Sean Connery Left Alec Baldwin Shaken On The Hunt For Red October Set

Alec Baldwin just sort of happened all at once. For a long time, there were movies without Baldwin, and then suddenly, in 1988, there were five. He was an unfaithful slime of a husband in Jonathan Demme's "Married to the Mob," an unfaithful slime of a boyfriend in Mike Nichols "Working Girl," a creepy slime of a best friend in John Hughes' "She's Having a Baby," an ambitious slime of a radio executive in Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio" and an absolute gem of a dead man in Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice."

Baldwin was immediately pegged as a character actor with leading man potential, and got his chance to prove his worth in 1990 as Jack Ryan in John McTiernan's adaptation of Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October." Ryan is a brilliant CIA analyst who correctly deduces that legendary Soviet submarine captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) has absconded with his difficult-to-detect nuclear vessel as a means of defecting to the United States. If Baldwin was going to be a bankable movie star, he had to nail this role. This meant not getting blown off the screen by Connery, a startlingly handsome man and a ferociously talented actor to boot.

Connery plays the diva

Connery had every advantage heading into McTiernan's movie. Ramius is the showier role, and he'd been cast to get butts in theater seats. Baldwin, on the other hand, was a mere two years into his film acting career. He was the wonkish protagonist of the movie, and he'd been charged with holding the audience's interest whenever Connery wasn't on screen.

Complicating matters was Connery's mood. From day one, he made it clear to everyone on set that this was his movie. According to Cinephilia & Beyond's Tim Pelan, the former James Bond repeatedly shouted at the assistant director, which threw the fear of god into the younger actors playing his charges. One day, he berated his makeup artist and stormed off set. Baldwin observed all of this, and believed he was done for. Fortunately, McTiernan had his back. 

Baldwin recalled to Entertainment Weekly (via Cinephilia & Beyond), "I just said to myself, 'I am so screwed. I am invisible in this movie now. This guy looks like $10 million just stacked end to end. No one's even going to see me in this movie.'" 

Thankfully, McTiernan made it work, and as EW put it, "Once he started to work with him, he realized that Sean was very generous to other actors and that Sean respected him. Alec was fine — and there was never a problem with his hair for the rest of the shoot."

The first, and still best, Jack Ryan

Though "The Hunt for Red October" is unquestionably a showcase for Sean Connery, Baldwin gives a positively magnetic performance as Ryan. It helps that he's every bit as handsome as his older co-star, but the most vital element of his portrayal is the way he projects intelligence. We can always see the wheels turning in Ryan's head, and it's utterly compelling to watch the man think. Baldwin was a perfect Ryan. It's a shame Paramount essentially forced him out of the role prior to the production of the first Ryan sequel, "Patriot Games."

Baldwin's career might've looked a lot different had he stayed with the series. He took a lot of risks over the next decade, favoring unlikable/asocial characters in films like "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Malice" and "The Edge." He got two more cracks as a franchise lead in "The Shadow" and "Heaven's Prisoners," but both films stiffed at the box office. Ultimately, he found himself in a character actor groove, which suited him well. Meanwhile, there have been four Jack Ryans since Baldwin, and none of them can hold a candle to his performance in "The Hunt for Red October."