Kevin Bacon does not read reviews of his work

Kevin Bacon (right) stars in the Amazon drama series, I Love Dick, with Kathryn Hahn (left).
Kevin Bacon (right) stars in the Amazon drama series, I Love Dick, with Kathryn Hahn (left).PHOTO: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

Kevin Bacon deliberately mixes things up by picking roles, television shows and films of different genres

8Q

If anyone had asked American actor Kevin Bacon a decade ago if he would take on a regular television role again after starring in the soap opera Guiding Light (1952-2009) in the early 1980s, the answer would have been a definitive no.

But the 58-year-old, who is best known as a movie star of iconic films such as Footloose (1984) and Apollo 13 (1995), has taken on leading roles in not just one, but two, TV series in the past few years.

For three years from 2013, he played FBI agent Ryan Hardy in the crime drama The Following (2013- 2015), and now, he plays the titular role of Dick in Amazon's new TV comedy, I Love Dick.

Speaking to The Straits Times in a telephone interview, he admits that his perception of TV has changed over the years.

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"I started making movies in 1977 and I didn't even think about the idea that I would ever be on a television show. Once I finished Guiding Light, I was like, 'I'm done with television.'

"But the business is changing. I started to see that the things that were being talked about now by the water cooler or at a cocktail party, were television shows," he says.

Add to that the fact that his actress wife Kyra Segwick, 51, has also done a successful run playing an intelligent detective in the hit police procedural The Closer (2005-2012) for seven years. "I saw how satisfying that was for her," he says.

Adapted from the 1997 novel of the same name by Chris Kraus, I Love Dick is centred on an unsuccessful film-maker named Chris (played by Kathryn Hahn), who develops an obsessive infatuation with her husband's colleague, college professor Dick.

Dick remains rather mysterious for much of the show, but when he does interact with Chris, he often acts like, well, a d***. For example, in the first episode of the series, instead of consoling Chris, who is upset over the failure of her short film, he tells her straight up that "most films made by women aren't that good".

Bacon says that there is a lot more depth to the character to be discovered later on. "I think if he was just a d***, then I wouldn't be interested in doing it. But he's a complex man and there's a vulnerability and struggle to him," he says.

1 Amazon likes to test pilot episodes with general audiences before picking up a show for a full season. Did you read any reviews for the pilot of I Love Dick when it first aired in August last year?

No, I don't read reviews. I haven't read reviews for the past 30 years. I try to stay away from that stuff. When they're bad, they're really rough, and when they're good, they're not good enough. You can always find something to stress over.

2 In I Love Dick, your character Dick is considered a celebrity of sorts in his small Texas town of Marfa. Could you relate to that?

Definitely. I've been a celebrity for a long time, but I don't really have the chance to play one very often. And Dick is this small-town guy who has created a private kingdom for himself and is admired and watched by everyone around him. What I was interested in exploring was this notion that it looks great from the outside, but there is this part of him that is struggling with the idea that he is undeserving of the adulation.

3 You have done everything from dramas to comedies. Was it deliberate to keep things diverse?

That's what I've been trying to do. The whole thing about being an actor is to do things out of the box.

I think that's a difficult thing to do because people are always trying to put you in a box. So I'm grateful I've been able to work in different genres. When you look at my work, the scripts I get, the roles I do, they are all over the map - I'm grateful for that.

4 Is that why you took on a half-hour comedy series after doing gritty crime drama The Following?

Yes, I was looking to move away from something that was like another hour-long, blood-and-guts kind of thing. It's good to mix it up a little, so this was perfect for me. Also, I'm a fan of the show creator Jill Soloway, who did Transparent (2014-present).

5 There is so much high-quality TV content available now that even the best shows may be watched by only small niche audiences. How do you feel about that?

There really are a lot of products - more than twice as there was 10 years ago. There are also a lot more platforms so, yes, the competition is high, but the bar is also set very high.

But I hope people watch this show. If I get involved in something, it's because I'm serious about it. I have done things that reach wide audiences, such as X-Men: First Class (2011), but I also want to do things that are out of the mainstream.

6 You are reportedly working on a Tremors TV reboot that revisits the character and story you played in the 1990 cult horror flick of the same name. How is that going?

We're still working things out, but I am excited about it. I was interested in seeing how this guy that I played would be doing 25 years later, seeing what happened to him after he became the accidental hero.

7 You star in your wife's upcoming directorial debut, the Lifetime movie Story Of A Girl. What was it like working with her?

I've always wanted her to direct. She's got a really good sense of performance and story and she's considerate about lenses and all that kind of stuff. The fact that she got it done was just wonderful. I was thrilled with that and I loved working with her.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

In a way, there's no part of me that thinks I'm going to be remembered and I don't give a s***. I just want to live my life right here, right now. Maybe I will change my mind later, but right now, I am not worried about things like that.

•Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

•I Love Dick is available on Amazon Prime Video.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'Acting out of the box'. Print Edition | Subscribe