Kevin Bacon Talks Fame, 'Footloose' and Losing John Hughes
"Well, you know, Renée's hilarious, and her character has this kind of unflinching optimism in light of all the trials and tribulations that she's going through. And to see her go through man after man, in the search for some kind of a replacement, or some kind of a man in her life - mostly because she needs the money - is just a funny process. Also, the kids are great. It's kind of a relationship between mother and her two sons that you don't often see."
You serve as a catalyst for the action in the film, but do you actually spend much time onscreen?
"No no no, I have a very small part. Basically, just in the beginning and in the end. It's a nice part, because it's small but has a certain amount of resonance. He's not just a cad, not just a bad guy. There's something that's kind of appealing about him, I think, even though [Renée] finds him in bed with another woman at the top of the film."
Watch the 'My One and Only' Trailer
Do you seek out smaller roles, since you have your family and music career to balance, or did something about this specific role speak to you?
"It was funny, it was a real last minute thing. They called me up and said, 'This is about to shoot in two weeks,' or something like that. My first reaction was, 'Okay, who fell out?' The director said, 'Well, to tell you the truth, Alec Baldwin was thinking about doing it,' and I said, 'Well, okay cool, I'll take Alec's sloppy seconds.'
"I'm not just looking for small parts. I've never had too much of a big career plan, I'm sort of going where the work takes me. Rolling along with it."
In that period of American history - in movies and television, at least - men have been culturally more prominent, it's their accomplishments we follow. In 'My One and Only' and 'Mad Men', another popular story from roughly the same period, much of the focus surrounds the women. Do you think this is just Hollywood's attempt to get a new story in its repertoire, or is there a reason we're suddenly so interested in this decade and this angle?
"I certainly think that one of the things that's interesting about characters, women, in the '50s, is that you have the opportunity to see something beneath the surface. Obviously, all people have different layers to them, but women in the '50s had this image of perfection - to be good dressers and polite, and good moms and homemakers. That whole sort of superwoman thing started to come out of that.
"My One and Only' is very much like that. She's incredibly well-mannered and sweet and charming and dresses great and everything is completely in place. Nothing is going to faze her. She's a good mother and a good this and a good that. And yet, she's in an extremely desperate and frightening situation. That's what's going on beneath the surface, and you have to see another side to her, see her work that angle and try to survive."
A deep comedy, then.
"Well yeah, I think it is deeper than some."
Any chance of a 'Footloose' remake cameo for you?
"You know, no one's ever spoken to me about it. Never say never, but... who knows."
Think you could take on Chace Crawford in a dance-off?
"I haven't seen Chace dance, so I'm not going to get myself in trouble with that one."
It's kind of hard to tell who's going to be a flash in the pan and who's going to be around forever. I knew you were in for the long haul after 'Footloose,' though admittedly, I said the same thing about New Kids on the Block. You win some, you lose some. Do you have any sense of the new crop of 20-something actors? Are there any kids you think are still going to be making films in 25 years?
"I don't have a sense of that, and I'll tell you why - I think there are a lot of factors that go into that. One is, some people can be incredibly talented but just don't have the personal strength to survive the slings and arrows. It's so great when things take off for you as an actor, and the chances of that happening are so few and far between. There's also a lot to have to deal with if things do take off. I've seen, in the course of my career, a lot of people who were really great, but they kind of fell apart. That's a hard thing to second guess."
What helped you keep it together? You were in your 20s, still relatively young, when 'Footloose' came out. You've been working steadily since then, but you haven't had a particularly scandalous life.
"I come from a very, very strong family. And I think that I just somehow instinctively knew that I had to find something that was more important than the movies. I think if you make movies or your career - television, whatever it is - your whole life, and that's what everyone's going to want you to do - that when it stops going well, which inevitably it will at some point, then you're kind of left with nothing to keep yourself together. Nothing to fall back on.
"If you really feel like your only family is every family that you create as you step into a new project, then you have to get rid of family after family after family. I think it really starts to take its toll.
"Having real friends, not Hollywood friends, and real family who are not necessarily connected to the industry or your work. Just having something outside of your work, yoga or God or mountain climbing... or a dog... that's what you have to find."
Is that philosophy part of what makes your marriage so successful, especially by stereotypical Hollywood standards?
"Yeah, it is. We make each other and our children a priority. That's the beginning and end of it. And then, once we're coming from that place, we're doing our best and flying all over and traveling, and trying to make the most of our careers that we possibly can. We've never done a thing where we say, 'Well, let's take a year off and just do nothing.' There's never been the case of either one of us. We've always had our eyes on the prize and tried to stay focused. But I think that we do make [our family] the priority."
If you could bequeath the 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' game to someone else, who would you pass the torch to?
"I'll have to think about that. I've never really passed a torch. Maybe the flame just dies.
"You know, it's a weird thing, it really is, that it hung in this long, that people still refer to it. It's weird, but it's great. Somebody gave me a Six Degrees from me to John Wilkes Booth - that was interesting. It actually worked, it was well-researched, people he'd been in plays with who ended up in silent films.
I wondered if you wanted to share any thoughts about John Hughes. In a summer of sad celebrity deaths, this one hit me hardest, personally.
"Aw, man. It's awful. I'd been out of touch with John. He went to his farm and... a lot of people say they're going to step away from Hollywood, and they do it for a year and a half and then they come back. He really just walked away. The time that we spent together was a time that I really cherished. I learned a tremendous amount from him, laughed a lot with him. We would shoot all day long, hour after hour, and then we'd hang out together all weekend.
"The film that we did together ('She's Having a Baby') was, I think, the film that was the most personal to him. The fact that it didn't perform as well as some of his other films was extremely hard for him, because he felt like, 'Okay, I'm doing something now that is truly from my heart,' and in a way, I was really playing him. I saw it referred to once, in his body of work, as a misfire. And not just because I'm in it, I'm extremely proud of it and think it's one of the best things he ever did. It's deeper and it's darker and it's funny, but also very, very moving.
"Interestingly, I wasn't married at the time. I was in a sort of rough period of my life. He really helped me through it. As I moved out of the film, in the next couple years, I ended up getting married and having a baby. The film became this bizarre kind of practice for that chapter in my life."
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