Up Close and Personal With Kevin Bacon

The celebrity dad (and self-proclaimed gypsy) talks about how he balances it all

Photograph by WireImage

If someone were to ask us who our favorite celebrity dad was (and let's be honest, we really mean hottest), Kevin Bacon would be way up there. The dad to two (Travis, 23, and Sosie, 20) and husband to the equally cute Kyra Sedgwick has been making us swoon for years. From Footloose to She's Having a Baby, he's starred in classics that constantly rank among our favorites.

The 54-year-old actor is currently starring in The Following as Ryan Hardy, a semi-retired and very world-weary detective who gets the call to duty when the murderous mastermind he put away 10 years ago (played by James Purefoy) escapes and goes on a killing spree—one that inspires many, many copycat acts. Sounds fun? It is.

We caught up with the journeyman actor to chat about getting into anti-hero mode, what made him decide to do TV now—and why we won’t be seeing his wife of nearly 25 years on the show.

You’re known for your work in big screen hits like Frost/Nixon, Mystic River, and X-Men: First Class. What made you want to do TV now?

I'd been looking for a television series for a long time and trying to get my head around it. My initial call, if you will, to my representatives was probably three or four years ago. But it just took some time to find the right one. I had seen [my wife] Kyra's experience secondhand and was also finding myself to be more and more of a television consumer as the quality of the shows and the writing seemed to be getting better and better and better. I just found myself really knocked out by so many shows in sitting down and spending a weekend watching every episode of The Wire. Stuff like that. And then this one had the qualities that I was drawn to.

MORE: January Jones Talks Parenting

Is TV everything you thought it would be?

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. 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. 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. 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.

The pace of TV can be intense. How do you guys balance it all?

[Doing the show] wasn’t a family decision. If anything, that’s one of the most frightening things about it for me—the fact that I was going to be staying in one place. If it ends up that we go on for some years, that’s not something I’m used to doing. I’m used to going from here to there to there to there. Even though we have a rhythm and a really strong central family vibe, we also are gypsies. We always have suitcases packed and we’re not used to a steady gig. So that was a real adjustment for [Kyra] on The Closer and I think it will be for me as well. When she took the pilot for The Closer, I remember us having the conversation and we kind of said, "Listen, you know, it’s kind of overwhelming to think that you’re going to sign up for something for six years, but that never happens." Rarely does anything go that long. But there we were seven years later and she was still chugging away on that. So you have to figure out if that’s a place that you want to stay in for a good amount of time. I felt like the continuing exploration of this guy and what is eating at him and what makes him tick was something that would be interesting to explore from a character standpoint.

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