updated 11/10/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/10/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
Adam Baldwin has at 18 been described by producer-director Tony Bill as "the closest thing to a natural movie star I've come across in a long time." Bill chose Baldwin over thousands of teenagers from all over the country—including 40 of Baldwin's classmates at New Trier East H.S. in Winnetka, Ill.—to star as Linderman, the hulking but sensitive protector in last summer's hit, My Bodyguard. "It's the big break story—Hollywood all the way," laughs the 6'4", 205-pound Baldwin, who had to be persuaded by his drama coach to audition for the part. Baldwin's critically acclaimed performance led Robert Redford to cast him as the brash jock Stillman in Ordinary People. But then he was suddenly dropped from the Barbra Streisand film All Night Long when the part was rewritten for an older actor. "I was terribly disappointed," allows Baldwin, whose parents, a bank public relations man and a teacher, were divorced four years ago. He has finished the forthcoming NBC-TV movie Pigs vs. Freaks, in which he plays a '60s draft dodger. He has quit school to tend to his career but plans to take a high school equivalency exam and eventually enter college. "You have to act as if you'll never work in movies again," he philosophizes, "or else you set yourself up for a letdown."