Preparing for Roles with Stephen Baldwin
Stephen Baldwin is the youngest of the “Baldwin Brothers.” While the paths for Alec, Daniel, William and Stephen have all been different, they all continue to garner much attention. Stephen starred in films like Bio-Dome and The Usual Suspects, but when he decided to follow the Lord, he turned down mainstream roles and stepped out in faith to be a part of projects that would reach people for Christ. We interviewed Baldwin earlier this year and talked to him about how he prepared for his performance as a thief on the cross and what it was like coming from a famous family.
Baldwin shares about preparing for “Heaven, How I Got Here: A Night with the Thief on the Cross,” a one-man performance.
“When you’re an actor and you are developing a character, you have a certain process that you go through. In this instance because I am a born-again Christian my sensibility about it is very different than that of a normal actor. I wouldn’t just go through my normal process, this was supernatural. This is about a guy hanging on a cross next to the Savior. You kind of have to think about a few more things as you develop this character you know what I mean? [Laughter] I kept praying, asking, ‘What is the one that I need to understand most about this character, at the core of who this man is?’ And what I felt the Holy Spirit say to me was, humility. At first that didn’t make sense. But as I continued in the process I realized that there was a radical arc of humility that this thief must have gone through to come to the pace of revelations where he can say, ‘Jesus, remember me in Your kingdom.’ [Luke 23:42, paraphrased]. For the thief, there was a supernatural transformation that occurs on the cross. Because again, this was a guy who had no experience or understanding of who Jesus was really. And yet still the thief on the cross gets the opportunity to receive salvation. Humility was the one thing I really felt I needed to connect with. As an audience member, you many not even realize that the process the thief is going through is humility, you may just think he’s just crying and upset. But he’s having this revelation of humility which inevitably leads to salvation. I think that’s powerful!”
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:8-10
Baldwin opens up about he and his brothers all ended up becoming actors and eventually a famous family.
“My dad was a school teacher and my mom was a homemaker. My brothers and I getting into the film business is really much more of a fluke than anything else. We were just a blue-collar family of a bunch of dumb jocks pretty much. We played sports, chased girls and did all the stuff you’re normally supposed to do. Alec went to the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, New York University [NYU] and also worked as a waiter at Studio 54. A producer said, ‘Oh, hey my friend’s casting this film and you should go see him.’ It was kind of the luck that started it. But once my brother Alec started to succeed, the rest of us were kind of like, ‘Well, wait a second if he could then we might as well give it a try.’ Alec Baldwin when we were growing up wasn’t such a fancy guy to the rest of us, he was just our brother [Laughter]…[For me] from elementary school to high school I had been doing community theater and I was a singer. I was the one that had always been demonstrating that potential. Then my brother in his first year of college decided that he wanted to pursue this professionally. Even though my brothers and I had been playing around with this thing we never took it seriously, like for a career, until my brother Alec broke into the business. In a healthy way, there was this sibling competition about it. But it was very positive.”
Be humble. Whenever we experience success whether as a student, athlete or even in our profession, it is easy to become prideful. While it is okay to take pride in our work, God wants us to be humble. One practical way is to pray and ask God to give you his perspective on the situation. Ask Him to remind you that the gifts and abilities you have are from Him. Take time this week to pray and ask God how he wants you to use your talents to glorify Him.
Encourage one another. Whether it is a sibling, friend, teammate or co-worker it is easy to become competitive. We begin by comparing ourselves to one another and that often leads to criticizing or putting others down. Instead, look for ways to build up those around you with your words. It can be a simple note or you might even share with them over coffee the qualities you see in them that inspire you. If you hear people criticizing or making fun of another person, take the lead and flip the conversation around by sharing positive things that the person does.
Use your platform. God has placed each of us in different groups to be a light for Him. It could be a theater group, soccer club, or our place of employment. Take time this week to pray and ask God how he wants to use you to reach those around you. It could be leading a Bible study with the other believers at your work or doing an outreach with your teammates. Ask Him to give you the strength and boldness to follow through on the things He lays on your heart and mind.
To read our entire interview with Stephen Baldwin, click here.