Kevin Bacon makes his big-screen directorial debut with Loverboy, a sinister, fairy tale-like story about Emily, a single mother (played by Bacon’s wife, Kyra Sedgwick) who goes to drastic lengths to keep her young son from developing relationships that may threaten their intense mother-son bond. But Bacon is already pondering his next directing gig, and preparing for his next starring role as a father seeking revenge in James Wan’s Death Sentence.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you pick Loverboy as your first feature film to direct?
KEVIN BACON I read the book [by Victoria Redel], and I liked the way that the story was told, in a certain nonlinear way. As you turned the pages, you got the sense that something was not right, that something had happened, but you weren’t exactly sure. And then, during the course of the journey, it took you in all these different directions — sexy, romantic, funny, magical — it’s kind of a schizophrenic book, and that’s part of the appeal.
The film blends together a lot of really disparate styles. Did you envision it that way from the beginning?
I did. Sometimes you read something and you say, ”Well, the writing is good, and I’m interested in this character.” Sometimes you read a piece of material and you start to see it as a film — you see the shot, you start to get a feel for it. And I immediately felt that way with this book. I wanted memory to take a stylized feel — I didn’t want the memories to be 100 percent like reality; I wanted them to be clouded by music and images. For instance, Emily’s memory of [her neighbor] Mrs. Harper [Sandra Bullock] is a very romantic one; it looks and feels very different than those of her parents [Marisa Tomei and Bacon]. And that feels different than the reality of now. That was something I knew I wanted to do from the beginning.
What is your personal opinion of Emily?
Well, that she obviously commits this heinous crime and is very disturbed, but I wanted that to unravel slowly. I wanted us to find her interesting, fascinating, sexy, unique, magical. It’s not a black-and-white kind of story. In some ways, she was a great mother. In some ways. In the end, he has maybe taken away the best of it. I also feel like it’s very difficult to have a movie where you hate the main character all the way through, so I wanted her to be appealing.
Both this film and Losing Chase [a TV movie directed by Bacon] deal with women who reject artifice and social norms. Is that a subject that particularly resonates with you?
I’ve never really thought about it, but I think my mother was that way to a certain extent. We had the crappiest little black-and-white TV with a coat hanger for an antenna. She would never watch it — if I wanted to see anything, I had to go over to my friends’ houses. She always wanted a world where people would create: paint a picture, put on a show, use your hands. A pot dragged out of the drawer could become a musical instrument. And she dressed sort of like a bag lady, and everyone always talks about their mother being a great cook — my mother was a lousy cook. She was unusual in that way. I mean, the huge difference [between her and Sedgwick’s character] is that she was a much more push-you-out-the-door sort of mother.
Your own daughter, Sosie, also makes her debut in the film [playing a younger Emily].
That’s the first film, and it could be the last. I don’t know.
Did she enjoy the experience?
I think she liked it, but I also think she got it out of her system. I don’t think that there’s any big kind of seduction, a once-bitten kind of vibe. She did it, she got it done, she did an amazing job. And I think she had fun, but she was happy to say goodbye and go back to school. We’ve never really encouraged any kind of professional life for our kids — they’re just kids and they need to go to school. If, when she’s 18 or out of college or whatever and she decides that’s what she wants to do, she’ll find her way into it. But this was an unusual situation.
Can you tell me a little about The Air I Breathe? You actually play Love?
[The characters are] Love, Happiness, Sorrow, and Pleasure — these four conditions of human existence, according to Chinese philosophy. It’s kind of hard to describe — you follow one of these stories and it blends into another and then another. It follows the connectedness of these characters. And there’s romance and action, and it has this young director named Jieho Lee — and it’s his vision. It could be good; I haven’t seen it yet. Forrest Whitaker and Brendan Fraser, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Andy Garcia [are in it too].
You’ve also just signed on for Death Sentence, from the director of Saw.
I play a guy whose son is killed, and he — for better or for worse — makes the mistake of taking the law into his own hands. And things kind of spiral out of control. It’s gonna be pretty hard-core action. But I think James [Wan] is a good director, and I think it’s kind of cool that he’s moving away from horror. You have success in one kind of genre of course, in Hollywood, and it’s like that’s what you’re going to do next. Saw II or whatever. And he’s got the guts to say, ”That’s not all I have to offer; I want to do something else.” And it’s a good part for me, it’s the kind of part I was looking for.
What’s up next for you as a director?
I don’t know, but I’d like to do something that’s a little bit more male-oriented. Both of those films had females in the lead and were kind of female-driven stories. So that’s one thing I’d like to do: something geared a little bit more towards men.