Kevin Bacon talks about role in new TV drama The Following
Movie star's first TV role is in new series by Kevin Williamson
Anyone who has followed the career of Kevin Williamson should be prepared to jump a little. The first of the iconic Scream franchise made his name in the mid-90s while later penmanship on the likes of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cursed and The Faculty has resulted in cinema audiences getting the bejesus scared out of them. And it’s the same old story with the latest chapter in a patchier TV oeuvre which kicked off in 1998 with the rather lighter Dawson’s Creek right up to current teen horror/soap Vampire Diaries.
Even before you know a single thing about The Following (it centres on an escaped serial killer and the troubled former FBI agent who is back on the case to try and re-snare his man), this Sky Atlantic series is instantly notable for being the first TV show to have Kevin Bacon as its lead actor. This is a man so legendary he’s had a parlour game named after him (Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon).
‘About three or four years ago I realised that there was a trend towards great writing for television,’ states Bacon. ‘All of the things I talk to my friends about were “water cooler” shows like Game of Thrones, The Killing, Homeland and Breaking Bad. So I said, “maybe it’s time for me to throw my hat in the ring and do television?” Within two weeks, I had read three of the best scripts I’d ever read – and they were all TV pilots; all were well written with super cool characters.’
Bacon’s super cool character is Ryan Hardy, a functioning alcoholic (we know this as he goes on a helicopter ride with a pounding vodka hangover) who once wrote a book about Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), the man he helped put behind bars. This charismatic English literature lecturer’s Edgar Allan Poe obsession led to him slaughtering 14 women before taking out their eyes (a reference to the peeper-removing scene in Poe’s The Black Cat).
Within the first half-hour, there’s an astonishing amount of gore as Carroll (possibly aided by some like-minded souls) goes on a bloody campaign of vengeance including brainwashing one heavily tattooed woman to do something unspeakable to herself in a very public venue.
Other than the chance to get a slice of his own ‘water cooler’ telly, Bacon was drawn to The Following for the opportunity to play a multifaceted character. ‘I see Ryan as complicated and flawed, and the lines between being a good guy and not being a good guy will get a little bit blurred,’ Bacon insists. ‘You get a sense of that in the pilot episode, but down the line we’ll see more in his back-story and maybe in the way he handles things that will be a little bit grey. I get offered a lot of bad guys in the movie world and I like playing villains, but I wanted to find something heroic. I get to be heroic in a complex, flawed and damaged way.’
The Following starts on Sky Atlantic, Tue 22 Jan.