Kevin Bacon adds a degree with 'nerd' hero of 'Death Sentence'

by Barry Koltnow

The Orange County Register (MCT)

31 August 2007

(Daniel A. Anderson/Orange County Register/MCT) 

LOS ANGELES—It is almost impossible to sit next to Kevin Bacon in a Los Angeles hotel suite without silently playing the parlor game “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

Of course, no mention is made of the game-playing during this interview.

cover art

Death Sentence

Director: James Wan
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Garrett Hedlund, Kelly Preston, John Goodman, Aisha Tyler, Leigh Whannell

(Fox Atomic)
US theatrical: 31 Aug 2007 (General release)

Review [31.Aug.2007]

From earlier interviews with the actor, I remember that he doesn’t particularly enjoy discussing the game, in which participants see how many links it takes to connect any actor to Bacon through their film roles.

However, it turns out now that Bacon, 49, has made peace with the game named after him, and he has taken a “If-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them” approach by creating a charitable social network called Six Degrees.org.

Still, he’d rather talk about “Death Sentence,” his new “Death Wish-like” action film. Bacon plays an ordinary family man who is driven to vigilante violence after his world is torn apart by tragedy.

Sitting one degree away, Bacon explains why he is playing a reluctant action hero after a string of dark and intense dramatic roles, what he really thinks of his wife’s TV success on “The Closer” and how he assesses his chances of ever being in a Disney film.

You’re known for being Kyra Sedgwick’s husband, Travis Bacon’s father and Michael Bacon’s brother. Don’t you have an identity of your own?
No. In fact, if you go to the set of “The Closer,” the visiting directors get a chair with their name on it. I directed a couple of episodes and the chair they brought out for me said “Kevin Sedgwick.”

You must be very proud of your wife?
Oh, I’m thrilled for her. She deserves it. She’s worked so hard. And now she’s working even harder.

I know being separated by work has always been an issue with you guys. How are you handling the separation, now that she’s filming here and you’re in New York?
She’s out here about six months a year. I come out about every two weeks. This summer, my daughter’s been out here the whole time.

How does Kyra’s schedule affect your career? You used to alternate movies so that one of you was always home but now she’s on a TV series with a grueling shooting schedule.
In the first year, I stayed home more so the kids would have someone there. It actually affected her more than me. She was feeling so concerned about leaving them. I think it would have been really difficult for her if I hadn’t stayed. Knowing I was home, she could really throw herself into the show. But I’ve been working a lot lately.

How about Travis? How’s his band going?
Great. He personally planned a 30-city tour this summer. They’re driving around in a rattle-trap van. It’s all very underground.

Are they a signed band?
No, they play in basements and people’s houses, wherever they can find a place that will let them play.

Are they a punk band?
Serious punk. Really, really hard-core punk.

Do you feel that makes you a success or a failure as a father?
A success because raising kids has nothing to do with his choice of music. It’s about who he is. He’s smart, he’s compassionate and he’s well-adjusted. And he’s going off to college.

He’s 18 now, and you’re daughter’s 15. Does she have any artistic aspirations?
She enjoys acting, but we don’t encourage any kind of professional life until 18. I don’t want to push her into being a child actor.

So, it’s a case of “do as I say, and not as I do?”

How about your group, the Bacon Brothers Band?
We played a lot this spring, and I think we’re starting to hone in on some new material for an album.

When I read your bio, I don’t see where the love of music came from?
I actually started writing songs before I took my first acting class.

I’d hear tunes in my head but I didn’t play an instrument then so I’d get together with my brother and he’d write them down.

(Daniel A. Anderson/Orange County Register/MCT)

(Daniel A. Anderson/Orange County Register/MCT)

Why did you end up in acting, and not music?
Well, my brother was already working in music, and I took an acting class, and fell in love with it. My life just took that turn.

No regrets?

And how did you end up in a revenge movie?
Rarely in life do you say: “This is what I’m looking to do,” and then it happens. In this case, I had been doing this cerebral stuff like “The Woodsman” and “Mystic River” and I just wanted to kick some (butt). And this script arrived two weeks later.

What happened when you read the script?
I couldn’t believe how much emotional depth there was. There was something for me to sink my teeth into. It’s driven by loss and the desire to protect your family. It’s so basic. And the guy’s the opposite of an action hero. He’s a nerd.

You and director James Wan (“Saw”) must have been concerned about the pace of the development of his fighting skills to keep it believable?
We were very concerned about that, but I must admit that the character is a pretty quick study toward the end of the movie (laughs). It’s so real in the beginning and gradually, the reality gets heightened. The end of the movie is almost stylized.

Is that OK with you?
Yeah, I dig that. I think it’s really interesting, from a filmmaking standpoint.

Why were you in such a mood to kick butt?
I don’t know, man. I guess it’s because so many of my movies lately have lacked physicality. I thought it might be fun to run around and shoot people.

Perhaps it was that 50th birthday coming up?
Maybe. I’d have to get on the shrink’s couch to find out.

You’ve got to be one of the hardest-working actors in the business, and I understand you have three more films lined up. Is there some kind of a career plan?
No plan. Something interesting comes along and I do it. I never understand when actors say they’re going to take a year off. Maybe I’ll get to that point one day but, right now, I can’t decide in advance to take time off because something really interesting might come along.

So, you’re a man without a plan?
If there is any plan, it might be to lighten up. Everything I’ve been doing has been so intense. It starts to take a toll when you have to do dark roles all the time.

Are you saying you’d like to do some comedies?
The industry has very little memory and very little imagination when it comes to casting, and I’m at a point where they see me as the go-to guy for intense roles. It’s impossible for me to get a comedy.

Do you think “Death Sentence” will help you get a comedy?
No, I think it goes in the opposite direction. It’s certainly not going to open any doors to Disney.

Should we feel sorry for you?
It’s not as sad as the actor known only for comedy who is trying to break into dramas. Now that’s a tough one, and I’m glad I’m not in that position. It’s almost as hard as being an actor in a rock band.

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