Alec Baldwin has been named to the cast of NBC’s live telecast of “A Few Good Men,” playing the role Jack Nicholson catapulted to movie legend with just one line: “You can’t handle the truth!”
Baldwin is the first cast member named to the production, which will air sometime in the spring of 2018, and he fills arguably its most famous role: Base commander Col. Nathan Jessep, who is ultimately arrested for the murder of a private at Guantánamo after ordering a “code red,” or extrajudicial punishment, when the private sought transfer to another base. (Tom Cruise played the prosecuting attorney, Daniel Kaffee, during the trial of two other Marines initially accused of killing the private).
The production will be based on Aaron Sorkin’s original Broadway play, which he will adapt for live television. In a statement, Sorkin said, “Alec is one of our greatest actors. Having him play this role — live onstage for a television audience — is a dream come true. This will be a brand new take on Nathan Jessep and I expect that Alec is going to bust through TV screens and right into living rooms.”
In the 1992 movie directed by Rob Reiner, Nicholson’s character’s name was spelled “Jessup,” but NBC said Sorkin decided to retain the spelling from the Broadway production — “Jessep” — which is at least one indication this adaptation might more closely parallel the 1989 stage version than the movie.
For Baldwin — and certainly NBC — there’s some symbolic importance here beyond the role. This will be NBC’s first move from live musicals to live stage productions, with an actor and writer who have figured prominently in its history. Baldwin was part of one of NBC’s most honored comedies (“30 Rock”) and now fronts the most famous impersonation of Donald Trump on television. Sorkin wrote and created one of NBC’s most honored dramas, “The West Wing.”
In a statement, NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt said Baldwin “will put his own inimitable stamp on the role of Col. Jessep in a play that is still as surprising and relevant as ever, from one of the most gifted writers working today.”