"You described your ex-wife's lawyer as a 300-pound homunculus with a face like a clenched fist," Safer says.
"I was being kind, Morley. I was being kind," Baldwin jokes.
"It's up there in the pantheon of abusive remarks, correct?" Safer asks.
"Yeah. Well, I think that people who treat someone the way I was treated during that case, you respond to them, I don't view that as abusive," Baldwin says.
He says his divorce from Basinger was devastating, and the custody fight over their daughter was brutal. It all took a physical toll on Baldwin.
"I didn't care how I looked, I didn't care if I took care of myself or those things. I just couldn't be bothered," Baldwin says.
But the ravages of time and indifference have some positive side effects: he's become sought after to play characters who are not leads, but who add a certain authenticity, like his role as a casino boss in "The Cooler."
The Cooler got him an Oscar nomination and led to more scene-stealing roles in films like "The Aviator" and "The Departed," both directed by Martin Scorsese.
"He has an extraordinary ability to listen to the other actor. It's all going on in his face and in his eyes, and his extraordinary consummate timing, whether it's dramatic or comic actually," Scorsese explains. "I can't wait to work with him again. He's a damn good actor, who is dependable, and who can really give you the goods."
His latest "goods" is a romantic confection called "It's Complicated" with fellow scene-stealers Meryl Streep and Steve Martin. The transition from heart throb to member of the Paunch Corps has been almost seamless.