I met Alec Baldwin in 2003 in the Hamptons. I was starring in a show called The Boy Friend at The Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor and he and his daughter came to see a matinee.
It was a small theater and I could basically see the entire audience from the stage. He was one of many celebrities that had come to see the show. The production was high on people's list of "what to see" that summer. Why? Because it was the great Dame Julie Andrews directorial debut! I was in the hot seat because I was playing the role that Ms. Andrews had played when she made her Broadway debut in 1950.
So needless say, there was a lot of pressure on me to be glorious in the role.
I felt the collective arms folded/"show me" when people came to see the show, and celebrities just made it more nerve racking. But I just took a deep breath and did what I always do, my best and hoped no one criticized me too harshly for what I lacked. I was not Julie Andrews, and frankly no one is. So when I knew a celebrity was in the audience I just tried to fuzz out all the faces, forget and do my best.
The matinee performance ended and I quickly got dressed and entered the lobby. That day I was wearing my "patch pants" (some silly bell bottom jeans that I had sewed my patch collection onto). Suddenly I heard a little voice of a girl say "My Mommy was in that movie!" I turned around and this girl was crouched down pointing at a patch on my pants. The patch she was pointing to was a Batman Logo. Then, I looked at the little girls face and I saw a faint glimpse of the "Mommy" she was talking about.....Kim Basinger.
Batman, Kim Basinger....Vickie Vale!
Boy, I remember as a child wanting to BE Vickie Vale. Then I realized who was pointing to my patch pants, the daughter of two huge movie stars! I remained calm and squatted down to her level and said "Your Mommy was in that movie? Batman? Cool!"
And then I hear a deep and rough voice say
"Ireland. Sweetheart. Leave Ms. Patterson alone"
And there he was, Alec Baldwin walking towards me, parenting his young daughter.
"Hello, Mr Baldwin" I said shyly
"Oh no, please call me Alec." He said very casually "Nice to meet you"
It was surreal and awesome. He was a pure gentleman. He complimented me on my performance, shook my hand, told me I would do great things, and said he hoped to see me again. I was just dumbfounded. I had met movie stars before, but not in such a casual setting and never with anyone calling me Ms. Patterson. Throwing any respect and equality my way?
He was a class act.
I honestly thought I would never see him again. Then month's later, through mutual entertainment business friends, Alec Baldwin asked me out to lunch. Nothing romantic, he said he just wanted to get to know me. Now, I was hesitant, I was newly married at the time, and honestly, I knew Alec Baldwin was single. But my husband at the time didn't seem to care if I went out with one of the sexiest movie stars on the planet.
So you know what? I said I would. It was just lunch and why did it have to be romantic? Alec saw me in a show, had a production company, had connections, and maybe he did want to ask me about my career and help me out?
Naive? Maybe. But I said yes.
I met him at his apartment on Central Park West. He had just returned from a trip and was running late. It was the summer and I remember he was sweating a lot when I met him. It was just us. No entorouge, no assistant.
We casually walked down the side street, talking and looking for a place to eat. No one really stopped us on the street to ask him for a picture or an autograph. This was his neighborhood so he was suggesting places. I casually said, whatever is good around here, is good for me. It felt very casual and comfortable. Nothing romantic or strange. I do remember he asked me how old I was. If you know me, I never feel I need to lie, so I just told him I was 29. I remember he laughed at my candid answer. He also sighed deeply. "Oh! To be 29 again!" And he started telling me about his life at 29. And not his movie star life, his life.
It was fascinating because just like anything. We were getting to know each other.
He suggested a place that looked closed, but he walked in anyway. Immediately a waiter was preparing to set a table and he stopped upon seeing who was in his restaurant.
"You guys open yet?" he said
"Oh no Mr Baldwin, but give me a minute and we can set something up for you if you'd like?"
This guy was scrambling. I've never seen anyone just jump to do whatever he wanted. Alec was gracious and said "No, no its ok. Don't worry about it. I love this place. We will come back another time".
I honestly found Alec fascinating, I didn't know him well, but I mean I found his celebrity fascinating. I have always admired him as an actor, but at this point I hadn't been in public with a celebrity and seen the impact it has on people. Maybe it was his knowing fame and the way he walked into a place knowing he would be recognized. It wasn't in a cocky way, but in a way of knowing that he has significance in this world, he has made an impact, people pay attention to him. He was a movie star. I only knew a miniscule of a fraction of that impact, having starred on Broadway. But being around him, I can see why people are intoxicated by fame and money. It makes you important in the eyes of others.
And honestly, we all want to be seen, to be important. And at that moment, I was important to Mr Alec Baldwin. Enough for him to ask me to lunch, alone and ask me about myself.
Looking back on that day, I don't imagine Alec Baldwin really remembers it. It was so many years ago. I mean, it probably wasn't a day that impacted his life or made him feel important. But it made me feel important, valued, like a colleague.
We sat down in a place that was small but quaint. I remember we shared a stuffed artichoke appetizer. We talked about life in Los Angeles vs New York. How to break into Television (I hadn't done any TV work at the time), what Pilot Season was like, working in movies, fame and just life. It was about an hour of talking back and forth before we left the restaurant and got a cab.
Never once did I feel like it was romantic. Like it was uncomfortable or forced. And I kept thinking, why can't a man who's a movie star ask a woman to lunch and just connect? Maybe I'm naive for thinking this, and I can't speak for Alec Baldwin, but he never made it seem like he was trying to date me. Or that he wanted to. It was just lunch and it was awesome.
I also have never been the type of actress, or woman, to knowingly use my looks or sexuality to get what I want. I have never used sex to get a part or get "discovered". I know many stories of people who have. For some it works out, they get where they want to be. But I know, I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I did that. If I chose to be with someone romantically because of where they could get me in this business. Or what they could do for me, money wise, fame wise, any of it. I couldn't stomach it. And don't you think that the other person, the celebrity or wealthy man knows they are being used? I mean it's all so deep seeded and shady, so inauthentic and shallow. I would rather sit here in my comfy small apartment with my beautiful babies and the love of my life authentically living life....... than rich, famous and spiritually gutted because I slept my way into every opportunity, and was with someone because of where they could get me in life.
All this being said, I took my lunch and my conversations with Alec Baldwin at face value. I didn't read into, or expect anything from it. And maybe that's why it was so comfortable? I now know celebrities have to be on guard, and honestly check their gut and see why people are contacting them.
I believe they always think that people want something out of them. And I imagine, its a somewhat sad existence to not be able to trust anyone's motives? Almost every celebrity I have known, I have to emphasize that I'm not friends with them or contacting them to "get something" out of them. Its sad, but I sometimes feel I have to say it. Most of them tell me thank you. Because they have people clamoring at them all the time. From the past and the present.
But that day in New York City, Alec Baldwin and I had lunch and got to know each other.
We kept in touch via email for a few years after that, but not much. I would invite him to shows I did, watch my TV Debut, and would congratulate him if he booked something huge, like when he got the role of a lifetime and became Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock.
After that, I didn't hear from him and I didn't contact him. He was off into the stratosphere of fame yet again and I quietly celebrated him from afar, just like I do now.
To Mr Baldwin. Thank you so much for that lunch and for treating this young actress with admiration, curiosity, giving solid advice and being a pure class act.
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years
Copyright 2017 M Patterson