Flawed-hero role lured Kevin Bacon to ‘The Following’

FRESNO, Calif. — Film actor Kevin Bacon has wanted to make a move to television for the past three or four years. Once he started looking into what was available, he was surprised at the quality — particularly the new dark crime drama "The Following" by Fox.

It was intriguing enough to get Bacon to jump to the small screen.

"I initially had really thought that it was going to be on cable," he says. "And I read this one and I could not put it down. It was just such a page turner. I thought it was such an interesting character.

"And given the fast paced, kind of heart pounding nature of it, it still had a lot of great heart and a certain kind of almost sentimentality that I really responded to."

Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, a life-weary, retired FBI agent who's called back to duty when the serial killer (James Purefoy) he stopped as his last case escapes from prison. The pair begin a battle of wits and wiles as Hardy tries to stop the killer and his loyal group of followers, who commit murders with "raven-ous" glee inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.


The story was compelling, but it was the character that sold Bacon on the series. He likes that Hardy is physically, emotionally and mentally damaged to the point he almost can't function.

"I wanted to play the hero because it felt like I had been playing a lot of bad guys in the movies. There's less movies being made and sometimes those that have heroes are from comic books. Those kind of heroes don't have a lot of flaws and that's not me. I'm the kind of guy who tends to be drawn to roles that are regular guys," Bacon says. "If I was going to play a hero in the show, I needed to know what his flaws were going to be."

The role had to be good because Bacon's natural instinct is to not be tied down to a part that theoretically could go on for years. He describes the life he and his acting wife, Kyra Sedgwick, have as being like "carnies" who go from job to job to job. The work on "The Following" has been satisfying, but Bacon's still not sure that he likes the more sedimentary life of being a TV star.

This is Bacon's first starring role in a TV series, but he's well aware of the long hours and hard work ahead of him because he experienced the TV world through Sedgwick, who starred in the cable series "The Closer" for seven seasons. Bacon got a first-hand peek when he directed four episodes of his wife's cable crime drama.

While Bacon's best known for big films like "Footloose," "Tremors" and "Apollo 13," his resume is filled with a lot of smaller, independent movies, something that made the transition to TV easier. The rapid rate those movies have to shoot, because of limited budgets, helped prepare Bacon for daily filming for the TV show.

He likes working at a rapid pace.

"I think it's kind of exciting. It requires, in general, more instinct and less preparation. I had a lot of time to prepare for the pilot, but on an ongoing basis, you've got to really be thinking on your feet," Bacon says. "I think that, as an actor, rehearsal work, homework is all really great stuff but I think that if you really have a good sense of who your guy is and you've really done the work on who that person is, you should be able to just be thrown into a situation and be true to who your character is, to be able to walk in those shoes at a moment's notice.

"That's what we do all day and it's exciting. So a lot of scenes, long days, I was ready for that. It's kind of a thrill ride"




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