It’s hard to believe that Kevin Bacon is now entering his sixth decade in Hollywood (he made his big screen debut in 1978’s Animal House), with his latest collaboration with David Koepp, You Should Have Left, being his most recent project. The psychological thriller is currently streaming on VOD and Digital, and in honor of the occasion, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with Bacon at a recent virtual press day for the film’s release.
During the interview, Bacon discussed his thoughts on reteaming with Koepp and his character in the film, Theo Conroy. The iconic actor also offered up his thoughts on genre storytelling, the timeliness of You Should Have Left’s themes, and more.
How was it reuniting with David on this? And do you look at this film as something of a spiritual successor to Stir of Echoes?
Kevin Bacon: I don't know that I thought of it as a spiritual successor to Stir of Echoes, but I'll take that because I love Stir of Echoes. It was great to reunite with David. It almost didn't really feel like a reunion because as soon as we said, “Wrap,” on Stir of Echoes, I had been begging David to do another movie with me, and another scary movie, but it took 20 years of convincing. He's a friend and we have a very, very close working relationship and he's a great collaborator.
What's interesting is that it was a 20-year gap between the movies, which felt like an eternity. But I saw the wheels turning in his head on an idea for something for us to do together. From that point, until when we actually were in Wales shooting, was relatively fast. I mean, I've tried to get a lot of movies off the ground in the course of my life, and sometimes I’ve been more successful than others. But this one was really very quick, and very exciting for both of us.
I think Theo is a really interesting character. For as much as he's obviously screwed up, and he's going through some stuff on his marriage, I think this movie makes a really interesting point about accountability on his part. I was wondering if you could talk about that and about digging into him and pulling back the layers on these things that he's going through, mentally and emotionally, and then parlaying that into the film itself.
Kevin Bacon: Well, those are all themes that we were trying to delve into. Paranoia, doubt about relationships, accountability, and, at what point have you paid for your sins? And, at what point do you still have more to be accountable for? Is it possible to ask for forgiveness and have your slate wiped clean or not?
I think a movie, in a way, asks more questions about that than it does answer. But you see a lot these days, certainly with our relatively new historically digital footprints, people are being called to task for things that they had done many, many, many years ago. If they say they're sorry, or they say they've changed, or they are repenting, is that enough or is it not? I don't really know the answer to that question, but it certainly is one that the movie is going pretty deep into.
The relationship between Theo and his daughter Ella is great. Could you discuss how she ends up being the catalyst to him coming to the realization of this dangerous situation he may be putting her in?
Kevin Bacon: Yeah, well, there's a lot of things going on there. One is that not only is his wife way too young for him, but he's also too old to have a new child. So we found that with all of that, there was going to be some interesting dynamics to the fact that this is a man who is not at a point in his life where he really feels like he wants to get down and play blocks, or try to explain simple lessons to somebody. You get that's something that you're a little bit better at when you're a younger parent, a younger father, and yet he adores her and has a love for her that is as deep as it could possibly run. She’s a remarkable child and Avery [Tiu Essex] is a remarkable actress.
I think that the movie is about standing up and thinking of consequences and being honest to the extent that he can be honest with his little girl. I think Avery Essex was really fantastic, especially considering this was her first movie. It's quite a performance.
You have a catalog of many horror movies in your repertoire. Do you prefer the slasher type or the supernatural type personally? And if they ever get Friday the 13th back up off the ground, would you ever consider making a cameo in whatever capacity if they approached you?
Kevin Bacon: Well, first off, I will say that I've got a lot of all the genres on my resume, as I've done so many movies and I've bounced around so much. Also, because I'm really drawn to character more than I am to genre, if there's a great character and in a comedy or a romance or a horror movie or an action movie or historical or drama, or that's what I want to do—just be a character actor. That's why I've ended up in horror a few different times because it presents great acting challenges.
There's the emotional stuff and there's trying to modulate all these different levels of fear, because you're going to be scared through a horror movie if you're the lead character. Those are acting challenges that I really like. I'm certainly more of a fan of psychological and emotional horror than I am of slasher movies. I think that with Friday the 13th, I was an out-of-work actor who was doing a lot of theater and trying to pay the rent. I needed the gig. But then it turned out to be this phenomenon of the genre.
The scary movies that I grew up on were The Shining, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, and Don't Look Now. Those movies are the ones that I'm a little bit more drawn to. But interestingly, I think that even within that, those different subgenres of horror, one of them is funny-scary. And I put Tremors in that category. I love that kind of film, too, and that's a really tough balance to hit. I am a consumer. I do go and see a lot of scary stuff.
With it being 20 years after Stir of Echoes, did you notice any changes in how you and David worked together?
Kevin Bacon: I think that we certainly have learned a lot, both of us about filmmaking. I mean, he had only directed a couple of times when we did Stir of Echoes, and he's done a whole bunch of movies since then. I have done more directing and producing since then, too, and acting and growing up and living life and getting married and having children and being in relationships. So, all these kinds of things have an impact on what the process is.
I mean, the one thing that I will say that was true about David then, and it's true about David now, is that he is a great collaborator for as brilliant as he is and for the amount of success that he's had. If you want to put the billions of dollars together for things that he has written, it's pretty remarkable. He is someone that really is interested in the input of other people. That's not just me, not just actors or producers, but production designers and cinematographers and costume designers. Does he have opinions? Absolutely, he's got very strong opinions, but he really, really likes the fact that filmmaking is a collaborative effort. And I really admire that about him.
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