October 18, 2005

Shake n' Bacon

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DAZE: So the obvious question about your new film [Where the Truth Lies] is regarding the NC-17 controversy: Do you think the controversy helps the film or hurts the film?
Kevin Bacon: I don’t think the controversy helps the film. I am shocked and certainly disappointed; I don’t really understand it. When Atom Egoyan went to the MPA and they gave him the NC-17 rating, they made some suggestions about things that he could change and he tried and delivered a couple more cuts and both times they said “No, it’s still going to be NC-17.”
Egoyan then went out to Los Angeles to appeal the rating. He took one of the actresses from the movie and a letter that I wrote, and Colin [Firth] also wrote something, and explained what he had tried to do, that he hadn’t made a soft-core porn, and that it’s a movie about celebrity, not a sex romp. There were ten members of the panel there and twelve people in the room and Egoyan asked who the other two people were and they said they were members of the clergy. There were six votes to overturn the rating and four to keep it, but you need seven votes, two-thirds majority to overturn.
So, the movie is going out unrated. It’s not a kid’s movie. But I don’t think it’s offensive for a 16-year-old. I have a 16-year-old and he watches plenty of stuff like this. But that’s not the point. The point is the movie is now branded. Some newspapers won’t even carry an ad, there are theater chains that won’t run it, there are certain media outlets that I’ve been rejected from based on the controversial nature of the film. But it’s just so misleading in terms of the content: it’s a murder mystery against the backdrop of a 50s musical comedy team. Then a dead girl shows up in a bathtub. I mean, it’s not Emmanuelle 5 [series of legendary 70s erotic dramas].

DAZE: Do you think if the movie came out ten years ago it would have been looked at differently? KB: Well, when was Wild Things made? [1998] Full frontal male nudity and plenty of lesbian action and that was an “R.”
DAZE: So do you think that this is indicative of the shifting times?
KB: Definitely. We live in a time where there is less separation of church and state and the growing conservatism of the media reflects these new times.

DAZE: But NC-17 or not, there is a fair amount of sexuality in this movie. More nudity for the women than for the guys, but did you feel shy about that, or comfortable, uncomfortable?
KB: It’s always difficult to do those scenes and I think that it’s harder for women than it is for men. I try to make the women as comfortable as possible because I’ve probably done more of those type of scenes than either of those girls just by nature of them being young. It’s always kind of uncomfortable but I want to approach that stuff with as much truth as possible, the same way as I would the dinner scene, or the chase scene, or whatever. They’re characters and sexuality is just a part of life. When you’re in a scene it should be telling a story – these sex scenes are not stand-alone encounters. The sex that Lanny has with the publicist at the beginning of the movie is obviously very different from the scene with Alison, when we go home together. And that’s very different from the scene at the end, with Rachel. One is comedic, one is tender, one is very sexual.

DAZE: Atom [Egoyan] is someone who doesn’t make movies in Hollywood and doesn’t live in Hollywood. What is it about the way he views the starmaker machinery that’s different?
KB: He’s making a movie that’s a genre film that he hasn’t done before, content-wise. The fact that it all takes place in the States, with an American character like Lanny, is not something that he’s done before. But I think he definitely gives it his own feel, with a complexity of characters and secrets and a darker side. And there’s a distance that he has from Canada, looking down on America and the Hollywood celebrity; it’s a kind of refreshing naivete that he has. At the same time, you see Lanny and Vince and how they’re moving through the hotel rooms, the lobbies, getting off the planes, how they interact with photographers – and I’ve lived that and it’s like that. Atom definitely captures that.

DAZE: How would you describe the relationship between Lanny and Vince, because it’s such a complex, layered friendship and business relationship?
KB: It’s like a love affair. They’re very, very close and they have a strong connection to each other that is borne out of true affection. When you’re onstage, and I know this from performing in my band, you experience that kind of energy where anything can happen – they had good shows and bad shows and that adrenaline rush bonds you. They’re like brothers. That creates a very right relationship. And there’s this tragic end to that. You see that a lot in bands who break up, and comedy teams who no longer work together; it’s hard to stay together when there’s so much closeness.

DAZE: When you first read the screenplay, was the chronology of events, the way that it’s shown in the film, going back and forth in time and in perspective? Was that how it was written or is that an editing thing?
KB: That’s how it was written. I’m drawn to things that are nonlinear; I like that. I like the twists and trying to figure out whodunit, and the truth is deceiving. I find it to be really challenging as an audience member. Sometimes I’m sitting in the theater and I don’t know what’s going on and I hope I can figure it out. When I do, when I work for it, I find it to be rewarding and more interesting.

DAZE: One of the main things we know about Lanny as a character is that he’s a womanizer. Does he keep women away as a defense strategy to keep them from finding out his secret or is he just opportunistic with what his celebrity affords him?
KB: Celebrity gives you a lot of different perks. “Oh, don’t worry about it,” and you walk out with free coffee. That’s one thing, or maybe you could kill somebody and not go to jail for it. So one of those aspects is sexual play. You see someone’s got a gorgeous girl with him and you say, “I wonder how that happened. Oh yeah, right, he’s a movie star.” That’s just part of their privileges, having a good time; Lanny and Vince aren’t out to kill anybody.

DAZE: The public seems to be more interested in celebrities’ private lives than ever before. How do you feel about that and how the press if picking up on that?
KB: This movie takes place during a time when things were starting to change. In the 70s, you have this journalist who’s willing to put anything into getting her story on what really happened with Lanny and Vince. In the 50s, that never would have happened. There was this iron curtain that blocked celebrities’ private lives, or sports stars’, or politicians’, all public figures’ privacy. You picked up a movie magazine in the 50s, everyone looked great, made up, the photographers were great, the pictures were nice. You pick up a movie magazine now, it’s like he’s picking his nose, this one has cellulite, sagging asses. And even that is really only in the last 10 years as far as I can see. The depths of that desire to see not just celebrities’ private lives, but their flaws, seem relatively new. And I don’t know if that’s a reaction to people finally saying, “I’m sick of seeing these people glorified, they should be shown to be more like us.”

DAZE: Do you think the movie speaks to the danger of that iron curtain that used to exist? About what could have been going on that we didn’t even know?
KB: I go back and forth about that. Because in some ways I think it is a horrible invasion: paparazzi chasing people, screaming at us, encircling us in cars. First off, most of the pictures are so boring, they would never run. The pictures of me are never interesting. Usually, I just happen to be the only celebrity to be out there that day. But, I have no one to blame but myself, right? That’s the life that I chose, I’ve worked my whole life for this, it’s nobody’s fault but my own. For my children, it was something that was thrust upon them. That part is disturbing and an
gers me.

DAZE: Your band, The Bacon Brothers, plays the song “Footloose” and I found it almost ironic that you are embracing something that you have tried to distance yourself from. Is that something you’re okay going back to 20 years in your past?
KB: When I first put the band together I told my brother that we had to embrace the beast. We’re going to get out there and people are going to scream, “Hey, play Footloose!” So we were much more unplugged back then and we just did this unplugged version of it and it kind of made its way into the set and we continued to play it. Just about two months ago I pulled it. As fun as it was, I’m just tired of it. It’s time to move on.

Archived article by Dara Gordon