"I don't just want power, I want absolute power. That's nice," he told AP Radio of his role as Sen. Ralph Owen Brewster in the Howard Hughes biopic.
"The other thing is as a person, it's fun to be able to go in and spend the whole day just being ruthless," he said. "I mean, we'd all like to be ruthless once in awhile."
Alda — perhaps best known for his Emmy-winning role as "Hawkeye" Pierce on the '70s comedy-drama "M*A*S*H" — also plays a senator on the television show "The West Wing."
But the roles couldn't be more different.
"The guy in 'The Aviator' is a total scuzzball," the 68-year-old actor said. "And the guy on 'West Wing,' he has principles, he's an idealist, he wants to do good for the country, and he's running for president."
Alda added: "And his first name is Arnold. I think he has a good chance."
On M*A*S*H, Alda's Hawkeye was in every episode over the show's 11-year run, and often the moral center of each episode. It was written into his contract, for example, that every episode had to include at least one operating room scene, to show the horrors of war.
Alda is the only person to ever win Emmy awards for acting, directing, and writing, all for "M*A*S*H." He also won Directors Guild and Golden Globe awards for the show, and was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his acting and screenplay of the movie "Four Seasons" in 1981. He also won a New York Film Critics Award as a lead actor in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" in 1989.