Everyone knows Kevin Bacon from movies like Footloose, Apollo 13, A Few Good Men, and Mystic River. Who remembers, without cheating, how his character died in the first Friday the 13th movie? I’ll tell you at the end of the interview. For many years, Kevin watched his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, play on tv as Brenda Leigh Johnson on The Closer, as well as other TV roles. Now it’s his turn, as he’s taking a run at playing retired, but forced to return to service, FBI agent, Ryan Hardy, in FOX’s new drama, The Following. Ryan is the only agent who knows serial killer Joe Carroll, and he has escaped from prison and is activating followers all over the place. Can Ryan stop him? Will the show make it? And what does doing this interview make my Bacon number? A 1? Am I one degree from Kevin Bacon? Please read on to find out more!
TheTwoCents: The show can get very dark. Is that easy to kind of get out of your system at the end of the day, or does it kind of stick with you a bit?
Kevin Bacon: I find that over the years, as you know, I’ve dealt with a lot of dark material in the movies as well. I think you have to find ways to protect yourself from that and when I’m on the set, I’m very, very focused. We have to stay focused on our job at hand, and when you dealing with things that are of a thrilling nature, tense, ticking clock-kind of vibe, you have to keep yourself in that head space. But, I work real hard to try to turn it off on the weekends if I can and connect with things like my family, my kids, my dog, take a walk in the woods, those kinds of things; you have a good meal, they’re able to pull me out of that head space.
TTC: Why did you decide it was time for television?
KB: I had been looking for a television series for a long time and trying to get my head around it. My initial call, if you will, to my representatives was probably three or four years ago. But, it just took some time to really find the right one. I had seen Kyra’s experience secondhand and was also finding myself to be more and more of a television consumer. The quality of the shows and the writing just seemed to be getting better and better and better, and I just found myself really knocked out by so many shows and sitting down and spending a weekend watching every episode of The Wire, stuff like that. And then, this one had the qualities that I was drawn to.
TTC: Many of the top TV shows today are crime dramas, yet people complain about violence on television. Why do you think this is?
KB: I think that this show is a thriller about a serial killer. That’s what it is and it’s not a comedy. When I go to—as a consumer of films or television, if you’re telling me that something is a comedy, I’m going to be really disappointed if I go and I don’t laugh. If someone has pitched something to me as incredibly moving, I want real tears coming down my cheeks. And if something is supposed to be a thriller, I want to be on the edge of my seat. I want to be scared. I want to have chills. I want to be grinding my teeth or turning my eyes or whatever. When we make films and television, we, I think, are doing it to try to tap into something emotional for people and this show is not an exception. That’s what we’re trying to do. And the other thing is why do you think people, and “Ryan” obviously clearly, why are people so fascinated by serial killers particularly? I don’t know. It’s really interesting that you ask that because I’m really not sure. I was talking to somebody the other day and I’ve known the guy for a lot of years and he said, “Oh, by the way I read everything about serial killers. I’m just fascinated by it.” I suppose—gosh, I don’t know. I think that when there’s a lot of darkness around, sometimes you want to just kind of confront it in a way that you know that it’s ultimately not real. It’s a TV show or it’s a movie. You know what I mean? I think people probably—there’s probably more people watching films and television than there are watching documentaries about serial killers, but I don’t know. I really don’t have the answer to that.
TTC: What makes you want to go to such a dark place and do this kind of character and basically be depressed all day long?
KB: Well, doctor, I don’t know, man. [Laughs] In the scope of a career, I certainly have explored things of a lighter nature. I’m the guy from Footloose. The biggest issue was whether or not the town was going to be allowed to dance or not. Underground worms; this movie, R.I.P.D., that’s in the can. It was really a great thing to do because it’s—I’m playing a sort of, I don’t know how you would describe him, kind of like a zombie- type character, but it was really kind of a fun and lighthearted movie. So, I certainly like to mix it up. But when I was trying to choose a series, I wanted to be the hero. I wanted the character to be complex and flawed because that’s the kind of heroes that I like to play and that’s the kind of hero that I like to see. I mean that’s the stuff that performance is made of. And, I found as I was shifting and sifting through stories and pilots that I would really like something, but then I would think to myself, “I don’t know if the stakes are high enough.” I wanted to do something that was about life and death because when I was looking at things that I was kind of drawn to in a series, things like Breaking Bad, and The Killing, and Homeland, and The Wire, even Game of Thrones, a lot of them are about life and death.
TTC: Okay, and then on a little bit of a lighter note, does James freak you out sometimes? Where you’re doing scenes with him?
KB: No, he doesn’t freak me out. I love working with James. He’s just one of those—our kind of working situation is one of those things that he came to us so quickly in a strange kind of way. It wasn’t something that needed to be nurtured and sort of built up over time. We walked on the set did our first rehearsal and just had a great connection. I love the scenes that we get a chance to play, and he is incredibly well prepared, and just great choices, and a great listener, and just a great actor. I mean it’s a real gas to play with him.
TTC: All right, how about those Poe masks? Do they freak you out?
KB: They’re kind of creepy, yes. Those Poe masks are—it’s funny because when I saw them in the script, I was like the guy comes after me with a Poe mask. I said, “I don’t know, that seems a little—what is a Poe mask?” And, then I saw the actual realization of them and I thought they were really, really well done.
Indeed they are. Are you enjoying The Following? It airs tonight and most Mondays on FOX at 9PM ET. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Oh. In Friday the 13th, Kevin’s character gets an arrow up through the throat while lying on a bed. Did you remember?
Anne – Assistant TO the Editor-in-Chief