Kevin Bacon struck up a lasting friendship with David Koepp over 20 years ago on the set of Stir of Echoes (where the later served as screenwriter and director). The duo recently re-teamed on the twisty supernatural shocker You Should Have Left, now streaming everywhere.
Dread Central was lucky enough to score a sit-down with Bacon. In addition to You Should Have Left, we got something of a career retrospective, touching on Friday the 13th, Tremors, and Flatliners. Dive in below the trailer and synopsis for You Should Have Left.
In this terrifying, mind-twisting tale, a father fights desperately to save his family from a beautiful home that refuses to let them leave. Theo Conroy (Bacon) is a successful middle-aged man whose marriage to his much younger actress wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) is shredding at the seams, frayed by her secretiveness, his jealousy, and the shadow of his past. In an effort to repair their relationship, Theo and Susanna book a vacation at a stunning, remote modern home in the Welsh countryside for themselves and their six-year-old daughter, Ella (Avery Essex). What at first seems like a perfect retreat distorts into a perfect nightmare when Theo’s grasp on reality begins to unravel and he suspects that a sinister force within the house knows more than he or Susanna have revealed, even to each other.
Dread Central: In You Should Have Left, your character is married to an actor and what sets off all the drama hearing her in a sex scene. It got your character thinking, “If she can fake it with him she can fake it with me.” Since you ARE married to an actor I was wondering if that was something you and Kyra Sedgwick can relate to?
Kevin Bacon: Yeah, I mean, I think being married to an actor has its challenges. Now if it’s specifically faking it in a sex scene, I think that’s a way to kind of drive home how it’s a little more complex than that. When you go off to work, as you know, you work in these very intimate settings, you’re there for really long stretches of time, you’re in emotional types of situations and close contact with a lot of people, sometimes you’re on location in hotels, and on top of that, everybody always refers to the crew like “family”. You hear that a lot. So, if you’re in a marriage and you happen to deal with that, it can be challenging. You don’t know these people you don’t have the same kind of relationship with. The person comes home and says, “Oh wow, I can’t believe Jimmy said that,” or whatever. That’s why we very specifically wanted [the character of my wife, Amanda Seyfried) to be an actor, to lay in that paranoia, as well as the fact that she’s younger than him, way younger, and he is a man filled with a lot of doubts, paranoia, at this point in their lives. He clearly loves her, and it seems like she loves him, but these nagging doubts are eating away at him.
DC: It’s almost impossible not to see aspects of You Should Have Left as a metaphor for the Coronavirus pandemic, right?
Kevin: We certainly didn’t know there was going to be a pandemic when we made the film, but the idea that people are stuck in a house, and the amount of time you spend in the house, the house can kind of take on its own character, it’s certainly something I think people can relate to at this particular time.
DC: Yeah, it makes it very timely, whether it was intentional or not. You Should Have Left was a reunion for you and David Koepp, 20 years since you two did Stir of Echoes together. What made you guys want to work together again and did you have the same chemistry this time around?
KB: I wanted to work with David from the day they said wrap on Stir of Echoes. He was busy with a lot of other stuff, I was busy with stuff but we did stay friends which is pretty unusual in this Hollywood life, where you keep a real friend long after the movie has wrapped. I was always saying, “Come on man, let’s go make something contained, in the same kind of genre as Stir of Echoes, we did it well the first time around.” One of the blessings of this project was developing it with him. He’s such a fantastic writer, and to work and collaborate with him is amazing. I love his eye, his attention to detail and it was a great process. I think we have a real shorthand that comes from both having made one movie but also being friends for so many years. He just wrote a great book, a short story I guess you would call it, or novella, called Yard Work that I read for Audible. It’s a creepy, fun, scary kind of thriller and I got to do the audio book for it, so that was fun.
DC: Let’s do a little career retrospective while I’ve got you here. Friday the 13th is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. When you made the film in 1980, did you have any idea you were participating in what would become a cultural phenomenon?
KB: Absolutely not, no. Look, in 1980 I needed a gig. It’s not like I had a lot to choose from. I was doing a lot of theater in New York and I got this audition, got the part and the film was shot in Blairstown, New Jersey, which was on the other side of the George Washington bridge, and for the most part I was able to shoot and run back to the city, to the village, to do plays. I kind of thought it would come out, find its little niche on the first weekend, the horror audience and bang, it was so successful. And you could tell me how many Friday the 13th’s they made, a lot.
DC: 12 if you count Freddy vs Jason and the remake in 2009. So, let’s jump to the 90’s and Tremors, another franchise that is still kicking out sequels. We all heard in 2018 that you made a pilot or made for TV movie but we never got to see it. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened?
KB: I looked at that character [Valentine McKee] and thought to myself, “You know, this is probably the only character I have never played that I want to really go back and see what’s happened to him.” He was such a fascinating character to me because he’s such an ordinary man; not that smart, not that special, and yet he had this extraordinary circumstance that he had to sort of step up to the plate for. I thought to myself, “If you take that away, if they just went away, those worms, what does a guy like that do? The rest of his life has now really become uninteresting,” so exploring that I thought would be fun. We made an excellent pilot outside of Albuquerque, recreated the town, had a really great cast, director and writer and to this day I still don’t understand why they didn’t want to move forward with it. It’s a real head scratcher for me. If I honestly thought the pilot was shit then I’d say we just didn’t crack it but it was cool, and that’s a really hard balance to get, between funny and scary, as you know, that’s the sweet spot. Tremors was good at that, as were Shawn of the Dead and Get Out. But yeah, it was for a series, not a TV movie.
DC: Well, hopefully something else will come of it; we’re all huge fans and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it will see the light of day. Let’s stick in the 90’s for a second because I’ve always been a huge fan of Flatliners. We recently did a little expose for film’s 30th Anniversary [link below]. It was a great film, had such great aesthetic, but they really bungled the reboot a couple of years ago. I was curious, if someone came to you and said they wanted you to produce a legitimate sequel to Flatliners, what approach would you take?
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KB: That’s a really good question. I don’t know but I could tell you that to me, the most interesting element of it was having things in your past you regret come back. And we also deal with that in Stir of Echoes and You Should Have Left. Those are interesting topics so I think I would probably lean into that. But it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Flatliners, probably since it came out, so I’d have to see it again first before I’d have a really good take on it.
DC: You should look back on it, you don’t have anything to be ashamed of there. I think it’s aged very well. It’s definitely of an era but story wise it’s solid and the acting is top notch all around.
KB: I seem to remember there was a lot of hair.
DC: All of you guys had a lot more hair back then! So, let’s circle back to You Should Have Left a bit because one of your most recent horror flicks was The Darkness, and that film was also about a family facing off against a supernatural power. Are you attracted to that kind of story, a family in peril sort of horror troupe?
KB: I like family movies. I like family dramas, movies like Ordinary People you know. There is actable stuff there. The reason that horror excites me is you have this life or death situations people are in and there can be a lot of room for emotional extremes. Also, as an actor, you have the challenge of trying to temper and modulate your level of fear and terror. It can’t be all one note and that can be a real challenge. Challenges are something that draw me as an actor and certainly that is what these films have afforded me, these challenges.
DC: You mentioned Shawn of the Dead and Get Out. What are some other recent horror movies that have made an impression on you?
KB: One of my favorites is pretty obscure but if anyone has ever seen it it’s probably you; it’s called One Cut of the Dead. The thing about One Cut of the Dead is that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it and it works on a few different levels. The friend of mine that turned me on to it said, “Ok, whatever you do, you’re going to think I’ve recommended the worst movie ever for you… but, I don’t want to spoil it. Just hang in there!” And I’m so glad that I did. I would say it’s a little more funny than it is scary maybe but it’s also this really kind of a loving look at the genre and low budget film making, things that I can really relate to. So I think that’s a pretty cool one.
DC: It was fantastic, I’ll agree with you there. So, is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? Anything you’d like to share specifically about You Should Have Left?
KB: I guess just that I also want to mention the child, Avery Essex, who is in it: she’s amazing. David did a great job with the little boy who was in Stir of Echoes. He’s very, very good with kids and is able to create a safe working environment for children, which I think is much more important than making a good movie, but also getting this amazing performance out of her and kids. She’d never acted before, been in a movie before; she might have done some commercials or something like that, but she was pretty remarkable.
DC: Well, that’s great to hear. They always say, “Don’t work with animals and kids,” but I’ve heard plenty of examples of people saying that the opposite is true, that with a great director and great young actor you can really do some amazing things. And you’re absolutely right, Avery was fantastic. Well, thanks again Kevin, I really enjoyed You Should Have Left and I hope everyone checks it out.
KB: Thanks man, appreciate it.
Are you a fan of Kevin Bacon? Have you seen You Should Have Left? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.