Is Kevin Bacon the Center of the Universe?
"Yeah," Bacon says, "if you're fucking a model, that kelps your career. To be married to the same person for eight years is, if anything, something they think you should avoid talking about."
"Are you sorry that you and Kyra got married before you had your time to fuck supermodels?"
Bacon starts to laugh. "I'll tell you, I have a theory about that. My theory is that any idiot can get laid when they're famous. That's easy. It's getting laid when you're not famous that takes some talent."
"Talking about talent, you're an actor, you're a director, you're a rock star..." I am referring to the band that Bacon and his brother, Michael, have formed, aptly named The Bacon Brothers.
"Not a rock star." he corrects me, "just a rocker."
"I have to say I'm very uncomfortable with actors who are in bands. I don't think I've interviewed anyone in the past several months who wasn't in a band. Bruce Willis, Lou Diamond Phillips.
"Do you feel the same way about rockers who want to be actors?" he asks.
"I think that's worse. Personally I would be willing to lose the entire rain forest if there was a guarantee that I'd never have to see Sting in another film ever."
Bacon smacks my hand. ""I've been blessed to have an acting career, and I'm eternally grateful, but the real secret obsession I had was to get up and play rock and roll. When t was a kid, my heroes weren't actors. I never went to the movies, or hardly ever, and if I did it would be maybe something where I could catch a glimpse of titties or a horror movie. To this day, if I meet an actor, it's really not that big a deal for me. But if I met Wilson Pickett. I'd shit in my pants. But, believe me, I'm not gonna give up my day job."
"Do you play original songs?"
"A lot of original staff we've written," he says. "But we do some covers too. 'Don't Look Back' by The Temptations. 'I Want You Back' by The Jackson 5. And we do 'Saturday Night at the Movies,' which we wrote another verse for."
"Sing it," I demand.
With the sweetest voice. Bacon starts to sing, "There's lots of sex and violence too, to keep us coming back. And if you get a big bucket of butter corn, yon might have a heart attack. If you don't like long, long lines, spending lots of dough, you can wait a month or two and see it all on HBO."
I am clapping.
"As an encore, we do a little song called 'Footloose.'"
My surprise is apparent.
"I figure I have to embrace the beast. When that fucking movie came out, for the next 12 years of my life, every time I'd go to a wedding, a bar mitzvah, or a club, the disc jockey would put it on, at which point people would form a circle around me and start to clap in unison, expecting me to start flipping and performing tricks like a trained monkey. I've gotten to the point where I'll go up to the guy and I'll say, "Here's 20 bucks, please don't play that song." But the thing is, I love that record. I think the songs are great."
"Is there anything different about your band?"
"The thing I think is different is that we joke around and laugh and tell jokes. Most bands are really hostile, there's a threat to it. And we don't have that."
"I agree. I doubt the Stones would have been so popular if they were user-friendly. What's the biggest gig you ever played?"
"We opened for Three Dog Night at the Meadowlands [in New Jersey]. I didn't think it was going to work out well, because there were no bathrooms and the trailer was being used by 10-year-old tap dancing girls. There were pig races going on and I thought, what the fuck did I get myself into? But the people were really responsive."
"So what's next, movies or music?"
"I just finished a movie tailed Picture Perfect, with Jennifer Aniston. It's a romantic comedy directed by Glenn Caron, the guy who did 'Moonlighting.' The movie is built around Jennifer."
"So are you 'the guy,' like they always say that any woman in a film is 'the girl'?"
"I guess I am. I'm son of her dreamboat. But then she realizes that maybe I'm not who she really wants. He's a fairly successful mid-level advertising guy who is very vain -- vanity is at the core of this character. He's incapable of having a relationship with some-one who is available. He's only interested in sleeping with women who are either married or have boyfriends. That's his flaw."
"Wait, I know him."
"I'm sure you do. Every woman who read the script felt like she knew him."
"Are you very vain?"
Bacon nods. "Yeah, uh-huh, definitely. Absolutely. Actors are by nature vain people. Aside from looking good, vanity is about wanting to be watched, wanting to be seen. Actors who deny that are totally full of it. I think that's really fundamentally what drives them into being actors. Now, that said, in my own work I'm not afraid to be ugly. I only want to look good if I think it's part of who the character is, or part of the story we want to tell. In The River Wild, for instance, my character's not a nice guy, but he should look good. Because you have to sort of be seeing him through the Meryl Streep character's eyes. He's a prick, but he should look good, because you had to know what drew Meryl to him. In Sleepers, no, the guy did not need to look good. And Barry made sure that the camera angles were unflattering."
"So, Kevin, what's with the Band-Aids?"
"Cuts," he says, smiling. "I'm helping this kid build a tree house for my kids. He's 16 but he's the contractor and I'm just the help. I am not very good at it, obviously, so I keep getting hurt. And when you have kids, they make you put a Band-Aid on every single little nick."
And with that, the center of the universe lays a $20 bill down on the table, bids me farewell and jumps in his car to go home to his family.
Martha Frankel interviewed Bruce Willis for the August issue of Movieline.
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