September 9, 2008 / 9:08 PM / 10 years ago

Alec Baldwin puts politics on hold for "Lymelife"

TORONTO (Reuters) - If actor Alec Baldwin ever ran for public office, he says he might have to think about changing his name to something more ethnic.

Actor Alec Baldwin of the film "LymeLife" poses during the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival September 8, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

“I’m going to change my name into a Muslim-sounding name,” he jokes.

More seriously, Baldwin, in Toronto this week for his new movie “Lymelife,” said the U.S. government has long been run by men with an Anglo-Saxon heritage and to prove his point, he rattled the names of off recent U.S. presidents such as Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

The actor, who in the past has talked openly about his political aspirations, said U.S. voters seem ready for fresh ideas this election year, but he’s not sure how he fits in.

“I hope (Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama) wins or it’s close because if it’s close, that says something. A growing number of Americans are ready for the nontraditional. Where I would fit into that, I don’t know,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin, 50, is outspoken on issues such as the environment, gun control and campaign finance reform, and he fueled speculation about a political career earlier this year when he told a “60 Minutes” interviewer that holding public office is “something I might do one day.”

Still, Baldwin said that to run a serious campaign, he’d need the backing of a major political party or movement.

“I think there are many that would support that idea — that would believe in whatever principles you espouse — but just as often they would mock that idea until a nominating committee of a major party backs you,” he said.

Baldwin added that the notion of former actor Arnold Schwarzenegger being Governor of California was a “silly idea” until he was endorsed by the Republican party.


For now, however, Baldwin is focused on acting. In recent years he has earned wide critical acclaim for his comedic role as network executive Jack Donaghy on TV’s “30 Rock.”

He also found time to work on low-budget “Lymelife,” which debuted Monday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The movie follows two families in Long Island during a 1970s outbreak of deadly Lyme disease.

Baldwin portrays Mickey, a philandering man who dreams of becoming a millionaire by developing a real estate subdivision in Long Island. Mickey struggles being a good father to his two sons, played by real-life brothers Rory and Kieran Culkin, and he also has difficulties in a rocky marriage.

The boys know Mickey cheats on their mom, but they also love their dad and can see their mom has her own issues, too.

The story explores family relationships of all types — between fathers and sons, husband and wife, and siblings — and it blends elements of both drama and comedy.

It took years to fund the movie, but Baldwin and the others stuck by its filmmaker Derick Martini, in part, because of what they saw as a very honest and real story.

“In independent filmmaking, the money is elusive even under the best of times economically,” Baldwin said.

Martini gained a solid reputation as an up-and-coming filmmaker at the Toronto festival in 1999 with his “Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish,” which he co-wrote, produced and acted in. “Lymelife” has yet to find a distributor. “Lymelife” is his first time in the director’s chair of a feature film.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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