site.btaUPDATED William Baldwin: "People Are So Horrible but I Love People"
In his capacity as head of the jury for the 9th CineLibri international book and movie festival, US actor, screenwriter, and producer William Baldwin said in a BTA interview that the programme of the festival is very good and the quality of films range between “excellent and very excellent”. He also dwelled on how he transitioned from political science to acting, and looked into how cinema audiences in the US and Europe differ. On a personal note, he said that people are terrible and prove that every day, but he loves them nonetheless.
Following is a takeaway from the BTA interview.
The CineLibri films
There were two tiers of films. Excellent and very excellent. So there there was a very good level of competition. There are three films that could have won the grand prize, and there were another two that were a very, very close second. They were outstanding. They were excellent on all levels of production, production design, direction, costumes, casting, acting, script, cinematography, lighting. Some of it was themes that you've seen in films before. Some of it was stuff that was like, Wow! That was beautiful! Part of why it was beautiful was because it was so original. It was so different.
Favorite film of all time
That would be 10 films. You could never choose one that is the greatest, but if I were to have to choose one, there's a film that Marlon Brando did in the 1950s, On the Waterfront, with this phenomenal cast and it was directed by Elia Kazan. And it's called. It's a little bit of a different experience for me because I grew up around this world, the town that I grew up in. So this movie about labor unions and organized crime and blue collar workers that worked down with the longshoreman in New York Harbor and on the Jersey waterfront set in that world, is something that really resonates with me because that's my father's generation and my grandfather's generation. It was their life. So it was very powerful and very meaningful to me.
European and American film audiences
Americans are sort of like heat seeking missiles. They are looking for the hottest thing right now and they have no memory about what happened five years ago, 10 years ago or five 5 minutes ago. And I noticed that European fans have great appreciation for the life and body of your work. I will have more people here talking to me about films that I did. Talking about Northern Rescue that I produced for Netflix, talking about Gossip Girl, talking about Dirty Sexy Money. Those are all things I've done in the last 15 years. But they're also talking about Internal Affairs that I did in 1989.
The most unusual or interesting thing done in preparation for shooting a film
That is three films that I did. For Born on the 4th of July, I trained as a combat veteran in the jungle in the Philippines. And when I did Internal Affairs, I played an LAPD cop and I went on ride along with the LAPD and we were raiding crack houses. We were storming crack houses, and I had to go with them. I was like, no, I'll stay here in the car. I'll roll up the windows and I'll lock the doors. But they're like, No. Because if we go in the front door, they jump out the window and they see you sitting in the car and they have a gun. They can't tell that you're not a cop and you're sitting here in a cop car with no gun. So when we go in you, I'm here and you're here. So we did that for three weeks a month with the Chicago Fire Academy. We went to different locations with Ron Howard and we would rehearse at location and rehearse the scenes in it like 2 weeks, 3 weeks, a month, two months, depending on the location.
For Born on the 4th of July, we went into the jungle with all of the gear and a Vietnam veteran team to train us. And we went into the deep jungle and we built up a command post. And we used our entrenching tools and we dug a foxhole. And me and a partner would sleep in the foxhole. And during the day, we would go out and there were two different groups of actors, so we broke up into two different teams where we would do combat raids against each other, and we would go out into the jungle. And we were firing M16 with blanks. We were working with these weapons, we were training in the jungle for three weeks, living in a foxhole. We had machetes, pineapples from the jungle, an MRE, a military meal, ready to eat. I lost 15 pounds.
It was amazing. The training for Internal Affairs, for Backdraft, and for The 4th of July were all insane, I would say. Born on the 4th of July, it's hard to choose but to live in a hole in the ground in the jungle in the Philippines was quite an experience.
Studying political science
Political science has always been an interest of mine. I've never, ever taken an art class. I never took an acting class in high school or college. My father was a top political science and history professor. It was always something that was in my DNA. I gravitated towards it because it interested me. Also, I wrestled my whole life and I played baseball because I was good at it. And then when I thought I was going to law school, when I a second year of college, my brother left University, transferred to NYU, studied acting for a year. He got on a soap opera, we started watching him on television. Everybody thought that was a big deal. For holidays, I would come home to see my mother and my brother would say, Come into the city, let's hang out and I would go meet him with all of his showbiz friends. Some of them were famous and beautiful, and some of them were writers, directors, producers and they were all very, very interesting. Hollywood doesn't have the smartest people in the world, but they have people that are very, very smart. They absolutely have some of the most creative people, interesting, dynamic. Many are incredibly dynamic and interesting, but really really broken and wounded and dysfunctional. So I was drawn to the people and I never knew anything about it. I never knew if I could do it. And then basically I saw my brother on TV and I was like, if he could do it. I could do it. So I got accepted to law school and I deferred for one year. I put it off for one year. I moved to New York. I put up my first scene in my first acting class. It was electricity. It was electric. And I was just like, I'm going to do another class, and I'm going to do another class.
But what my brother has achieved and I have not, he was nominated for the Oscar. He was nominated for the Tony. He was nominated - I don't even know anymore how many Emmys, 10 Emmys? He was nominated and won four or five Golden Globes, and he won the SAG, the Screen Actors Guild Award. I think seven or eight years in a row. Julianna Margulies did that. Jimmy Gandolfini did that. And my brother, the only three in history that ever did that.
There are things that are going on in American American education that are very, very wrong. Years ago, during Reagan, they started cutting lots of arts funding, so the arts have suffered. When you go to Germany, they USD 40 per individual tax payer to promote national arts programs and in America, they spend USD 0.40. It is much more of a priority to promote and preserve art and culture in Europe than it is in America. I would say spend more on the arts and spend less on defense. We are making weapons for other countries that we don't need, they need. It's just big business.
I am a person who loves...
People – I am a person who loves people. People are so horrible, as we see demonstrating every day. But I have faith, I believe, I love. I love people so.