Baldwin, 58, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair‘s April issue, on newsstands Thursday. In an adaption from his forthcoming memoir, Nevertheless, the actor reflects on his Saturday Night Live history — and the very first time he was introduced to his future 30 Rock costar Fey.
“When I first met Tina Fey — beautiful and brunette, smart and funny, by turns smug and diffident and completely uninterested in me or anything I had to say — I had the same reaction that I’m sure many men and women have: I fell in love,” writes Baldwin.
At the time, Fey, 46, was the head writer at SNL and Baldwin was set to host that week’s show. The writers and producers were gathered in Lorne Michaels‘ office, and Baldwin turned to talent coordinator Marci Klein to ask if Fey was single.
“She pointed to a man sitting along the wall. Or maybe he was standing?” quips Baldwin. “This was Jeff Richmond, Tina’s husband. Jeff is diminutive. Tina describes him as ‘travel-size.’ “
“When I saw him, I thought, What’s she doing with him?’ ” he continues. “With his spools of curly brown hair and oversize eyes, Jeff resembles a Margaret Keane painting.”
All jokes aside, Baldwin soon developed a great deal of respect for Richmond, 56, an Emmy-winning producer and composer who worked with Fey on 30 Rock and currently works with her on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
“When I ended up working with the two of them years later, on 30 Rock, of which Tina was writer, producer and star, I changed that to ‘What’s he doing with her?’ ” says Baldwin. “Jeff, who was the talented composer and music supervisor on 30 Rock, is as loose and outgoing as Tina is cautious and dry.”
Baldwin goes on to praise Fey for her work (and “enormous level of responsibility”) on the beloved NBC comedy, in which the two played Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy for seven seasons, from 2006 to 2013.
“The roles of writer, producer and star are a lot to handle. Over the life of the show, she was honored for all of them,” says Baldwin. “But Tina will tell you she is a writer at heart. Beyond dressing up for red carpets, hosting awards shows, or starring in films, Tina, I believe, is most comfortable in a room full of clever people doing what she does so well.”
“Our characters, Liz and Jack, never consummated their relationship,” he continues. “There was, in place of that, a genuine respect, fondness and, ultimately, love for a trusted and irreplaceable colleague. For Jack, the only thing better than good sex was a good hire. Over the years, I had bitched and moaned, as only actors can, about being tied to a contract for a show that would never be my own.”
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Baldwin explains that after season 5, he wanted to quit — but came back, “had a great time, and was ready to sign for five more years.”
“A wise decision was made to shoot a tight 13 episodes and go out head high. As we shot the series finale, on a December night in Lower Manhattan, my building rush of nostalgia for the show hit its peak,” he recalls. “Freezing my ass off on a boat floating in a marina in Battery Park City, Jack groped his way toward telling Liz he loved her.”
“That night was tough,” he adds. “The best job I ever had, that I will ever have, was over.”
Nevertheless: A Memoir hits stands April 4.