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June 2006
LOVERBOY : An Interview with Kevin Bacon

LOVERBOY : An Interview with Kevin Bacon
By Wilson Morales

Kevin Bacon has worked so much in the film business with so many people that even I try to find a degree to him. Lately, Bacon has been taking a darker approach to films. Besides starring in the murder mystery ‘Where The Truth Lies”, Bacon got critical acclaim for his performance as a paroled pedophile in “The Woodsman” and will star in a thriller called “Death Sentence”; but his upcoming project is as a director. Helming the film is one thing, but Bacon is also featured in the film and is directing his wife Kyra Sedgwick and his kids in the film, “Loverboy”. The story is about a neglected daughter who becomes a possessive mother in an emotional journey into the heart and mind of a woman who loved too much. Bacon recently spoke to blackfilm.com about working with his family and how hard it was to find a distributor.

Can you talk about directing your wife and kids?

Kevin Bacon: She’s very easy to direct because she’s so good. She comes so prepared. Essentially I just turn on the camera and let he do her thing. Obviously we have a bit of a shorthand from being married for so long. Directing the kids, it was a little bit different. It’s weird to have your kids go to a darker, emotional place. It’s something we vowed we would never do. It s something we never encouraged with them, any kind of show business, child actor stuff. They never showed any interest in it anyway. This is just a situation where for the part that Sosie played, it was kind of a no brainer, playing Kyra’s little girl, playing my daughter at the right age. I put on my director’s hat, the director overruled the father.

How comfortable do you feel with director’s hat?

KB: I don’t think comfortable is a feeling you ever have as a director. I think fear, frustration, anxiety, overwhelmed, that’s what comes to mind. I certainly would like to do it again sometime. It’s a huge commitment both time wise and energy wise. It’s got to be a story you really want to tell. I’m not one of these people who’s dreamed of directing and looked at acting as a way to get behind the camera. It’s something of a natural extension of being an actor and just finding a story I fond interesting.


KB: Sometime you read a piece of material and you start to think directorially. You start to think about the casting. It’s different than reading something and saying this is a character I could play. I found the book cinematic and I liked the non-linear quality. I liked the fact that there was something wrong, something was off. But I wasn’t sure what that was. The place that it took me, back and forth in time, I found kind of interesting from a cinematic standpoint. I also feel that off-Broadway was a home to me when I first started. In a way, independent filmmaking is sort of the off-Broadway of the film industry. I think that’s the place where you can do things with subject matter that’s not down the line and you can express yourself in an unusual way. It’s an odd, schizophrenic kind of film and independents are the place to experiment.

How did your acting background help directing?

KB: You learn a lot as an actor, I’ve spent most of my life, thirty years on movie sets. You learn as much from the good experiences with directors as the bad experiences. You know what qualities you want to bring and the ones you don’t. I also think being an actor, just in terms of the process of filmmaking, I know it so intimately. You see what a day is, you know about call sheets, you know about lenses, and light, and sound, all these things, because you’re so directly affected as an actor. There’s a lot of things that aren’t mysteries when you step into the director’s chair. There was something that was new to me, and I found fascinating, was editing. I’ve never edited my own movies as an actor. I’ve certainly been on a set, had influence, and worked with people who were collaborative. I know how a scene is structured, but I’d never been in the editing room, except in “The Woodsman” to a certain extent.

How did you cope with that?

KB: I walked in, I said to the guys, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here and where do we start.” Okay, we’ll start with this first scene. Here’s the one you shot, here are the rough cuts. Especially in a movie like this where you’re popping around in time. There’s a bazillion combinations and possibilities that you can shape in the editing room. It’s fun.

Did you ever have to say I’m the boss?

KB: No, I look at it as a collaborative thing. I think there’s a nice balance you have to find between letting people know there is a leader, that they are protected, there is someone who’s in control. But at the same time, you listen, and be open, collaborate. I have this story I want to tell, whether it’s a 100 million dollar film or a million dollar film. It’s still a behemoth of stuff that has to get done. It’s so complex. The way the process is set-up, and it’s been almost exactly the same way since movies were first made, there are all these jobs that each person does. Each person is so good at that job, and that is there complete focus. The prop man, he has thought a thousand times about how big the bottle of water should be. As a director, you can give it some thought, you can answer some questions, but that can’t be your entire focus. When it comes to acting I feel exactly the same way, nobody knows as much about an actor as the actor who’s playing it. Because that’s all they’ve been thinking about. Rarely can I tell a good actor something that he doesn’t know about his character. I feel my job as a director is to create an environment where they come in ready to play.

What point did you decide to play your character, and in the editing process, did you understand why your scenes were cut as an actor?

KB: I didn’t decide in the beginning, but I was fascinated by the parent’s story. I felt like I’d never seen that in a movie, where the exclusivity of love between the parents was exclusional of the child. Usually you see a child suffering because the parents aren’t getting along or there is a divorce. To see that was something new, I knew that I wanted that to be a pretty important part of the movie. I didn’t want to play any of the guys opposite Kyra because we’d run the risk of stunt casting and it would take us out of the movie. But at the same time, I knew when we were setting this up, even at the budget level we are at, our financier would love to have some names in it. Even with Kyra and me, they were still asking who could we get to be in the movie. I decided to play that part because it would kick things into gear to get the ball rolling, from a financial standpoint. Plus I thought it would be a fun part. In terms of the editing room, yes, I definitely see that there are times when things are as good as they are, but they have to go. The only thing that’s hard is that I know there were plenty of takes that I’ve done that were better than the ones in the movie. That’s something that’s kind of frustrating when you see that people don’t go back and make a concerted effort to find the best possible moments from your actors. Sometimes people will err on the side of a shot that’s more graceful, for me that’s not the thing to focus on, certainly not for a movie like “Loverboy”. You have to keep going back to the performances.

You mentioned something that was wrong with the story. It’s never clear if there’s a bad guy?

KB: Both as a director and an actor, I’m much more into gray than I am black and white. I think the black and white has its place in certain kinds of movies. I am the first person to cheer when the bad guy gets it. I’ve made movies and played those parts, good and bad, that really fit into that mold. With a film like this, the lead character is perfect example; here she is on her way to committing this heinous crime. Along the way, I wanted you to see the magical side of her, the funny side, the sexy side, the romantic side, she is in her own way a victim; a victim of her crumbling psyche and the pain she suffered as a child. Her parents are not the baddies. It’s a lot more like life to me.

How close did you stick to the book? Incestual love?

KB: Well, I wanted to be careful. It’s very close to the book. I wanted to make sure the love is deep and very passionate, but I didn’t want it to feel like a sexual kind of thing. I think there is a part of her replacing the men she could have had in her life. But it’s not crossing the line into some kind of child abuse. There are some differences. When I go back into the 70’s, both times, I heightened that reality in the way that memory might. If I think about my life in the 70’s, I hear music; I have a kind of glossed-over image of what it really was. That’s more of stylistic thing that I brought and isn’t in the book. The main way it differs is that they both live in the end of the book. It left too many questions up in the air. That’s not something I wanted to leave an audience with. So I basically had them die, and constructed this idea that we seem the kid later on and he’s okay. There is a hopeful quality to it. He did take things from her that were valuable.

It’s taken some time to get distribution?

KB: Oh yeah, very difficult. It’s tough out there. We had a hard time getting distribution for “The Woodsman”. We’ll be out there, going from town to town, going from festival to festival, trying to get someone to put it out. In all markets, including mainstream and independents, there’s always a question of commercial viability and whether someone sees it as something to make their money back. That’s the bottom line. It was a long road, but worth it. I feel like on the few screens its on, people will have an opportunity to see it in the theatre. Then its life will move.

Who’s your audience?

KB: You can crunch all those numbers, and god knows the bean counters do it every day. They say this star means this much in this audience. We have a built-in audience because of the amount of books. Sometimes they’re right; sometimes they’re not right, as we’ve seen this summer. I don’t know, I just make them and out it out there. If nobody sees it, it meant something to me. If a few people see it, that’s great too.

Do you rights in Europe?

KB: Europe is gone. Think was just domestically.

What is about sexuality in different ways you find interesting?

KB: Somebody else asked me about that, the thematic nature of doing movies where bad things happen to kids. That seems to always be coming up. I have to admit that I’m doing a movie where my son is murdered and I go on a killing spree. Honestly, it’s not like I set out to do movies that push the limit sexually or movies that involve tragedy for children. The only thing I can guess is that I know when it comes to filmmaking, acting, song writing for that matter, there is something therapeutic about it to me. I live a very normal sort of life, downright dull, my private life. I think that as a creative person, time and time again, we put our darkest fears, our most extreme thoughts, in our work. If I was a painter, I don’t think people would question that as much, if the work is disturbing. Movies are sort of different. We tend to look at someone’s work and relate it directly to who they are. He’s a funny guy, or he’s a romantic guy, to me it’s just painting it the way I see it.

But you’re not labeled?

KB: For many years, the one thing I was really committed to, as an actor, was not to be put into one kind of category, or someone that can do one kind of thing. That’s something I fought for a long time. I think I have that know, because of the roles that coming to me. Although, in terms of the genre of the pictures, a lot of them are pretty serious. I would be happy to explode that a little bit and do something more romantic or comedic, fantasy. Sometimes I look at it, read it, and see there’s not enough there to really sink my teeth into. If I’m going to spend four months of my life, I don’t want to just be there. A lot of times, the scripts that have the dark material are just deeper.

Are you a painter? Visual elements of directing?

KB: I’m not a painter, but I draw. Although I don’t draw as much as I used to. I grew up drawing and painting. I think a lot about architecture and design. I worked with my cinematographer. We talked about what our options are visually. I wanted the flashbacks to feel different. We used a difference technique in the Marty and Sybil scenes and different technique in the Sandra Bullock scene. Sandra Bullock, those scenes are filmed with a technique where you only print every other frame. It gives it a magical way, she moves in space in a magical way. Marty and Sybil, besides the filters, just incredibly wide lenses. They are kind of bizarre. We also use where Kyra’s story progresses, the angles dutch over. They are very straight ahead in the beginning.

Any more comedy?

KB: I’d really like to do some comedy. First off, they’re hard to do and it’s hard to find a really good one. I read one recently that just killed me, but I think too old unfortunately. But there’s also the Catch 22 of people not seeing you in comedy now, so therefore I don’t get the comedies now. So I have to find that one gets me back in the door. I’d love to do something funny.

Anything with the band?

KB: We put a new record out about four months ago. We’ll tour in the summer.

Records name?

KB: White Knuckles

Playing gigs in NYC?

KB: We just played a gig a month ago at BB Kings. We’ve done a few gigs. The next place we’re playing that’s close by is Stanford, CT. We continue to play and to write too. I’m six or seven songs into the next record.

Any movies about music?

KB: I have toyed around with it. The thing I don’t want to do is cheapen either one just so I can combine the two. That doesn’t make any sense to me. But there are elements of music that has interested me. I was talking to some writers recently about an idea I had surrounding a tour manager. I think that’s a really interesting gig. We’ll see.

What’s the movie that you’re doing?

KB: Death Sentence.

LOVERBOY opens on June 16th, 2006



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