When I sat down to talk with Kevin Bacon, our conversation was more natural and comfortable than many of my interviews for the magazine. A nicer, more down-to-earth person would be hard to find.
The fact that he is a well-known actor does not seem to register. Here is what this man had to say…
AM: At what point do you think you realized you wanted to make acting your career?
KB: As a kid, I knew I wanted to be rich and famous; that was really clear to me. I was fifteen or so when I started to apprentice in little theatres in Philadelphia. It was then that I realized it was a craft; it was then that I realized it was a place where you could explore the good and the dark sides of your own psyche. And I found that very therapeutic, and, you know, as a young kid I had no idea of what therapy was. To know your sadness, your enjoyment and all those kinds of things…I hadn’t been exploring that. Also, I got into acting classes, and I thought, ‘Holy shit, this is like really frightening, but also like really incredible.’ I just said, “Okay, that’s it! I’m going to be an actor.” And while the fame thing was still there, it was also not really the number one driving force anymore. By time I got to New York, when I was seventeen, I was really focused on the craft and studying and becoming good.
AM: You haven’t always been the leading man. Has that been a positive in hav i ng t he opport u n it y to d ive i nto such a w ide va r iet y of cha racter t y pes?
KB: I became an actor because I wanted to experience as many different parts as I could. I wanted to experience walking in the shoes of different men. To me, that is what an actor is. That was just my idea: that one day you were rich, another day you’re poor; one day you’re from the south, the next day you’re from the North East, and one day you’re smart and then you’re dumb, and, you know, your hair is long, your hair is short. I have to say to actually have that experience for a career is a real challenge, and it’s something I never take for gran- ted. It’s something I’ve had to fight really hard for. Generally, people want you to basically do the same thing that you did, and casting is often times very narrow-minded. People are afraid of giving an actor an opportunity to do something that they haven’t seen before. A very good example of that is if somebody is good at comedy. There are those guys that are funny as hell, and the movies that they do where they’re funny are the ones that tend to work. For them to step out of that is hard. The same thing goes for the guy that plays a mobster really believably. For somebody to say, “Well, I think we want to cast him as a scientist” takes grit. Those stereotypes are hard to break. I feel extremely grateful when I look at the kinds of roles that come my way; they are varied, and they are different sorts of people from different walks of life. One of the things I decided early on was that I would take interesting parts, but the size of the part and the amount of money that I was paid and the amount of money or budget of the movie would be out of the mix. Of course, I want to make money; I want to have a big part. But, if there is something there that I really want to play, and it’s not the lead, I’ll do it. It’s actually kind of interesting because on the television show [‘The Following’] I play one character for a long time. It is natural for the people that watch the show to get very, very, quickly imprinted that you are that guy. While, I don’t have anything in the can right now, my agenda for when the show is done is to put more characters out into the public consciousness that aren’t the same as the guy on the show. If I’m going to work on a movie after the show is over, it’s not going to be an FBI agent. Of course, I say that now, but you never know. [Laughs] But if he is an FBI agent, he’s not going to have the same motivations or backstory.