Kevin Bacon talks about his low-budget thriller Cop Car: ‘I’m numb to s— blowing up’

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  • August 4, 2015
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Animal House. Friday the 13th. Diner. Footloose. Tremors. JFK. A Few Good Men. Apollo 13. Wild Things. Frost/Nixon. Mystic River. James Gunn’s Super. Yep, Kevin Bacon has one hell of a filmography. But the actor still has a small bone to pick with Hollywood — to whit, the fact that very few filmmakers ever cast him in two movies. “It’s been very rare in my career that someone has come back around,” says Bacon. “I don’t think I’m that hard to work with!”

Then again, the actor is busy enough working with Bacon-virgins. He will soon be seen in Scott Cooper’s Johnny Depp-starring gangster film Black Mass and has also collaborated with Wolf Creek director Greg McLean on the Blumhouse-produced horror film, 6 Miranda Drive. Then there is the thriller Cop Car, which is released in theaters Aug. 7 and finds Bacon playing a corrupt cop whose vehicle is stolen by two kids. The film is directed and cowritten by Jon Watts, who has been chosen to oversee the next Spider-Man movie. So, when Bacon heard that news, did he give Watts a call to hook him up for a role? “I was the first one to call him, actually, just to congratulate him,” he says. “He’s probably going to join the club of directors that don’t hire me twice — which is fine.” 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I liked Cop Car a lot. It’s taut and, at the risk of damning it with faint praise, short.
We’ll put that on the poster: “It’s taut and short.”

It certainly doesn’t waste time with a lot of backstory. We find out a lot about the character of your character in the course of the film, but we learn almost nothing about his history.
That’s what I liked about it too. I used to judge parts on how many lines I had. I’ve come to the realization that that’s not really a good template. I felt like, if we could not explain to an audience who the character is, but let them discover by little things like the way he moves, the way he talks — well, when he finally does talk — the things that he has in his car, the things that he has in his trunk, his relationship to his dogs, it’s going to be more fun to have an audience start to put those pieces together rather than be explained.

Sometimes you read a script and you’re really just looking at the story or you’re looking at the dialog. Cop Car read like it plays. They had a way of writing it in a descriptive, almost poetic, way. I felt like I had seen the film when I read it, and I definitely pictured the character. I knew him. I don’t think it was exactly what Jon was going for. I don’t think this look and everything was what Jon had in his mind. But I had it in my mind, just by reading it. I saw every detail of him. I didn’t even have to reach for it too much. I just got it. And I thought to myself, “Well, if this filmmaker can set up his camera and put on the screen what he put in this 90-page script, I think it’ll be cool.”

You have a lot of solo scenes. What was that like?
Good. When I look at characters, I’m always interested in private moments. When I was in acting school, it was something that we talked about a lot. There’s an actual exercise which comes out of the Strasberg-, Method-kind of approach to acting, where you have to stand in front of the class and recreate a place where you are private and live in private in front of them. Sometimes it would go on for 20 minutes: Somebody would just be sitting there, reading a book, and then getting up and checking something in their teeth, whatever. I didn’t even get it at the time, it’s a very profound sort of approach — private moments are the best way to get an insight into a character.

You worked with James Gunn on Super and his next movie was Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, the director of Cop Car is directing Spider-Man. If I was a filmmaker with ambitions to direct a superhero movie, I’d definitely be hiring you to get that Bacon-bump.
There’s the ticket, there’s the ticket. I was very happy for James and, boy, did he crush that. And I’ll be expecting no less from Jon. I find that, within this world of comic book movies, the incredible ability to deliver things in a computer-generated way has made me a little bit numb to s— blowing up and things happening that a few years ago we would think were so magical. It doesn’t really grab me anymore. What grabs me is when someone in that genre can put in fun, interesting, compelling charcters and story arcs. And Guardians… is a perfect example. “I am Groot” — you’re emotionally connected to that. You can make that movie without any of that stuff and people would still probably like it. But when somebody can actually find that, I think it’s pretty great.

It’s interesting — you think about car crashes, for instance, and the movies that we have of giant cars crashing, we do it all the time. Cop Car has one little thing where the car [leaves the ground going over a hill] and I’ve been in screenings where people are like, “Whoah!” That is the non-stuntiest stunt I’ve ever seen. It’s the oldest [trick] in the book: The camera gets low, there’s a little ramp, the guy drives it up. I mean I could have done it! But because you’re so connected to those kids in that car it hooks you.

You can see the trailer for Cop Car, below.