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Interview: You start to believe you can get away with murder; Robin Walker meets the Hollywood star whose film career inspired a cult game.

Byline: Robin Walker

KEVIN BACON is one of those solid character actors who repeatedly delivers eye-catching performances yet never quite manages to become a major box office star.

The 47-year-old American has his own take on the reason for this, observing that, "there are basically two types of actors - performers and personalities". In that case, put him down as most definitely a performer - and a very good one.

Making a forgettable debut in National Lampoon's Animal House back in 1978, Kevin's carved himself a respected niche in the film industry since breaking out of TV roles 23 years ago to star in the classic Diner.

Yet he remains better known for his all-dancing role in the 1984 film Footloose (a part he is yet to live down) and his tendency to star in ensemble pieces like Flatliners and Queens Logic, rather than star vehicles inspired the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon which claims you can link any other actor to the star in six steps or less.

Kevin's latest performance, alongside Colin Firth in the dark drama Where The Truth Lies, shows off the star's range to great effect. The pair play a pair of oddly-matched variety showmen who split after a girl's body is found in their room.

Alison Lohman plays a young journalist who wants to write a book about their real story.

Kevin's character Lanny is the singing, dancing showman, while Colin's Vince is the straight guy. But Kevin reveals that the casting was originally envisaged the other way round.

"The director Atom Egoyan decided it was more interesting if I was the more show-offy type," says Kevin, who also plays in a rock band with brother Michael.

"Although we do some kind of spoken duet, he gave me more of the singing duties."

He looked to classic variety duos like Laurel and Hardy, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and the Smothers Brothers for inspiration"You don't really have these comedy duos anymore. They kind of started back in Vaudeville and went through the 60s and then kind of ended." Playing a well-known performer provided Kevin with a nice contrast to his real life. In reality he and actress wife Kyra Sedgwick keep well away from the Hollywood spotlight, preferring to live in New York with their two children, son Travis, 16, and 13-year-old daughter, Sosie Ruth.

But he knows allabout the pressures of fame: "The idea of playing someone living in such a fishbowl was something that obviously I related to," he says. "Also, very rarely do I get the chance to play an entertainer or celebrity. I'm more used to playing the everyman roles of cop and fireman."

One of the attractions of being famous is people generally want to win favour with you. It means gifts and good restaurant tables, but it can also go to your head. In the case of Lanny it means he believes he can get away with anything, Kevin suggests.

"When you get things for free, you get a pass on the traffic ticket, you also start to believe you can get away with murder, literally. This is sort of what these guys are thinking. They're living by some other moral code."

One of the strong undercurrents in the film is that once fame starts to slip away, then fear can really set in, Kevin says.

"Lanny has this feeling like it's going to end at any minute. His whole sense of self-worth is kind of judged on that.

"That's why sometimes you will find people who will put themselves in weird reality shows or get in the papers by just doing something horrible."

The film got hit with a restrictive NC-17 rating in America because it depicts drug-taking and contains some decidedly un-Hollywood sex scenes.

Kevin says he was surprisedby the rating, but he suspects censors had an issue with one particular scene.

"The scene in question was an emotional and dramatic scene, about the end of the partnership. The MPAA said 'it's not because of the homosexual elements'. To me that makes me wonder if that really was the issue."

"I just don't get it," he says. "It's the old story that there is a double standard in terms of violence and sex. You can get away with a lot more violence."

Having featured in hard-hitting dramas like Mystic River and The Woodsman, Kevin knows a thing about playing dark characters.

That dark side is what he loved about working with Colin Firth, who normally plays a soppy or stiff-lipped Englishman.

"Colin's a lot of fun to be with. He has got a darker side to him than most people know which I think comes out in the movie. He's a lot of fun."

While he enjoys his dark roles, what Kevin would really like to do is play the male lead in a big romantic or action blockbuster.

"I call it the bitter season because year after year I've seen it come and go and not been a member of the club," he admits. "I read parts I don't get. I think it's a killer part and I'll knock it out of the park but there's 20 other guys who feel the same way.

"How I feel changes day to day. But I'd still like to play the hero who saves the day and gets the girl."

Not that he'd forsake a choice dark part for the sake of any image, Kevin counters. He hasnever been worried what people will think of him in a particular role.

"If playing a role (like the paedophile in The Woodsman) could have a negative effect on my public personality, I don't care. I'll play anything if I think there's something compelling or a director I'm dying to work with."

He does direct and star with Sandra Bullock in the upcoming romantic drama Loverboy, but it's another independent film that's probably only going to getlimited release. He'll also star in the heart-warming family drama Saving Angelo.

Being married to another working actor means they have to get used to seeing each indifficult scenes on screen, admits Kevin.

Kevin met Kyra, currently starring in American cop drama The Closer, on the set of the TV series Lemon Sky. They have starred together in a number of movies since, most recently in The Woodsman.

"The Woodsman was probably the most extreme sex scene Kyra's done," says Kevin. "I'veseen her in movies where she has gotten her head smashed into a table and I've seen her kissing another guy.

"I'd rather watch her kiss another guy than get beat upp WHERE The Truth Lies opens on Friday, December 2

CAPTION(S):

With wife Kyra Sedgwick; Alongside Colin Firth, in Where The Truth Lies; Bacon says: 'I'm more used to playing the everyman roles of cop and fireman
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 26, 2005
Words:1135
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