With a track record that includes everything from the lead in the Footloose to a pedophile in The Woodsman New York-based actor Kevin Bacon has proven his skills as a consummate performer. So it’s no wonder that he’s intrigued to take on the challenge of director in doing his latest film Loverboy.
The L Magazine: How comfortable do you feel with the director’s hat? Kevin Bacon: 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.
The L: How did your acting background help directing? KB: You learn a lot as an actor, I’ve spent most of my life, 30 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.
The L: 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.” Ok, 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.
The L: 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, and 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.
The L: How was it directing the wife and kids? KB: Kyra’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. For the part that Sosie played, it was kind of a no brainer. I put on my director’s hat, the director overruled the father.
The L: How close did you stick to the book, particularly since the film almost implied 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.
The L: What is it about aberrant sexuality that 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.