It is almost impossible to sit next to Kevin Bacon in a Los Angeles hotel suite without silently playing the parlor game “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”
Of course, no mention is made of the game-playing during this interview.
From earlier interviews with the actor, I remember that he doesn’t particularly enjoy discussing the game, in which participants see how many links it takes to connect any actor to Bacon through their film roles.
However, it turns out now that Bacon, 49, has made peace with the game named after him, and he has taken a “If-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them” approach by creating a charitable social network called Sixdegrees.org.
Still, he’d rather talk about “Death Sentence,” a “Death Wish”-like action film that opens Friday. Bacon plays an ordinary family man who is driven to vigilante violence after his world is torn apart by tragedy.
Sitting one degree away, Bacon explains why he is playing a reluctant action hero after a string of dark and intense dramatic roles, what he really thinks of his wife’s TV success on “The Closer” and how he assesses his chances of ever being in a Disney film.
Q: You’re known for being Kyra Sedgwick’s husband, Travis Bacon’s father and Michael Bacon’s brother. Don’t you have an identity of your own?
A: No. In fact, if you go to the set of “The Closer,” the visiting directors get a chair with their name on it. I directed a couple of episodes, and the chair they brought out for me said “Kevin Sedgwick.”
Q: You must be very proud of your wife.
A: Oh, I’m thrilled for her. She deserves it. She’s worked so hard. And now she’s working even harder.
Q: I know being separated by work has always been an issue with you guys. How are you handling the separation, now that she’s filming here and you’re in New York?
A: She’s out here about six months a year. I come out about every two weeks. This summer, my daughter’s been out here the whole time.
Q: How does Kyra’s schedule affect your career? You used to alternate movies so that one of you was always home, but now she’s on a TV series with a grueling shooting schedule.
A: In the first year, I stayed home more so the kids would have someone there. It actually affected her more than me. She was feeling so concerned about leaving them. I think it would have been really difficult for her if I hadn’t stayed. Knowing I was home, she could really throw herself into the show. But I’ve been working a lot lately.
Q: How about your group, the Bacon Brothers Band?
A: We played a lot this spring, and I think we’re starting to hone in on some new material for an album.
Q: Why did you end up in acting, and not music?
A: Well, my brother was already working in music, and I took an acting class and fell in love with it. My life just took that turn.
Q: And how did you end up in a revenge movie?
A: Rarely in life do you say: “This is what I’m looking to do,” and then it happens. In this case, I had been doing this cerebral stuff like “The Woodsman” and “Mystic River” and I just wanted to kick some ass. And this script arrived two weeks later.
Q: What happened when you read the script?
A: I couldn’t believe how much emotional depth there was. There was something for me to sink my teeth into. It’s driven by loss and the desire to protect your family. It’s so basic. And the guy’s the opposite of an action hero. He’s a nerd.
Q: You and director James Wan (“Saw”) must have been concerned about the pace of the development of his fighting skills to keep it believable.
A: We were very concerned about that, but I must admit that the character is a pretty quick study toward the end of the movie (laughs). It’s so real in the beginning and gradually, the reality gets heightened. The end of the movie is almost stylized.
Q: Is that OK with you?
A: Yeah, I dig that. I think it’s really interesting, from a filmmaking standpoint.
Q: Why were you in such a mood to kick butt?
A: I don’t know, man. I guess it’s because so many of my movies lately have lacked physicality. I thought it might be fun to run around and shoot people.
Q: Perhaps it was that 50th birthday coming up?
A: Maybe. I’d have to get on the shrink’s couch to find out.