Speaking to Anna Sale for an episode of the WNYC podcast "Death, Sex & Money," Alec Baldwin is frank about the fact that he didn't get into acting out of love. He got into the field to succeed and to him, as a young man, success meant something simple: money.
Baldwin had no interest in being a starving artist. From the beginning, he tells Sale, he thought, "I just want to succeed at whatever I do." That meant he had to see a return on his acting career pretty quickly and, as it happens, he did.
AB: ... Like if I went into acting for like a year or two, and I was still waiting tables, I probably wouldn't have done it. I wasn't gonna walk around for like a decade, you know, with a copy of 'Balm in Gilead' wedged in my pocket and like, you know, hanging out dressed in all black clothes at McSorley's all night long.
AS: You weren't gonna suffer for the art.
AB: I wasn't doing that.
As early as college, a professor told him, "It's interesting that you're not talking about any dreams you have. You're just talking about how you're going to make it."
Gradually, though, his passion for his chosen field deepened, thanks in part to the guidance of a mentor. From him, Baldwin says, he learned to approach acting as a business of "one for me and one for you," meaning that you "embrace the commercial, embrace those opportunities, but then when you can, you run off and do these other things for your soul."