Kevin Bacon on filming in Wales and his eerie moment of life imitating art
US star Kevin Bacon tells Kerri-Ann Roper about filming a horror movie in Wales and why the genre was one he wanted to tackle
KEVIN Bacon is reflecting on what he says have been some of the “most quietest nights” of his life, a tranquillity he found while filming his latest movie, a psychological thriller, in Wales.
The 62-year-old Hollywood star spent a portion of his time filming You Should Have Left in a holiday house in the Welsh countryside, near the village of Llanbister, an hour inland from Aberystwyth.
“I loved Wales,” he says via a Zoom video interview. “The writer/director David Koepp set the film in the Welsh countryside in a modernistic house, and I thought to myself I’ve never been to Wales, I don’t know if that house actually exists there. And sure enough we found it.
“And once we saw the pictures of it we were like ‘OK, there’s no other place we can shoot this’ and it was everything I had imagined you know, incredibly beautiful, rolling hills, a lot of sheep and very, very interesting and changing weather.
“Some of the most quietest nights I ever spent in my life were in Wales, and I had a great time.”
Despite immersing himself there for filming, the Footloose star isn’t about to start trying to go native.
“I can’t do a Welsh accent at all, I would not even approach it. But it really is a beautiful language.
“There’s a scene in the movie, it’s actually pretty funny, where my character goes down into the village and the shopkeeper says something to me and I say ‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak Welsh and he says, ‘That was English.’”
The film is not a first-time collaboration for Koepp and Bacon, who worked together on 1999’s Stir Of Echoes. In You Should Have Left, Bacon plays Theo Conroy, a wealthy man with a past, who is on his second marriage, to a much younger actress named Susanna, played by Amanda Seyfried.
The couple decide to take a much-needed holiday to Wales and their stay in what appears to be an idyllic house takes a terrifying turn.
“I think that I love the genre of horror,” Bacon says by way of explaining why he chose this particular job. “I’m a little bit more drawn to the scary movies in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Don’t Look Now and Get Out – that are a little bit more on the psychological side of things than the slasher, you know, Friday the 13th…”.
“And David and I had made Stir Of Echoes 20 years earlier, and I’d always been talking to him and we’d remained friends and we’d always been talking about doing something else in this kind of world and finally, after chipping away at him, he finally wrote this thing, and we got a chance to make it.
“I like the genre because it’s very heavy character work, it’s a complex character, it’s an interesting character and there was good stuff for me to play.”
The film is based on the 2017 book of the same name, written by Daniel Kehlmann, and Bacon says the idea of Theo as a character had been percolating for some time.
He explains: “In the case of this film it started with my wife [actress Kyra Sedgwick] and I having a conversation about scary movies and developing a scary movie.
“And she said ‘Why don’t you do a scary movie that’s around a marriage? I didn’t really know how to take that," he adds, laughing. "But I then brought that up with David and we started to knock that idea around, so when I finally read the character of Theo it was something that we had discussed like for hours and hours.
“I like the idea that it was a guy who feels like he’s on the precipice of losing his power and I think you see that a lot with men.
“You know our power, whether it be money or status or sexual power, becomes this super-important thing to us and when you get to a certain age and it starts to kind of wane, I think that’s a very, very interesting age to explore and that’s exactly what we wanted to do with Theo.
“As well as the idea that there’s things that he has in his past that he hasn’t faced yet and the question of how and when and why and where does redemption come from, where do you find forgiveness for the things that you’ve done that are wrong”.
Shot between Wales and on sets in London, the actor also recalls a weird event that happened during filming.
He explains: “It’s a rented house in the film, and I’ve stayed in countless rented houses and apartments in the course of my career because I travel and have to go to a town and shoot some place.
“There’s a great moment when I notice when we first get there that there’s all these picture frames on the walls with no pictures and there’s just something that’s kind of unsettling about that.
“When I moved into my flat in London, for the shoot, because we did a lot of it in Wales but we also did a lot of set work in London, sure enough there was a whole wall of empty pictures, just hooks on the wall.
“I took a video and sent it to David and said ‘This is life imitating art’”.
You Should Have Left is out now on digital download, DVD and Blu-ray.