Kim Basinger – When she and Alec were in love, sort of

                                        July 2000     By Philip Berk

They’re Hollywood’s most volatile couple.

And possibly the one best suited to each other.

They met ten years ago during the making of The Marrying Man.

It was love at first sight followed by fireworks both on and off the set.  

Three years later they tied to knot, and in l995 became the proud parents of Ireland, their only child.

Of course they’re Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin.

Alec was always the private one.

When asked about Kim, he’d say, “You mean Kim, blonde hair? nice body? blue eyes? I don’t know her, sorry. I know that she’s multi talented, dynamic personality. She’s a Southern mad woman, many, many things. Who she’s engaged to, who she spends her time with, I really cannot say.”

That was before they were married.

Two years ago he told me, “I’m as madly in love with my wife today as I was when I first met her, and having the baby has only changed things for the better.”

At her press conference for I Dreamed of Africa, her current film, she’s as glamorous as ever and nothing like the disheveled conservationist she plays in the film 

Kim has always been open about her life and marriage.

In a recent article in Vanity fair she argues publicly with her husband. He wants to know when she’ll be returning from a business trip to L.A. She refuses to answer him. He walks away in frustration… 

Was she upset when she read that?

“It didn’t bother me.”

Is she really, as the article suggests, a gypsy who refuses to settle down? (They own an estate in Long Island which was purchased four years ago but is yet to be furnished.)

Will she ever settle down in one place?

“I think there will always be boxes in my home, much to my husband’s dislike. Alec’s dream is to live on Long Island. He’s a Long Island boy. I never had a dream of where I belong. I always said I would find it someday. People who know me say, ‘But Kim that’s ridiculous. You’ve owned your house in California for twenty years. You love that nesting place’ And I do. But in my creative time, my dream time I’m very much a gypsy. In real time I plant myself somewhere, but there will always be boxes that never get unpacked.”

Is Alec part of her real time or dream time?

“Love is a battleground. It’s one day at a time. For us, I hope it’s forever, and I’m determined to do my part. But in our business it’s a challenge. I’m very loyal, and he’s very, very loyal,  and we took a vow.  We treat that with utmost respect, and when things go wrong in our relationship, which they do with every couple, we don’t just run out on it.  Even if we fight for one day, one or the other  will call and say ‘Listen,’ and the other person will say ‘Let’s just take a deep breath. We’ll work this out. We’ll find a way.’”

So basically they have a wonderful relationship.

“My husband is the most moral and ethical man I’ve ever met. He really does care, and he’s a gifted orator. God gave him that gift, but it can also be a curse.That little mouth of his can be a curse. It can get him into very big trouble. He has not learned to contain that little boy in him. So that’s where we knock heads.”

But obviously they share common goals?

“Basically we have the same goals in life. We’re very similar. But how we get to that goal is very different, so that’s where the conflict comes in. It’s not a constant thing. We have great joy in our life. Our daughter, our relationship, the things we admire in each other. I’m his number one fan!”

Do they have similar beliefs?

“Everybody’s journey is different. I remember before my daughter Ireland was born, Alec and I decided we wanted to parachute: jump out of an airplane. So we made a date, but then we found out I was pregnant, so I decided we shouldn’t jump, and he agreed. One day he did an interview with Esquire, and when it was published I found out he had done it without me. I couldn’t believe it. In that way, he’s like a kid. The same with our daughter. I’m the disciplinarian in the family, so we’ve been in a lot of tiffs over that.”

Like what?

“In the four years since Ireland was born, I’ve only spent three night away from her. Alec, on the other hand, is so involved in so many organizations as a spokesperson, he hasn’t spent as much time with her. She and I have a very tight relationship, but I’m also the disciplinarian. She knows when I’m her pal and when I’m her mother. With Alec, they are both four. So I try to help him with this problem, but he won’t take any advise. He’s very obstinate, and that’s where we butt heads. And yet, he left for Canada today to do a movie, a one day shoot — he’s coming back tomorrow — and while I was getting dressed this morning, he must have called me seven times from the plane to say, ‘I love you. Now you have a really good day.’ So people’s relations are what they are. We basically have a very great friendship.” 

Not if you believe what the tabloids write. 

What was the biggest lie they  printed about them.

“That during the making of The Marrying Man,  Alec and I were having sex in the trailer and that the trailer was rocking all the time. Let me share this with you. My husband is a very private man — even with me. He’s never asked me to have sex in a trailer. And as for my demanding Evian to wash my hair, when Disney wanted us on the set by six o’clock in the morning, knowing I’d have to wash my hair in the trailer, I wanted to be sure the tap water wasn’t polluted.”

Wherever Kim went, trouble followed.

Eight years ago, she innocently agreed to appear in an independent movie called Boxing Helena.

When she changed her mind and wanted out, she was slapped with a lawsuit which resulted in a multimillion dollar judgment against her. As a result she was forced to declare bankruptcy, but ultimately the decision was reversed and she survived — but at great emotional cost.

How did she live through that?

“I truly believe it was my sense of humor, my faith in God, and having Alec and the people that love me, there for me. I got an education that I will use for the rest of my life.”

Since then her life has been in turnaround.

She was given the coveted female lead in LA Confidential and ended up winning both a Golden Globe and the Academy Award as best supporting actress.

I Dreamed of Africa offers her another opportunity to show her metal. 

After winning the Oscar, was she been besieged with offers?

“It’s been three years, and I’ve done only two movies I Dreamed of Africa and Bless the Child.”

So it wasn’t a cachet for her?

“It’s changed Hollywood’s perception of me, but I’ve always been isolated from the business.”

How did she get the role in I Dreamed of Africa?

“I was asked to read the book and meet with the producer. Immediately he told me I was doing the role, so I didn’t have much choice. But after reading the book, I knew this was a role I was meant to play.”

Filming in Africa must have been a dream come true?

“I had been there before on a photo shoot, but this was a much different place and it was at a different time of my life. We went as a family and that was extraordinary.”

The real Kuki Gallmann, when you meet her, is as striking as Kim, but being  Italian, she speaks with a thick accent.

Why didn’t she?

“It was a creative choice. All the actors in the film had different accents, so we decided to use what is called standard Julliard speech. We all speak American.”

Even French heart throb Vincent Perez who plays her husband.

What was it like playing with him?

“I’ve worked with some extraordinary people, but I’d have to say he’s one of the two most giving actors I’ve ever worked with. When you have chemistry with another actor, it feels so good, and Vincent and I had that. On top of which, he has no ego, and he’s extremely intelligent. It was fun working with somebody who was really smart and who could talk about any subject.” 

Why was she reluctant to meet the real Kuki Gallmann?

“I felt I would have been under a lot of different kinds of pressure, and I didn’t need that. Even Kuki was surprised that I didn’t want to meet her. But I  felt the book itself was so self-explanatory — her feelings were so right there on the page — all I needed as a guide was the book.”

And when she finally met her, what was that like?

“We met a few weeks ago in this hotel in New York. I’ll never forget it. She walked into the suite. Here was this woman whose shoes I had filled cinematically. I was very nervous even though I had heard that she and her daughter had seen the film and really liked it. So when I saw her face, her eyes, it gave me goose bumps. All I could do was look at her and say nothing. I was speechless. I felt like a little girl. I grabbed her and hugged her, and then we had a nice talk and went out to dinner, and I haven’t seen her since.”

The real Kuki Gallmann is also in New York for the junket. 

Thirty years ago she went to Africa with her husband and her son from a first marriage. Their life there was fraught with violent tragedy. Although advised afterwards to return to Italy, she has remained in Africa, where she established a ranch that promotes the harmonious coexistence between man and his environment.

What did she think of Kim’s performance, I ask her.

“I thought Kim did a tremendous job. She put her heart into this film. She cried real tears, and there’s not much more you can ask. Obviously it’s very difficult to portray an entire life time in an hour and three quarters, but I thought Africa came out very, very beautiful.”  

For the record Kim confirmed that she and her mother are reconciled after nine years of not speaking to each other, but that she still does not speak to her  brother. The reason: they disapproved of her buying the town of Braselton in Georgia for $20 million. And they might have been right!