Kevin Bacon talks manhood, female sex fantasies and 'I Love Dick'

After hundreds of interviews about his new movie 'I Love Dick' Kevin Bacon still has plenty to say

Kevin Bacon stars in 'I Love Dick' a new show from Amazon in which a married couple's relationship is put to the test when both the husband and wife fall for the same male professor. Video: Amazon Prime Video

 

In most hands, a 10-minute interview with a star about a new TV comedy can feel undercooked. Unless, of course, you are talking to Kevin Bacon, who will deliver what you need in nine minutes and 36 seconds, with the words practically ready to hop on to the page just as they are.

He sounds tired after doing about “three or four hundred interviews” on the promotional trail for I Love Dick – streaming on Amazon Prime Video – but he soldiers on and talks about the many layers of masculinity Dick (in more ways than one) exudes.

“I try to approach things with as much truth as I can, but the truth is to stay true to that character – that’s really what I thought about.”

I play him the way I see him

That character is the highly sexual artist Dick, who finds himself centre to the fantasies of film-maker Chris, played by the amazing Kathryn Hahn, and her writer husband Sylvère (Griffin Dunne), who have both recently moved to the minimalist art mecca of Marfa, Texas. 

Adapted from Chris Kraus’s 1997 novel of the same name, the series sees Dick unwittingly play a role in the couple’s sex life and inspiring Chris to write a series of graphic love letters to him, all the while losing herself in some erotic daydreaming.

Lambing season

Bacon says the approach revolved around using his body in a sexual yet subtly comedic way. “I play him the way I see him. Sometimes the way we see him is a direct reflection of her fantasy, and while I can’t really play her fantasy, I have to become a tool for the camera and the art department, and the hair and the make-up and the music and the editing to deliver those pieces. 

“I’m thinking specifically of walking down the street with a lamb around my shoulders. That is . . . you know, how else am I going to affect that other than just do it, you know?”

The lamb scene places Bacon and his body at the forefront of the female gaze

The lamb scene sees him walking down the middle of a road, as per Chris’s fantasy, shirtless, wearing low-slung jeans, with a lamb draped around him, which he then seductively shears in slow motion. This is one of the many, many erotic yet bonkers scenes that play out in the series, and it places Bacon and his body at the forefront of the female gaze. 

“My theory about being an actor is that you use yourself and you lose yourself,” he says in a buttery drawl.

“Once you really understand a person, then I can put on his boots and, you know, feel like Dick but I’m also using myself and my experience and the things that are in my heart.

“And I think that Dick is pretty comfortable with his own understanding of himself as a sexual being, you know? I don’t know if he’s very at peace with an understanding of his heart and his art and his future and his, um, love, you know? But I think that his sex, he’s pretty clear on.”

Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne and Bacon in I Love Dick
Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne and Bacon in I Love Dick

Honesty and humour

I Love Dick combines lashings of brutal honesty with squeamish humour, leaving the viewer cringing in recognition. It captures the desperation of a crush and the terrifying lengths that infatuation can drive us to. 

Dick starts off as a silent source of attraction, but then slowly starts to show a hint of heart and warmth

But, like the book, I Love Dick frames the complexities of human relationships and how we define ourselves by gender. Dick starts off as a silent source of attraction, all moody stares, weather-beaten denim and angled cowboy hats, but then slowly starts to show a hint of heart and warmth. Bacon, who has been a TV and film actor since 1978, says this challenges the traditional form of masculinity we normally see on screen.

“We grow up as men being delivered an idea of what manhood is, right? And women grow up with the same thing. In our case, it has less to do with what we look at. You can find some pretty unusual-looking, sort of heroic men in movies, but with women, there’s a very, very standard thing that has to do with shape and size and all of those external things.

“But for us, it’s like, what do you do when you walk into a bar? You fight. What does it mean to be a hero? You can use a gun. There are things that we are constantly, sort of, afforded.”

As Chris reaches a point of sexual freedom, she re-evaluates Dick’s and Sylvère’s masculinity in the wake of a woman’s liberation. 

“These are two very, very different men but I think that they’re both decidedly male characters and decidedly male in the complexity and in the fact that they are struggling still at that age to define for themselves what being a man is,” he says.

  • I Love Dick is available on Amazon Prime Video
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