Up Close and Personal with Adam Baldwin

June 29th, 2006 by Jencala , Category : News

Adam Baldwin as JayneWhether you’ve seen him play Jayne Cobb in Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”, Animal Mother in “Full Metal Jacket”, Ricky Linderman in “My Bodyguard” or seen him in one of the 80+ roles he’s played over the last 25 years, you know who Adam Baldwin is.   Having been a fan of his for many years, I jumped at the chance to attend Adventure Con in Knoxville, Tennessee this past weekend to finally meet Adam in person.  I have to admit I was nervous and worried about making a fool of myself because he is my favorite actor, but those fears were quickly alleviated as Adam is not only more unbelievably handsome in person, but also one of the most down-to-earth and funniest people I have ever met.  He immediately put me at ease and my two friends, CSteinme and Thymewarp, who had already met him before, were quick to tell me “I told you so”. 

At a muscular 6’4,  Adam can seem quite imposing and is probably one of the reasons why he has been cast in many tough-guy roles, but his real-life persona reveals a heart of gold.  He was friendly and kind to every fan that stood in the long lines to get his autograph and after hearing reports from the staff of the convention, he was just as nice to them and didn’t exhibit any of the star ego associated with too many of today’s celebrities.  After a long day of signing autographs and greeting fans, he graciously sat down with us for a few beers and a candid interview.

JenCala:  You’re in the upcoming horror movie, “The Thirst”, playing a vampire.  Tell me about your role in it.

Adam Baldwin: Yeah, Lenny the vampire.  I’m the Jayne with bloody teeth in “The Thirst”.  You know,  it was really just a quickie.  It was offered to me as sort of this fun role to play and it turned out pretty well.  I’ve only seen the trailer.  I think it doesn’t take itself too seriously as I don’t think horror movies should.  It’s a cartoon really…it’s fun.  I think movies tend to get into trouble when they start taking themselves or their story line too seriously and then  they come across as arrogant.

JC:  I’ve seen the previews for the new series you have coming up called “Day Break”.  Tell me about your role in that.

AB: I play Chad Shelton. He’s an internal affairs investigator for the LAPD.  [I’m]  Taye Diggs’ characters’… I don’t’ want to say nemesis, he’s not his nemesis.  He’s  his ex-partner who’s investigating him and his ex-wife is now Taye’s girlfriend and so there’s  some conflict there.  It gets a little complicated.  Jeff Bell, who was on Angel, he just called me a couple of days ago and told me the script for episode 2 was coming next week too, so I’m excited about that.  It’s a high concept police drama with elements of “Memento”, “Groundhog Day”, and I would say the tone of “X-files” without the aliens, without the supernatural.  You have to suspend some disbelief because it keeps repeating;  there’s a big conspiracy going on and Taye has to figure out why these people are trying to frame him for murder and it’s a puzzle…and hopefully the audience will be drawn to it each week to try to figure out the puzzle.

JC: How do you think the format is going to work…Adam Baldwin Signs and Autograph

AB:  Terribly.  (Laughs) No, I’m kidding. 

JC:  (Laughing) If he’s [Taye Diggs’ character] reliving the same day over and over again,  will each episode be a new day ?

AB: The idea is that you examine one day for the season… well, I don’t want to get too far out in front. The thumbnail sketch is that you have one day you examine, unlike “24”, it’s not going to go chronologically, you won’t go episode one is hour one, episode two is hour two.  It won’t be that.  It will be this day and  how the events of hours 4-7…if they don’t follow the same pattern as the hours 4-7 from the day before will change hours 8-12.  So, you can pick and choose each episode.  You can examine the whole day, you can examine 3 hours from that day, you can examine 20 minutes and extend it to the 43 minutes of the hour program. So, they have a lot of latitude on whose character they decide to focus on in the ensemble cast.  There are 6 main characters and lots of guest actors in recurring roles.  Mitch Pileggi from the “X-files” is there,  a guy named Clayton Rohner, a great character actor, he’s in there. So, they have a lot of different options,  and it’s still in the early goings so, I’m not sure what the writers are going to suss out for us all.  It’s uh, it’ll be a…

JC:  Smash hit?

AB: (Laughing) Compelling hopefully.

JC:  It looks great in the previews.

AB: Yeah, it’s very well shot and Rob Bowman who directs a lot of “X-files” [is directing].  The tone of it is great;  the cinematographer is a guy named Bill Roe [and] he did the last couple of seasons of “X-files”…it looks great and …good actors, they hired a lot of really good people, and  ABC is [the] top of the line network right now.  They’re kicking butt.

JC:  You seem to do a lot of science fiction/fantasy genre roles.  Do you feel drawn to those parts or do you feel typecast?

AB: It’s just I go where the money is.  I’m a practical guy.  (Laughs) No,  I’ve been very blessed that I’ve fortunately been involved in cool sci-fi projects.  I’ve been involved in some really, really, really, really crappy ones, (under breath)  “Star Quest II”.   Don’t watch that. Please?

JC:  Too late!

AB:  It’s the worst movie ever made, isn’t it?  It really is. “Star Quest II” is the worst movie ever made.  It’s almost as bad, or worse than, uh, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”.  (Laughs) Not even close.  Ours is far worse.  At least that one’s funny.  No, it sucks.  No, but on the upside (Laughs) I’ve been in “X-files”  and  “Independence Day” and…what was that thing?

JC:  “Firefly”?

AB:  Firefly?  Butterfly?   Mosquito?  Oh, I love that Mosquito!  Did you see Mosquito? (Fan-made version of “Firefly”)

JC:  That was hilarious!

AB:  I love it. I‘ve just been fortunate to be tapped for some cool things. You know, I was watching “Alien” at a revival house, I guess it was about a month ago;  I didn’t realize that I was playing the Yaphet Kotto character!  (Laughs) I was unknowingly stealing Yaphet Kotto’s character from “Alien” in Jayne. I didn’t know it! I thought I was doing Warren Oates.  (Laughs) I’m watching it going…wait a minute, Yaphet Kotto, that’s Jayne! And wait… Tom  Skerritt… that’s Mal!  And there’s Kaylee… and that’s …there was no Inara. That’s why “Alien” [wasn’t] so good;  because there’s no Inara!  But, uh, Ripley, is …Zoe… “Firefly” is completely derivative…Joss Whedon is a thief!

JC:  Don’t forget.  Joss wrote one of the “Alien” movies.

AB:  Well, no wonder people were completely bored with “Firefly”, they’d seen it before!  They’d completely seen it all before! Ugh, no wonder he [Joss] was so like…You know, he kept looking at me funny when I was saying,  “You know Warren Oates or Eli Wallach”  [and Joss would say], “No dude,  you idiot, he doesn’t even know he’s Yaphet Kotto…what a moron! He’s perfect for the role!”

JC: Now that you’ve brought up “Firefly”…

AB:  Yes?

JC:  What do you think of a possible future for more “Firefly” or “Serenity”?  And I remind you, we don’t want to hear anything negative.

AB:  I think it’s in Joss’ court at this point, and whatever he decides to do, we’ll do.

JC:  Do you think there’s any future to it?

AB:  Frankly?

JC:  Be honest.

AB:  No.  No, it’s over.  Well, again, I can’t say definitively.  I said, strictly in my opinion.  I mean, I’ve got another job, everybody else has moved on…we’re getting older.  “Firefly” was started in 2002, it’s now 2006, we couldn’t start another movie until 2008.  It’s getting kind of hard.  Wash is dead, Book is dead…

JC:  But this is Joss.  He brings everybody back! (Laughs)

AB: Well, again, deferring to Joss’ better judgment (aside) I’m NOT friggin’ Yaphet Kotto! (Laughs) I’m Eli Wallach, damn it!  Deferring to Joss’ quote unquote better judgment… love you Joss, people think you’re God, you’re not! (Laughs)  I don’t know…I don’t know, it doesn’t look promising.

JC:  Would you do it if he asked you?

AB:  If he calls me after this interview, I’d be surprised!  (Laughs) But, yeah I’d jump at it.

JC:  You’ve been posting on the “Firefly” board for years.  Most actors shy away from posting on the internet.  What keeps you coming back?

AB:  I think it’s more important to examine why other actors fear posting on other boards. It’s really that they’re insecure about what they think, so they have to read other people’s feelings until they can decide what to say.  I don’t do that.  I just call Tim Minear and ask , “What should I say?”  (Laughs)

JC:  And what does Tim say?

AB:  He says,  “Adam you’re an idiot for posting on those boards. Shut up!”  (Laughs)

JC:  You seem to genuinely like and care for your fans.  Have you ever had any kind of scary or psycho fan or scary incident?

AB:  Have I ever had any crazy scary psycho incidents… besides tonight?  I mean…(Laughs)

JC:  Present company excluded!

AB:  No, the wonderful thing about “Firefly” and “Serenity” has been the genuine love of the show and the project and the way that people have cared about our struggle and we were all a part of that and we all fell victim to it and sort of survived it and moved on from it as best we can, and we regret the decisions that were made.  Or, the fact that we didn’t…basically we needed 3 million more people to find the show and they didn’t find it, and we could’ve stayed on the air, but they didn’t find it and that’s the practicality of it.

JC:  So no psycho fans?

AB:  Well, it’s not really my place to delve into the psyches of people…

JC:  So no one has ever done anything crazy or that scared you?

AB:  No. Not yet!  No, and I hope they don’t and I hope they don’t take me seriously enough to think that I’m important enough to do something crazy.  I’m just a stupid actor.

JC:  You’ve been in the industry for over 25 years.  Who are your acting role models or mentors?

AB:  Not too many mentors except for my acting coaches, a guy named Roy London, who was a great acting coach, who passed away 10 years ago, maybe 12 now.  He was probably my mentor as far as acting goes.  He taught me that it’s important to try to win every beat, every scene. That’s probably my main pet peeve when I watch actors; the ones who win scenes are the ones who are playing the quote unquote positive beat in that they try to get the other actor to do what they want them to do.  If you play that, you can win a scene, you can win a beat.  The ones who don’t do that fall into the trap of negativity and it becomes uninteresting.  The fascinating thing for me when actors…when you have 2 actors or 3 actors in a scene who are all doing the same thing trying to win each beat, they’re playing the positive to win;  then you have this conflict, this confrontational dynamic of each character on every line, every sentence, every beat, every moment trying to win and that’s what humans do and that’s  why good acting is interesting to watch.  Now, when you delve into scenes between Nathan and Summer, it delves into the negative, and it’s less interesting. (Laughs)   Uh, I mean, Jane, and uh, I mean, John and Frank,  other actors…uh, you’re going to edit this right?  (Laughs)

JC:  Maybe. (Laughing)

AB: It’s all Summer’s fault. Or Pip’s!  As far as my idols, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen. Guys like that.  Warren Oates.

JC:  I’ve heard you say you grew up on westerns.  What are your favorites?

AB:  I’d say, my top, it’s hard to say one favorite one, but my favorite five would probably be “The Wild Bunch”, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “Red River” with John Wayne and a little movie that people aren’t too familiar with called “Culpepper Cattle Company”.  It just was so realistic to me when I was a kid.  It’s kind of a hard movie to find, but it’s gritty and it’s about these guys who are on a cattle ride with these rustlers, and it just shows the west…how tough it was, realistically. It wasn’t very romanticized, it was just gritty and dirty and gross. Oh,  and “The Unforgiven” is also a classic.

JC:  My last question is a little bit on the personal side.  You can choose to answer it or not.

AB:  No. (Laughs)

JC:  A lot of fans have wanted to know for years how you got that scar on your cheek.  Would you mind telling us?

AB:  I got it in a knife fight in prison. (Laughs)  Nah, I was like 3 years old and I was riding on my tricycle.  My dad was building this dog run on the side of the house and he had this delivery of gravel that he was going to put in the dog run so that he could pick up the poop more easily,  so he was wheel barrowing the gravel from the delivery point of the driveway around the other side of the house to the dog run and smoothing it out from there and he left the wheelbarrow on its side kind of at the sidewalk.  I was riding around on my trike , my little trike, going (in childlike voice) “Hey dad, look at me, my little blue trike,! Hey look at me, I’m 3 ½ and I’m riding a trike!”, and I hit the little curb edge where it drops off into the grass and I tipped over right at the point where the uh, the wheelbarrow was tipped over and the axle of the wheel had this screw sticking out, and so I went ya-boom!  Right on the screw and it went right through my cheek.  So, I get up and I was kind of like rubber, you know, I’m 3 ½ so I’m made of rubber.  So, I get up and I had older brothers who used to beat me up and pound me,  so I was ok until I saw my mom on the porch going “AAAUGH”!  I looked at her and I went “AAAUGH  No”!!  So, they took me to the hospital to stitch me up.  What hurt more at the hospital was the syringe of Novocain they stuck in before they stitched me up that I will never forget…I was like “AAAUGH”!  But, I got a lot of ice cream and it was ok.

JC:  Anything you would like to say to your fans?  Do you have any parting words for them?

AB:  I’m still here, you can’t get rid of me that easy!   Uh, read more…please.  Form your own opinion, ignore Adam Baldwin!  Watch Day Break.  Support the troops.  It’s ok to be a geek…I’m one.  (Laughs)

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