Alec Baldwin and Michael Douglas on What Glengarry Glen Ross and Wall Street Mean Now

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 24 2011 11:58 AM

Alec Baldwin and Michael Douglas talk Glengarry and Wall Street

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Alec Baldwin at Lincoln Center in September.

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

The first episode of Alec Baldwin’s podcast, Here’s the Thing, went live this morning. Baldwin establishes a very public-radio tone in his intro (no surprise there, of course), saying the show will “be about taking great conversations to unexpected places.”

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David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog. Follow him on Twitter.

His first guest is Michael Douglas. The conversation’s most interesting (if not necessarily most unexpected) moment may be when Baldwin compares his famous portrayal of Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross to Douglas’s signature role, Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street:

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Alec Baldwin: The world is so different now. I’ve got people coming up to me all the time quoting some of the most corrosive lines from Glengarry Glen Ross. They think it’s good to talk about the kind of thuggishness of the sales industry—when I say, you know, “coffee is for closers,” and you say “greed is good.” Do you think in our lifetime that that line has changed, “greed is good,” where people really believe it’s true?

Michael Douglas: Well, the affirmation that I got from that villain—

Baldwin: From that community!

Douglas: From that community. If I get one more drunken guy from the Street saying “Hey, man, greed is good! You’re the man! You’re why I got into this business.” Hey, I was the villain.

Baldwin: I’ve got people walking up to me drunk in lobbies of hotels and they’re going, “Come do that speech! I’m in sales, baby!” And I’m sitting there going, “You don’t get it, man. This is like Arthur Miller. We’re trying to wake you up.” But they’re like... no, they don’t get it.

Douglas: No. They love the accoutrements. And you spoke well.

The whole conversation is worth listening to. After Douglas talks about his difficulties trying to cast Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (he produced the film), Baldwin tells him about playing Nurse Ratched himself in “a gender-reversed production” of the play put on at “Strasberg, the acting school.” “All the inmates were females and I was Nurse Ratched as a man,” he explains. “Ah, that’s a great idea,” Douglas says. Tina Fey, are you listening?