Created, executive produced and directed by Jill Soloway (Transparent) and adapted from the Chris Kraus novel of the same name, the Amazon pilot I Love Dick follows Chris (Kathryn Hahn) and Sylvere (Griffin Dunne), who arrive in Marfa, Texas after Sylvere is offered a fellowship to finish a book he’s been writing on the Holocaust. When they meet Dick (Kevin Bacon), he challenges their preconceptions about love and monogamy, leaving them to look inward at their marriage.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Kevin Bacon talked about the Amazon pilot process, never reading his own reviews, when he first became aware of programming on the streaming service, what attracted him to this project, how he views this character, and where things could go, over the course of the series. He also talked about revisiting Tremors as a TV series for Amazon, and being a part of the directorial debut of his wife, Kyra Sedgwick.
Collider: Typically, if a pilot doesn’t get picked up, people never actually get to see it. So, knowing how Amazon orders a pilot and posts it to see what the feedback is before ordering it to series, how do you feel about that whole process?
KEVIN BACON: I would have liked to have known that we were going to series. Why wouldn’t I? Of course, I would have liked to have known. But, that’s their process. When we shot The Following, we didn’t have a series order. We shot a pilot. They didn’t show it to people. They tested it for the network, but it’s still that thing. In this case, it goes on the air.
Do you want to read what people are saying about it, or do you avoid comments and reviews?
BACON: Yeah, I don’t think I could get into that. I don’t read reviews. I haven’t read them for probably 30 years. I can’t. When they’re bad, they’re really rough, and when they’re good, they’re not good enough. You can always find something to stress over.
It took people a little bit of time for people to catch on to the programming that Amazon offers, but they’ve had some real success now with many of their shows. When did you realize that having a series that could stream on Amazon was a viable option?
BACON: With Transparent. When Amazon put Transparent up, along with Bosch and a few other things, I watched them, and I thought it was an interesting exercise. I didn’t comment on them, but I was like, “Okay, this is kind of cool.” I have another show that’s in development at Amazon, which is a Tremors TV series. To me, it’s a great place to be. I’m thrilled to be at Amazon.
How did this series come about for you?
BACON: I got the call to read it, and Jill [Soloway] wanted to Skype. We didn’t know each other, so we Skyped. Every woman in my life said, “You’d be an idiot not to do this.” And I love Transparent and I love Kathryn Hahn. I think she’s just spectacular. So, I signed on.
Before The Following, you weren’t really doing any long-term TV projects. Were you actively looking for another one, or was it just that everything lined up for this specific project?
BACON: You have to keep in mind that, when I started as an actor, I was never going to do television. I did Guiding Light, and after that was over, I was done with television. I did a year of Guiding Light, and I was going to be a movie actor or a stage actor, but not a TV actor. That just wasn’t going to happen. And obviously, things changed so remarkably. For years and years, people would say, “The business is changing.” And I would say, “The business is not changing. It’s exactly the same as it was in the ‘70s, the ‘80s and the ‘90s.” But all of a sudden, the business changed, and it really did change. Kyra [Sedgwick] did seven years on The Closer, and I saw how satisfying that was for her. So, it was a difficult call for me to make, to say that I’m interested in television, because I felt like, in some ways, I was giving up and that I’d tried to be a movie actor and it didn’t work out, or something like that. That’s where your head goes, as an actor. But I had a really great experience doing The Following, so I was looking. I wasn’t like, “I’ve gotta get a show right now,” but once I did television, there was no longer this thing of, “I’m not going to do that.” And I was certainly thrilled that this opportunity became because it’s not an hour drama. As great as that is, and I like to work hard, The Following was so hard on my psyche and on my body. It was just really hard. The hardest gig there is in entertainment is to be the lead in an hour show, especially if it’s a show that’s blood and guts and fighting. It’s rough. I love to work, but to do something different is really exciting.
And doing a half-hour show has changed because half-hour shows have always been thought of as comedies while hour-long shows are dramas, but this show isn’t a straight comedy.
BACON: No, and leave it to me to find a comedy where the guy is kind of tortured. I love that piece of it. I think it’s a deep show, honestly, and I think it’s going to get deeper and still stay funny.
Have you had conversations about where this show would go, where you would take the character, and what it would look like, on an episode by episode basis?
BACON: We have had conversations, and quite a lot of them. The truth is that, in order to play this character, I need to know where he’s been. I don’t need to know where he’s going. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I hang up with you, but I know everything that’s happened, up until this moment. Jill is extremely collaborative and interested in thoughts and ideas. I have dreams about things and outlines about things that Dick would think about and say, and I can send them to the writers and everybody is thrilled to get that kind of stuff, but Jill has created this writers’ room with a bunch of really brilliant women and they’re gonna take it someplace. I’ll just wait and see where that is ‘cause I really don’t know.
Because this character seems a bit undefinable, at least in the pilot, who is he to you?
BACON: He’s a man at a crossroads. At this time, in this moment of his life, with the introduction of these people to this town and this woman, it’s a seminal moment in his life. There’s a lot of the exploration of the nature of celebrity, and that’s something that I’m interested in because that’s something that I’ve lived with for the majority of my life. I’m a famous person, and Dick is a celebrity in this town. Who he is at that party, and the way that people look at him and hang on everything that he says and does, Marfa is a relatively small pond, but he is the biggest fish there. When you live with that all the time, sometimes it can be great, obviously, but it can have really strange consequences on your own sense of self-worth. You can feel like, “They only like me ‘cause I’m Dick.” I think he is also, in a lot of ways, a very traditional male character in the things that he believes. In the same way that some other insulting names have been redefined and co-opted by certain cultures or sexes, I’d like to redefine what being a dick is.
Where are things at with the Tremors TV series?
BACON: We’re at Amazon. We’re still waiting for a draft, but I’m 100% on board with that.
Since you’re going to be playing the same character and it’s set in the same town, is it a continuation of the story that was told in the movies?
BACON: It’s great. It’s a super cool idea. They went and made a bunch of sequels to the movie. I want to put those aside because, first of all, I wasn’t in them. But what I was really interested in was taking this guy and, 25 years later, seeing what happened to him, to his dreams, and to his life. Andrew Miller, who’s writing the script, came up with this really, really interesting take on it, and I think it could be a lot of fun.
You’ve talked about how you initially saw Tremors as a low point in your career, but then it took on a life of its own and became a classic. Could you ever have imagined that you’d be thinking and talking about it again, so many years later?
BACON: You never know. It did become a real classic. It was also at a time when the VHS was exploding. Movies took on a life of their own. The last thing you wanted, in that point in our industry, was to have a movie go straight to VHS. Tremors did not perform at the box office, but it did great on VHS. When I came up with the idea and reached out to Blumhouse about looking at it again, I looked at the movie, and I don’t look at my movies, at all. I went back and put it up on my screen at home and went, “Wow, this is a really good movie!” I just didn’t get it when I was there and in it. I wrote it off ‘cause it wasn’t a hit, and I really needed one. But, I think it’s a really good movie. It’s unusual and it’s funny. Doing funny scary is something that is rarely good and rarely works, and it’s also something that’s incredibly hard to market. I think that was part of the problem. Funny scary is tough, unless you’re Snakes on a Plane.
You’re also going to be in your wife, Kyra Sedgwick’s directorial debut, Story of a Girl, for Lifetime Television. How did you come to be a part of that? Did she ask you to be in it, or did you ask her to be in it?
BACON: She’s been developing that project for probably six or eight years. First off, she wasn’t attached, as a director. I was really super encouraging of her, and it’s only been a year since I said, “You know what, honey? I think you’ve gotta do this one yourself.” I think she’s going to be an amazing director. There were two possible roles in it – a father part and this other guy that owns a pizza parlor – and I was more drawn to the pizza parlor guy because he’s a little different from other characters that I’ve played, in some ways. I said, “Why don’t I play that part?” And she said, “Okay, I can see you audition next Tuesday.” No, she gave me the part.
The pilot for I Love Dick is available to watch at Amazon.