DETAILS: You've played a lot of bad guys, most recently in the comic-book satire Super and the latest X-Men movie. What's so great about going to the dark side?
Kevin Bacon: I never go, "Oh, I want to do it because he's the bad guy." I can't stand badly written bad guys or guys who are just miserable pricks. The character in Super is just such a sociopath, I found it amusing. And Jean-Claude Van Damme had been offered the part. To pick up Jean-Claude Van Damme's rejects was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
DETAILS: How did X-Men come to you?
Kevin Bacon: Totally out of the fucking blue. I didn't even know they were making the movie. I was in L.A. and they called me up: "Drive over to the Fox lot. You're going to have to sit in the office and read. And you can't take it with you. If you want it, it's yours." It was the office of one of the executives on the movie, and his secretary was there. She handed me the script. After I read it, she said, "Whatdja think?" [Laughs]
DETAILS: Was a comic-book franchise something you'd always wanted to do?
Kevin Bacon: I don't either seek out a genre, nor do I limit myself to a genre. If someone came to me today and said, "It's a horror movie, but it's a really fuckin' good horror movie and it's a great part," I'd be there. I've done horror movies. The only thing that I'd done that came close to being a comic book was Hollow Man, in that it was an effects-driven movie.
DETAILS: Did that prepare you for the challenges of X-Men?
Kevin Bacon: Totally. Hollow Man was really hard. I thought this would be an easy gig because I wouldn't have to show up. But Paul Verhoeven wanted my shape, and he wanted the other actors to be able to play scenes with me. So my whole body was painted green or blue or black, because I was the green screen. I had giant green contacts—they hurt like hell—and green dentures. At one point, the character makes a latex mask of himself, and we shot for a couple of months with this thing glued to my face. I could only drink through a straw.
DETAILS: So comparatively speaking, X-Men was a walk in the park.
Kevin Bacon: Yes. But I'll say this—Michael Fassbender and I were doing this very climactic, emotional showdown, and we were completely surrounded by green. There were guys standing next to us dressed like it's St. Patrick's Day, and after about two or three days of shooting that scene, I was struck by the fact that actually delivering a good performance in one of these situations is really hard, and it makes me admire those actors who can—Johnny Depp does a lot of things like this. Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. Robert Downey. It's being able to hold on to what you hold on to when you're shooting My Dinner With Andre.
DETAILS: You've lived in New York City your entire career. Has that helped or hurt you?
Kevin Bacon: I couldn't have done it any other way. I got here at 17—suitcase and a dream—and thought, "Okay, now I feel at peace." When you live in a place that's so industry-driven like L.A., your own self-worth sometimes will be determined by the factors that are always in your face—the posters, the waiter with the script to give you. It's been nice to have a buffer. I was a real pussy about L.A. for a long time. I was like, "I'm afraid. I don't know how to get anywhere. I don't like to drive." And I can still fall into that. The downside is when someone says, "You've got 10 minutes to get over to the studio because they want to meet you." Not living in L.A. is a dumbass move from a career standpoint.
DETAILS: You've made a lot of unpredictable career moves, like poking fun of yourself as the world's biggest Kevin Bacon fan in the current Logitech campaign. Is there a plan?
Kevin Bacon: People come up with these rules. "You can only do commercials that run in Japan and Europe." Fuck you! Who made that law? After Footloose I was on a sort of downslide, and my people were recommending that I only do movies when my name was above the title. But I had an agent who said, "Let's do JFK," and that's what we did. Four days of work. Was not even close to being my movie.
DETAILS: But you made a mark.
Kevin Bacon: It turned things around for me. From a career standpoint, but also from a personal standpoint, because it's when I said, "That's what I want to do—I want to act. I don't have to be the lead."
DETAILS: How do you feel when people refer to you as a character actor now?
Kevin Bacon: Great! I play characters.
DETAILS: Is there one you like best?
Keving Bacon: I don't know if this is a cheeseball thing to say, but I don't watch my movies. So they become personal bookmarks for other things. When I think of Tremors, in a very short amount of time I've gotten engaged, gotten married, my mother's gotten cancer, my career is in the shitter, my wife is nine months pregnant with our first child, and I am terrified. That's Tremors.