Alec Baldwin says DeLorean's story is a car crash
The Hollywood star of a new film exploring the murky past of the man who tried to create the car of the future in Belfast has claimed John DeLorean's ambition drove him to do terrible things.
Alec Baldwin plays the infamous car-maker - whose iconic design was immortalised in the 'Back to the Future' movie franchise - in a new semi-documentary. And he believes DeLorean started out with pure motives.
"Sometimes people do horrible things, or they do criminal things, they hurt other people, and they create a lot of wreckage in their path," he said.
"But their intention is a good one, initially, and then things just become perverted. I think that's the case with John."
Framing John DeLorean, directed by Sheena M Joyce and Don Argott, tells the story of the controversial man behind the unmistakable sports car with doors that flapped open like wings.
The DMC-12 came into being after its mastermind was forced out of General Motors following a meteoric rise to the top.
The entrepreneur went on to found the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) and based its factory in west Belfast, creating 2,600 jobs in the Troubles - but the dream proved too good to be true and it all spun out of control.
"His ambition drove him to a point and he was backed into a corner," Baldwin told US site NPR.
"And then he started to do really, really terrible things and he should have stopped. But he didn't, and then all the wheels fell off - no pun intended."
DeLorean had managed to swindle more than £100m out of the Labour Government after his venture was championed by the then Northern Ireland Secretary Roy Mason, who believed the endeavour to be a great psychological boost for the region.
But Mason, who predicted it would be a hammer-blow for the IRA, also believed DeLorean's claims to have already secured 30,000 orders from 400 outlets all over America.
Baldwin said he thinks John "really believed that he was a hero" and claimed vanity was his downfall. "John was obsessed with his public relations. Obsessed," he added.
The former vice president of GM was a misfit in the culture of the American car industry in the 1970s - he was rarely seen in a suit and preferred the company of movie stars to stuffy executives. Soon after his arrival in Belfast with his glamorous super-model wife Cristina Ferrare, rumours of the couple's extravagant lifestyle travelled around the city.
It included reports that the high-fliers were jetting back and forward to palatial homes in America on Concorde.
Their home at Warren House on Thornhill Road in Dunmurry was said to have gold taps in the bathrooms, but the pair apparently never stayed in the house due to Special Branch fears they could be targets for IRA kidnappers.
Baldwin said the one-time king of the auto industry's problems began with his narcissism that was grounded in several things including plastic surgery.
"(It was) a level of manipulating your public persona that we identify with the Kardashians," he explained. "John DeLorean was ahead of the curve doing that then, in order to make people believe about him what he needed them to believe."
A happy ending to the fairytale seemed inevitable in 1981 when the DMC-12 began rolling off the production lines at the Dunmurry factory, but minor glitches with the car's design were quickly overtaken by major finance problems.
It all came crashing down after Margaret Thatcher put the brakes on Government subsidies and refused to bail the company out. DMC went into administration on February 19, 1982.
In 1984, pictures of DeLorean being arrested by FBI agents during a drugs bust in a Los Angeles hotel room were beamed around the world. He was charged with conspiring to distribute almost 25 kilos of cocaine after being caught with a briefcase stuffed with millions of pounds worth of white powder.
However, DeLorean was acquitted two years later after successfully arguing he was the victim of entrapment and while he walked away with Cristina by his side, the pair later divorced.
Baldwin shared details of a conversation he had with Cristina - played by Morena Baccarin - while he was researching her "very smart, very shrewd and very manipulative" ex-husband.
"She said John literally could walk into a room and talk anybody into anything," he recalled.
However, the Saturday Night Live star also said the ultimately "tragic figure" had a "Robin Hood complex" which meant that while he broke the letter of the law, DeLorean believed he was "benevolent" in keeping the spirit of the law.