Interview with Kevin Bacon from The Following

kevinbaconcall211asmallThe Following has been a solid new show from the beginning, and a big part of its success is credited to the brilliant Kevin Bacon.

Kevin plays Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who was the only one who could capture the elusive, intelligent serial killer, Joe Carroll. Hardy is an alcoholic, self-deprecating, but overall such a hero. He’s the flawed hero in all this, and it makes his character all the more appealing that he has so many flaws.

Recently, Kevin took the time to chat with us about why he decided to do TV, what he loves about this show, and basically what makes him tick as far as acting goes. Jump ahead and take a gander at what this incredibly talented and entertaining man had to share.

On dealing with the dark nature of the show

K. Bacon: I find that over the years, as you know, I’ve dealt with a lot of dark material in the movies as well. I think you have to find ways to protect yourself from that, and when I’m on the set, I’m very, very focused. We have to stay focused on our job at hand, and when you’re dealing with things that are of a thrilling nature, tense, ticking clock-kind of vibe, you have to keep yourself in that head space.

But I work real hard to try to turn it off on the weekends if I can and connect with things like my family, my kids, my dog, take a walk in the woods, those kinds of things; you have a good meal. They’re able to pull me out of that head space.

On why it was time for TV

K. Bacon: I had been looking for a television series for a long time and trying to get my head around it. My initial call, if you will, to my representatives was probably three or four years ago. But it just took some time to really find the right one. I had seen Kyra’s experience secondhand and was also finding myself to be more and more of a television consumer. The quality of the shows and the writing just seemed to be getting better and better and better, and I just found myself really knocked out by so many shows and sitting down and spending a weekend watching every episode of The Wire, stuff like that. And then, this one had the qualities that I was drawn to.

On whether or not Kyra guest star on the show

K. Bacon: I don’t think so. I’ll tell you why. I feel like that seems to be a risky kind of—if you’ve noticed, I never acted on The Closer, because I think that when you have a strong character and then you take someone who has a relationship outside of it that people are aware of, you can really run the risk of kind of jumping the shark. It kind of feels like stunt casting. I don’t think she would be interested in acting on the show. You know what? Never say never. Who knows?

[Note from Megan: I don’t think Kyra would be a good guest star on The Following because she’s too recognizable as The Closer, and it would be a little confusing for TV fans. Plus, as Kevin said—it seems like stunt casting.]

On whether the show is in the “horror” genre & why it drew him in

kevinbaconcall211bsmallK. Bacon: Well, I don’t know if I would quite describe it as horror. I mean, I think that we are making a thriller and it’s a tense, fast-paced, exciting thriller that has a lot of moments that are a real surprise, and that’s really what hit me when I was reading the script. Nobody really prepared me. I really, honestly, wasn’t even looking for something on network [television], but they said, “I think maybe this [is] one that you should take a look at.”

So, I found it to be such a page turner and I found it to have so many moments where I just went, “Oh, my God. I really did not see that coming.” You combine that with two other things; one is this kind of giant concept of the idea of this cult that Kevin Williamson has created and just kind of the creepiness of that idea.

And then, to me, the most important thing is that it’s an exploration of these characters and the relationships and the fact that we’re able to go back in flashback and get some insight into why they have become and who they have become. The fact that you meet this guy, Ryan Hardy, and know that something’s bothering him deeply but not learn all the details of that in the first episode is kind of an exciting thing for an actor to be able to peel the layers back.

On Hardy being a kind of follower himself

kevinbaconcall211csmallK. Bacon: It’s interesting that you say that. I’ll tell you what—in one of the episodes, and again, I think this is just a really cool idea from Kevin Williamson, we go back and we meet Ryan when he first meets Joe and before he knows that Joe is a suspect. He’s just interviewing him by happenstance on this college campus. And what you see is that he gets strangely seduced by Joe—not in a sexual way, but just in a friendship kind of way. Joe sees into Ryan and is able to kind of play him like a violin, and there are a lot of qualities of Joe’s that Ryan really admires.

I’m not, when I say “me,” I mean my character, is not an extremely well-read and well-educated man. He’s not a people person. He’s not a charmer. He’s not a dynamic speaker, and he’s maybe not even somebody that you necessarily want to go and have a beer with. And Joe Carroll is all those things. And I think that I look up to him in a strange kind of way. It’s one of the dynamics of the show that is interesting, one that we continue to play with.

On Hardy having a following of his own

kevinbaconcall211esmallK. Bacon: I think that is definitely going to be there and certainly with the “Weston” character. I think the difference is that what you want to see on Ryan’s side is this ability—so, here’s one of the big differences between the two guys.

Joe has followers and believes that he can create more and more people that come around to his way of thinking and likes to be surrounded by people. We’ll see his admirers and the people that are close to him grow, and grow, and grow, and yet, except for maybe a few, he doesn’t seem to really deeply care about those people. They are kind of expendable in a way. It’s one of the kind of sociopathic aspects of his personality.

I [Hardy] have nobody in my life and have pushed the people in my life away, and when Weston comes to me, I don’t want him to be close to me. I don’t want Agent Parker to come into my life. Even with Claire, I’ve walked away from her. I’m very resistant of doing anything other than just being a man alone on an island. And yet, as the show evolves, I think I get more of an ability to let people in, to take help, advice, you’ll see more of that.

And also, the difference between me [Hardy] and Joe is the people that I do let in, the people who are in my life, I care about very deeply, extremely deeply and that’s one of the contradicting elements of the two characters.

On the violence and the criticism by some

K. Bacon: I think that this show is a thriller about a serial killer. That’s what it is, and it’s not a comedy. When I go to—as a consumer of films or television, if you’re telling me that something is a comedy, I’m going to be really disappointed if I go and I don’t laugh. If someone has pitched something to me as incredibly moving, I want real tears coming down my cheeks.

And if something is supposed to be a thriller, I want to be on the edge of my seat. I want to be scared. I want to have chills. I want to be grinding my teeth or turning my eyes or whatever. When we make films and television, we, I think, are doing it to try to tap into something emotional for people and this show is not an exception. That’s what we’re trying to do.

On Hardy’s guilt in this whole situation

K. Bacon: Ryan is nothing if he’s not a guilty person. He’s got a lot of baggage and a lot of that baggage is guilt. Because, as I say, I stopped him, but not before he killed a lot of people, and he has guilt about a lot of stuff even before Joe Carroll came into his life, things that, given the opportunity down the road, we may get a chance to explore. But Kevin Williamson said to me very early on in our conversations, and it was probably the most important piece that I needed to start to put this character together. He said to me, “This is a guy who has been surrounded by death,” and that’s continuing in his life. I think that a part of him feels like maybe he has a piece of that, that he has some responsibility for that, and I think he feels tremendously guilty.

On why he took such a deep and dark role

kevinbaconcall211fsmallK. Bacon: In the scope of a career, I certainly have explored things of a lighter nature. I’m the guy from Footloose. The biggest issue was whether or not the town was going to be allowed to dance or not. Underground worms; this movie, R.I.P.D., that’s in the can. It was really a great thing to do because it’s—I’m playing a sort of, I don’t know how you would describe him, kind of like a zombie-type character, but it was really kind of a fun and lighthearted movie.

So, I certainly like to mix it up. But when I was trying to choose a series, I wanted to be the hero. I wanted the character to be complex and flawed because that’s the kind of heroes that I like to play and that’s the kind of hero that I like to see. I mean, that’s the stuff that performance is made of.

And I found as I was shifting and sifting through stories and pilots that I would really like something, but then I would think to myself, “I don’t know if the stakes are high enough.” I wanted to do something that was about life and death because when I was looking at things that I was kind of drawn to in a series, things like Breaking Bad, and The Killing, and Homeland, and The Wire, even Game of Thrones… A lot of them are about life and death.

On whether or not the Poe masks freak him out

kevinbaconcall211dsmallK. Bacon: They’re kind of creepy, yes. Those Poe masks are—it’s funny because when I saw them in the script, I was like, the guy comes after me with a Poe mask? I said, “I don’t know, that seems a little—what is a Poe mask?” And, then I saw the actual realization of them and I thought they were really, really well done.

[Note from Megan: Those Poe masks are simply disturbing. I don’t like them at all… Gives me chills.]
That’s all from Kevin for now, but be sure to tune into this incredibly well-written and well-presented show, Monday nights at 9/8c on FOX. (Just make sure to leave the lights on 😉 ).

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