For all his charms and talent, Alec Baldwin has sometimes proved to be a divisive figure, due in large part to his periodic angry outbursts and combative nature. But most of his battles were mere blips on the radar… until he left a vitriolic voicemail for his daughter Ireland on April 22, 2007.
At the time, Baldwin was in the middle of a contentious custody and visitation battle with his ex-wife, actress Kim Basinger, when he called Ireland — then 11 years old — as scheduled for a father-daughter chat. Everything exploded when Ireland didn’t pick up her phone, sending Baldwin on a tirade.
“Once again, I have made an ass of myself trying to get to a phone,” he vented in his message. “You have insulted me for the last time.” Baldwin also went in on Basinger, telling his daughter, “I don’t give a damn that you’re 12 years old or 11 years old, or a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn’t care about what you do.”
Baldwin also told Ireland she made him “feel like s***” and he was going to “straighten [her] ass out,” but of course, the most memorable line from his ragefest came when he called Ireland a “rude, thoughtless little pig.”
He also screamed at her, “This crap you pull on me with this goddamn phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother, and you do it to me constantly over and over again.”
The fallout was swift, with the full, unedited voicemail making its way to TMZ for the whole world to hear. Though Basinger has claimed that she wasn’t the culprit behind the leak, it seemed unlikely that anyone else could’ve given it to TMZ. After hearing the tape, Los Angeles County Superior Court commissioner Maren Nelson temporarily suspended Baldwin’s visitation rights until a new hearing could be scheduled that May.
The media ate it up in a frenzy, repeatedly recounting and analyzing the voicemail in intricate detail across websites, in newsmagazine shows, and in print publications. For his part, Baldwin’s lawyer decried the leak, while Basinger’s publicist said simply, “The voicemail speaks for itself.” Later, friends of Baldwin’s told TMZ that he’d apologized to Ireland and chalked up his outburst to the issues he had with Basinger, who had been allegedly sabotaging his relationship with his daughter for six years.
Baldwin’s publicist also released a statement to Extra, saying, “In the best interest of the child, Alec will do what the mother is pathologically incapable of doing … keeping his mouth shut and obeying the court order. The mother and her lawyer leaked this sealed material in violation of a court order. Although Alec acknowledges that he should have used different language in parenting his child, everyone who knows him privately knows what he has been put through for the past six years.”
It’s been 10 years since Baldwin left that voicemail for Ireland, and he still gets flak about it — even as he’s gotten more raw, honest, and apologetic about the events that led up to the event, with many of those stories appearing in his recently released memoir, Nevertheless.
“Divorce itself is child abuse. … I think the worst thing one can do is put a child in the middle of these battles. That is what I did. And I am reminded of it and I am sorry for it every day,” he wrote. “If the goal of my ex [L.A. Confidential star Kim Basinger] and her lawyers was to damage or ruin my relationship with my daughter, then I certainly gave them the ammunition to do that with. … In all honesty, my relationship with my daughter was permanently harmed by that episode. In that sense, my ex-wife and her lawyers succeeded.”
Baldwin, 59, admitted that the voicemail created what he called a “permanent break” in his relationship with Ireland and told George Stephanopoulos in a Good Morning America interview that he’s never lived it down, either personally or publicly.
“It’s thrown in your face every day. … There are people who admonish me or attack me and use that as a constant spearhead to do that,” Baldwin said, adding, “It’s a scab that never heals ’cause it’s being picked at all the time by other people. My daughter, that’s hurt her in a permanent way.”
For her part, 21-year-old Ireland, now a model, has made peace with the event and chosen to move on. As she told Page Six in 2012, “The only problem with that voicemail was that people made it out to be a way bigger deal than it was. He’s said stuff like that before just because he’s frustrated. For me it was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ I called him back, I was like, ‘Sorry, Dad, I didn’t have my phone.’ That was it.”
She’s even had a little fun with this piece of gossip lore. In 2015, she posted a picture on Instagram of her reading a book with her famous father. The book’s title? If I Were a Pig. Ireland’s caption read, “If I were a pig … I would be rude and thoughtless, of course!”
A post shared by Ireland Basinger-Baldwin (@irelandbasingerbaldwin) on Jul 26, 2015 at 11:36am PDT
Meanwhile, Baldwin has made great strides in rehabilitating his public persona. He’s recounted a lot of his life traumas in his aforementioned memoir, including sharing stories of his drug overdose. He married his wife, Hilaria, a fitness and wellness expert, in 2012, and they have three kids together — Carmen, Rafael, and Leonardo.
A post shared by Hilaria Thomas Baldwin (@hilariabaldwin) on Apr 16, 2017 at 8:30am PDT
He’s also received high praise from fans (and scorn from some critics) for his spot-on impression of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.
But most of all, he’s owned up to and grown from that voicemail incident 10 years ago. And maybe as more years go by, it’ll be a distant memory for everyone? Nah.
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