Hollow Man : Kevin Bacon / Hollow Man Interview

American movie star Kevin Bacon chuckles at his own expense when he's reminded about the board game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon'. The creators of the game guaranteed that anyone in Hollywood in the past 15 years could be linked to the versatile actor in six strokes or less. To which the cultural phenomenon responds: "I have no problem with this... look it's going to be on my gravestone...'inspired a board game, also acted'". This year, however, is set to be HIS year. He starred in the critically approved thriller Stir of Echoes as a husband and father whose son has terrifying visions of a girl who has been murdered in their neighbourhood. And he charmed family audiences in My Dog Skip alongside Diane Lane and youngster Frankie Muniz. But the real test awaits. He co-stars with Elizabeth Shue in the 60 million special effects blockbuster The Hollow Man, a Millenium special effects driven re-make of H G Wells's The Invisible Man. The adventure is directed by Dutch action-master Paul Verhoeven who created Starship Troopers, Total Recall and Robocop apart from putting Sharon Stone on the movie map in Basic Instinct.

Charming, boyish Bacon, 41, lives with his actress wife Kyra Sedgewick - Tom Cruise's screen wife from Born on the Fourth of July - on Manhattan's Upper West side when he's not relaxing on his Connecticut countryside spread with children Travis, 10, and Sosie who is eight. The son of a successful city planner from Philadelphia, he cut his acting teeth on stage in New York as a teenager before making his movie debut in the irreverent college riot National Lampoon Animal House in 1978. He burst on to the movie scene as a teen idol in movies such as Footloose and Diner before his career faded away towards the end of the Eighties. But he came back strongly in favour through Oliver Stone's JFK and Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholson, before collecting a Golden Globe nomination for menacing Meryl Streep and her family in The River Wild. Bacon went on to star with Tom Hanks in Apollo 13, and Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt in the taut drama Sleepers, before last year appearing in the sexy thriller Wild Things with Neve Campbell, Denise Richards and Matt Dillon, which he also executive produced. Here, he discusses his life and career.`

What fascinated you about your role as Sebastian Caine in Hollow Man?

"I think most of all the story is about power and abuse of power. Here's a guy who's successful and has a lot going for him but it isn't enough. So he takes part in a risky military experiment, sets himself up as a guinea pig, and descends into sadism and homicidal madness. There's also a level of revenge because of his lady, played by Elizabeth Shue, being unfaithful to him with Josh Brolin. Everyone is fascinated by revenge. I am no different."

It's a very sexual role, isn't it?

"True. We ended up calling him The Horny Man. He can creep into dressing rooms, showers, bedroom, and of course he takes full advantage of his powers. It's quite erotic at times. Imagine creeping up on a woman when she's naked. It's scary but very erotic for both sides. A real journey into fantasyland. But what man hasn't fantasised over such things? A lot of the story has to do with sexual power."

But he's no winner?

"That's where the power thing comes in. He can't win because he allows his powers to get the better of him. In fact, he becomes a monster."

Does anything scare you?

"Me? Mice I don't like. But what scares me most of all is the thought that my kids are in danger or ill. The most natural thing of all is truly terrifying and often out of your control. When this guy's kid is under threat, he reacts. I'd do the same. You'd give your life up for your kid. One of mine swallowed a coin once. I panicked like crazy "

Have you ever tried hypnosis?

"I am not sensitive to hypnotism but I wouldn't mind being hypnotised. It's not that I don't believe in ghosts but I have never had a supernatural experience. Sure, I would walk through a cemetery late at night if I had to. People actually scare me a lot more than ghosts. But seriously, I have a place in the country with a graveyard next door, just off our property and I walk through it all the time. "

What do you think of your own movies?

"Some good, some bad, some terrible. But truly, I never watch the movies after I have made them. There is other stuff I want to see and I never have enough time. For me, getting myself to a cinema is a real luxury which demands a lot of time, often time I haven't got. It's terrible, but unless the movie is great, I fall asleep. When I have watched my stuff I think 'Why didn't I do that differently?' So now I don't watch. It's like your telephone message machine. You hear yourself and think ' YUK!"

After being in so many support roles do you now only insist on being the lead?

"That 's not important to me. I am not looking for material based on the size of the part. If there is a great support part, I got for it. My Dog Skip was only a $4 million movie and I got paid almost nothing to play the father of a small boy with a dog but I adored the script. So the size of the part or my salary isn't the issue. Once you start making decisions based on those things, you end up in trouble. But I know a lot of my future in terms of Hollywood hangs on The Hollow Man "

You made a lot of indie films in the Eighties which bombed. Why?

"I think I was trying to say something I shouldn't have been trying to say. They did nothing for me at all. I had to change direction or I think I might have disappeared career wise so I went more mainstream. Part of the problem was that I was never the person others wanted me to be, like this teen icon from Footloose. So I had to be me and stay true to that ideal. I soon realised that I had to stay true to my original ideal when I worked on stage in New York... find the right role and do it. Don't create a false image."

You and Kyra are a high profile couple. How do you cope?

"Actually, we are terribly normal. We live a very, very quiet life but I don't protect myself from the public in New York. The public and I get along fine. Most New Yorkers are too busy to stop. In my neighbourhood they know me and I take the bus with my son to school every day and the subway. I walk everywhere. If girl fans show up, I ignore them. But we don't party and like to keep to ourselves."

Do your kids watch any of your movies?

"They don't watch my movies. They don't have any interest in them at all. They don't think of us as stars and we don't encourage that at all. When my son was eight I showed him Tremors. I then went out of town. When I got back he said 'Dad, Tremors 2 is great ...were you in it?' I had to tell him that I was only in the original. He was SO disappointed."

Was working in New York tough before you made your breakthrough?

"For four years, on and off, I was a busboy and waiter. It took me four years before I could earn enough as an actor to pay the rent and that was a great day for me. I had this overdeveloped fantasy where I pictured myself collecting an Oscar or talking to Johnny Carson on his chat show. It didn't happen. But I was very pragmatic and practical and set my sights low."

Did you put a lot of pressure on yourself?

"Sure did. My father Edmund who was a city planner was so amazingly successful and famous in his own right, I put pressure on myself because of his ideas on the work syndrome, the work ethic. He was a very strong old-fashioned type but he supported me totally in what I wanted to do. My parents encouraged freedom of expression, which was put on pedestal above all else. My father also never made much money, that wasn't what it was about. But he had respect. That was what I craved. I am an old fashioned boy, I believe in a good day's pay for a good day's work. The thing which has kept me going is knowing that I am in this for the long haul. If it doesn't work out this year maybe it will work out next year."

Was your mother Ruth also a big influence?

"She ran away from her own wealth and her family's wealth and never claimed her inheritance. She spent her life teaching in poor housing projects and prisons and nursing schools. Again, making money wasn't it. She also had ideals. I had a lot to look up to. My parents believed in doing something with your life."

How's the music and your partnership with your older brother Michael?

"We are called The Bacon Brothers Band and we are very much together. It is acoustic driven rock music. We write together and separately with four guys backing us. We have cut our first album Forosoco and love every second when we are together singing. We take it pretty seriously."

How do you take criticism?

"The guys out there have a job to do. When I make a mistake, I hold my hands up and take the rap. Actually my wife Kyra gets more upset than I do. She hates it. She wants to go around and blast them. She sees my mood swings but I am so glad she is in the business so she can understand where I am coming from. When you read you are no longer 'hot' in a magazine, it hurts. You get paranoid. You think 'This is the end'. But I am very successful. I have a huge body of work to my name. People do know me and respect me as an actor and I am lucky enough to have made a lot of money from work. So, no complaints."

But don't you wish you were one the guys picking up an award at the Oscars?

"Sure. I'm human. Sure I get envious even jealous, absolutely. I don't imply that I am above such base feelings. When I made Stir of Echoes, the thing that struck me most was this guy's fear of being ordinary. I could totally relate to that in my life and just be another actor. I have seen so many guys get hot and be lauded and be told they are the greatest of their generation. Then, they don't get work. They are OUT. After Footloose I was terrified because there were people insisting I had to be 'this' person with 'that' haircut and 'those' jeans . But it wasn't me. I tasted fame and it left a sour taste."

But wouldn't you like that kind of fame again?

"Not that kind of fame. No, if it happens again, it will be on my own terms. I never want to see my career slithering down the pan again. I would like success the way Tom Cruise has made it on his own terms. There is still time. With this movie and The Hollow Man - which cost a fortune - it could happen this year. If not, it won't either way, I shall still be me... the guy who'd sooner be with his wife and kids. I'm not going to change. But show me an actor who doesn't want to be famous!"

Columbia TriStar

Author : Cinema.com