The last time South Africans saw Kevin Bacon in a series, it was in the disturbing yet compelling TV offering,The Following.
The award-winning Hollywood actor is renowned for making waves with whatever character he inhabits.
On playing Ryan Hardy in The Following, he says: “You know what, I loved it. It was a hard show to make because it was an hour drama. There was a lot of intensity, you know. Physically, it was very hard. Shooting in New York on two of the worse winters in history; it was cold as hell (laughs).
“But I like those kinds of challenges. I got three years out of it, which is not bad these days.”
Not one to leap from project to project, he explains why he was sold on doing I Love Dick.
Bacon said: “You know, I read the script and loved it. It started off with the title. I knew Jill’s (Soloway) work from Transparent. And I thought it was certainly going to be exciting to be part of her second show. One that she created, with Kathryn (Hahn) attached to it. I didn’t know Kathryn then, but I was already a fan of her work. I wanted something different than The Following. If I got offered another cop or FBI agent role or something in that world, I don’t think I would have done it. This certainly switched it up (for me).”
I Love Dick is based on Chris Kraus’s novel of the same name and Soloway co-created the show with Sarah Gubbins.
The show revolves around Chris (played by Hahn), an artist from New York City, who isn’t as successful as she would like to be, travelling to Marfa, Texas, with her husband Sylvere (Griffin Dunne). Although she is there for a research fellowship, she finds herself drawn to her sponsor – Dick (Bacon). And her infatuation is manifested in undelivered, sexually explicit letters to him.
Suffice to say, her aroused state has a domino effect on the lives of Dick and her husband.
Shedding light on his multi-layered lead character, Bacon said: “When we meet him, the side that we see to him is arrogant, vain and dismissive of her (Chris). And you can kind of see that he has built up some walls around him. I think those walls almost kind of inspire her to keep chipping away and bring them down. And, in the course of the show, there’s an opportunity for those walls to come down and for her, as well as the audience, to discover a man who is a real man.
“He has got struggles. He’s questioning himself. He’s questioning his power, his manhood and his art. He’s wondering about what he is going to do with the rest of his life.”
The veteran actor also pointed out that the best fun was getting to work alongside great actors.
Although he had never worked with Hahn or Dunne, he and Dunne had known each other for a long time.
He said: “I’ve known him for a long time. We have, strangely enough, had parallel careers. We’ve had the same agent. We have been up for the same parts. Our paths have crossed quite a bit. We were long time New Yorkers.”
Soloway’s Midas touch as a creator is to explore issues that don’t sit comfortably with viewers. She’s done that magnificently with Transparent and in this series, too.
Bacon agrees: “I do think it is sometimes shocking. There will definitely be moments when people will become uncomfortable. Even in the pilot, people have told me there are certain things that make them uneasy. I love that. I think that’s a plus for the show. You have to challenge people in television, art, music. At its essence, it’s going to be funny and romantic, even though there’s some pretty overt sexuality dealt with in the show. The sexuality comes from love and desire as opposed to where a lot of the sexuality comes from on TV. It generally comes from violence and rage. That is something that isn’t offered here and I find it refreshing.”
Sadly, our time for the interview ran out, but I could have easily spent several more hours picking his brain. Bacon has a wonderful insight into the industry and what roles work for him. That explains why he continues to make the right kind of waves.
**I Love Dick recently started on Amazon Prime Video. For those not already registered, you can sign up for a free seven-day trial: PrimeVideo.com