Kevin Bacon’s highly anticipated new show The Following premieres tonight! Collider had a chance to chat with Kevin about this new role and what attracted him to this show!
Collider: You had been looking to do a television show, but what was it about The Following that attracted your attention?
KEVIN BACON: I was looking for something, but I had been looking for four years. It was not like, “Oh, here it is, I’ll do this one!” I liked this one. This was the one that had the biggest combination of things. It had a great showrunner, and a complex heroic character. I wanted to do something heroic and play somebody that was damaged. And it had life-or-death stakes. That’s what I got for this.
Was it important to you that your do play a damaged hero?
BACON: Yes, especially if it’s going to last a really long time. I don’t know if it’s going to last a long time, but yeah. If a character is evil, bad or whatever you want to call him, that’s the time when I roll up my sleeves and try to find something human or charming or vulnerable about the character. I look for something that is a counterpoint to this idea of being a bad guy. On the flipside, if someone is heroic, you don’t want to make him a superhero. You want to find where the Achilles heel is. In the original pilot that I read, there was no heart thing. And then, Kevin [Williamson] suggested that and I was like, “Yeah, let’s put that in. That’s great! I love that!” That, to me, is what makes his journey interesting, along with the guilt that he lives with and the things that he has suffered through and the fact that he makes mistakes. He makes a lot of mistakes. When the hero is about to screw up, you sit there and go, “No, don’t do that!” When Ryan breaks Joe’s fingers, it’s like, “What are you thinking?!”
Do you enjoy getting to further explore your character through all of the flashbacks?
BACON: Flashbacks can be hackneyed, sometimes. I think that Kevin’s really good at using them to show, not just plot stuff, but other aspects of character. We have a storyline coming up with Annie Parisse’s character, Agent Parker, and she has this pretty dark past that’s taken her in this direction to who she is now. In the present, she’s kind of a wise-ass and business-y, and she seems real together, as an agent. But, it’s cool to have an opportunity, in the flashbacks, to see where she comes from. And for me, it’s like playing another character. Ryan is so much lighter, younger, and more energized in the past than he is in the present. I get to really explore another side to his personality.
Are you more aware of your character’s history than some of the other actors?
BACON: What happened with the backstory was that I wrote a document, based on things I just made up and ideas. The genesis of it was that he once said to me, in a conversation just in passing, “I think Ryan is a guy that’s had a lot of death surrounding him, even before he interacted with Joe Carroll.” That was what I needed to latch on to, and then I was off to the races. I sent the document to Kevin because I just wanted to say, “Am I in the right ballpark? I’m not a writer, but I want to make sure that I’m not thinking about this guy in a totally different way than you’re thinking about the guy.” His almost non-response was an acknowledgment that he liked where I was going with it. Backstory is an interesting thing, in that you put it there and you build it, but how much of it do you use, on a daily shooting basis? Well, you don’t really know. Maybe it plays into it, maybe it doesn’t. I do a lot of details. I go into what people like to eat, their religion and their grandparents, and I do music playlists. You don’t know if it’s actually going to have any kind of influence on the way that you play it, at all. But, if something comes up in the story, in a script, and it’s contradictory to what I thought, it’s not the worst thing. I can talk to Kevin about it and say, “I thought maybe he was like this,” and he’ll be like, “All right, fine.”
Do you enjoy getting to explore a character in the long-term with a TV show?
BACON: Yeah, that’s what you hope you enjoy in television. Now, it’s a bit of an adjustment for me because I’ve always been one of these people that’s like, “Well, I’ve done that guy, so now I’ve gotta do a different guy.” We do 15 episodes, and then we have a hiatus where I can do theater or movies. I’ve got a couple movies in the can with totally different characters than Ryan Hardy, so that’s good. I was just looping R.I.P.D. Even if it was on a looping stage, it was just so fun to step into some other shoes for awhile.
Head HERE to read more of the interview!