could imagine that if Alec were too old for a role or costs too much and my name comes across someone's desk, they might be interested in me, but nothing consciously has been done on my behalf. Of course, if I weren't named Baldwin, I don't know if I would be doing as well as I am.''

He doesn't believe he and his brother will ever be rivals. ''We will never be in direct conflict or competition as actors,'' he said. ''I won't allow that to become a destructive force. And Alec is older. We're not really competing.''

Next?

''I'm planning to do a film based on the experiences of Machine Gun Kelly,'' he said.

*

Brad Pitt, who plays the young drifter picked up by ''Thelma and Louise'' in the film of that same title, comes on like James Dean, but you don't want to tell him that. ''People say that when they see me in this film but not when they see me in others,'' he said. ''That bothers me, the comparison.''

He's just going to have to put up with it, though. It's going to be with him for a long time, and he could be around for a long time.

Pitt, 25, was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma and attended the University of Missouri where he majored in journalism. Five years ago, he moved to Los Angeles. He told his parents he was going to study advertising, but instead he studied acting.

''I always liked movies, and when I got to California . . . [I] got an agent. Six months later, I got a job in a TV series,'' he said. ''Now, my parents paper the house with the stories that are printed about me.''

He got to do ''Thelma and Louise'' when William Baldwin backed out. ''He had to do 'Backdraft,' so I read for them, once by myself and once with Geena Davis,'' he said.

Tell him he is lucky, and he says it hasn't been that hard. ''Thousands of guys have it, but they're too busy looking for it, and they're all trying to do Mickey Rourke, James Dean or Marlon Brando,'' he said. ''Yes, I consider myself lucky, but I also consider myself stable. There are so many good actors who just can't seem to get their stuff together.''

Most of the films Pitt has done until now have had very little exposure. ''One was a film I did in Yugoslavia,'' he said. ''I have never seen it.''

''Thelma and Louise'' is his first big film. ''It's my first big break,'' he said. ''It will allow me to step up to the next level.''

His next movie is ''Cool World,'' directed by Ralph Bakshi, the man who did ''Fritz the Cat'' and a few more controversial features, some animated, some partly animated. ''It's hard to explain it,'' said Pitt. ''Kim Basinger is in it.''

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