Alec Baldwin Quits "Public Life," Blasts Shia LaBeouf, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow and More

30 Rock star plans to leave New York City for L.A., reveals he "never wanted" to be on MSNBC and tells New York he's not "homophobic"

By Zach Johnson Feb 24, 2014 1:00 PMTags
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Alec Baldwin is going out with a bang.

In a 5,284-word essay for New York magazine, as told to Joe Hagan, the 30 Rock actor said "goodbye to public life" and announced plans to move to California. "I've lived this for 30 years, I'm done with it."

"I loathe and despise the media in a way I did not think possible," Baldwin wrote in the Feb. 24 issue. "This is the last time I'm going to talk about my personal life in an American publication ever again."

Baldwin, 55, then detailed his "s--tty" 2013. "I find myself bitter, defensive, and more misanthropic than I care to admit. And I'm trying to understand what happened, how an altercation on the street, in which I was accused—wrongly—of using a gay slur, could have cascaded like this," he wrote. "There's been a shift in my life. And it's caused me to step back and say, 'This is happening for a reason.'"

Acknowledging his reputation as a hothead, Baldwin referenced an incident in November when, by his own account, a TMZ photographer "ambushed me as I was putting my family in a car, and I chased him down the block and said, 'C---sucking mother---er' or whatever (when I have some volatile interaction with these people, I don't pull out a pen and take notes on what I said)." Calling celebrity website TMZ's founder a "cretinous barnacle on the press," Baldwin asked his readers, "Do people really, really believe that, when I shouted at that guy, I called him a 'f----t' on-camera? Do you honestly believe I would give someone like TMZ's Harvey Levin, of all people, another club to beat me with?"

He later wrote, "I get angry, and I've said all sorts of things in anger, but I'd never use that word."

The Long Island native dismissed the idea that he's anti-gay and then offered evidence to the contrary.

"Am I a homophobe? Look, I work in show business. I am awash in gay people, as colleagues and as friends. I'm doing Rock of Ages one day, making out with Russell Brand. Soon after that, I'm advocating with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Cynthia Nixon for marriage equality. I'm officiating at a gay friend's wedding," he wrote. "I'm not a homophobic person at all. But this is how the world now sees me."

VIDEO: Ireland Baldwin gushes over her baby sister Carmen

Steve Granitz/, Danny Martindale/WireImage

Baldwin also recalled being "labeled a homophobic bigot by Andrew Sullivan, Anderson Cooper, and others in the Gay Department of Justice." He also referenced an incident in which his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, was accused of tweeting during James Gandolfini's funeral. Baldwin lashed out at the Daily Mail writer and admitted to calling him a "toxic little queen." Alleging that Cooper is "the self-appointed Jack Valenti of gay media culture," Baldwin wrote, "I didn't feel bad about the incident. He lied about my wife."

The actor acknowledged that "there's an impression that I'm someone who seeks to have violent confrontations with people. I don't. Do I regret screaming at some guy who practically clipped my kid in the head with the lens of a camera? Yeah, I probably do, because it's only caused me problems.

As his outbursts made national news, Baldwin's new talk show, Up Late, was floundering in the ratings. "My goal was always to take a talk show to the network," he said. "I never wanted to be on MSNBC."

At one point, Baldwin wrote, it was suggested that he interview Parks and Recreation star Rob Lowe, who happened to have an upcoming meeting in the building, as a guest. Baldwin, however, declined.

(After Lowe read the article, the 49-year-old actor tweeted, "Mightta done the show, if it helped.")

Baldwin was suspended after the TMZ incident. He was later fired, which the host claimed came "out of nowhere." The final episode of Up Late, however, averaged just 395,000 viewers and 101,000 adults in the 25-54 demo, down 40 percent from the show's 10 p.m. premiere on Oct. 11.

Luca Teuchmann/WireImage

In his essay, Baldwin accused fellow MSNBC host Rachel Maddow of spearheading his firing and called her "a phony who doesn't have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air." The 40-year-old political commentator issued a response via BuzzFeed's Kate Aurhtur Sunday, tweeting, "I have never met Mr. Baldwin, either on camera or off-camera. I wish him all the best."

The twice-married father of two also opens up about his issues with Shia LaBeouf, with whom he briefly worked on the Broadway play Orphans. LaBeouf, 27, was fired and replaced by Ben Foster.

LaBeouf "seems to carry with him, to put it mildly, a jailhouse mentality wherever he goes," Baldwin wrote. "I'd heard from other people that he was potentially very difficult to work with, but I always ignore that because people say the same thing about me. When he showed up, he seemed like a lot of young actors today—scattered, as he was coming from making six movies in a row or whatever."

Baldwin added, "He had that card, that card you get when you make films that make a lot of money that gives you a certain kind of entitlement. I think he was surprised that it didn't work in the theater."

Baldwin hopes to start over in L.A. after moving to the Big Apple in 1979.

"I did not have a happy family life a few years ago. I was divorced [from Kim Basinger, 60] and I was very alienated from my daughter [Ireland Baldwin, 18] and I was out there cutting every ribbon and running around New York hosting events for different causes to supplant my loss, because I didn't have a family to go home to. Now I don't want to be Mr. Show Business anymore. I want the same thing everybody else wants. I want a happy home, and for the first time in my adult life, I have one," he wrote. "I love my wife more than anything in the world and I love my child [Carmen, 6 months, with wife Hilaria] more than anything else in the world and I don't want that to change in any way."

Baldwin now relates to LaBeouf's aversion to being a celebrity. "Shia LaBeouf went to a film screening recently and he wore a bag over his head and the bag says I AM NOT FAMOUS—ANYMORE," the Golden Globe winner wrote. "And there was truly a part of me that felt sorry for him, oddly enough."

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