- - Thursday, May 11, 2017

After three seasons on Fox’s violent, psychological thriller “The Following,” Kevin Bacon was ready for a change. Thankfully, lighter fare came his way via Amazon’s “I Love Dick,” an unusual new series by “Transparent” creator/executive producer Jill Soloway, which premieres Friday on the online platform.

In the show based on the fiction-meets-memoir by feminist artist Chris Kraus, Mr. Bacon plays Dick, a renowned art professor at an eclectic art community in Texas who has a profound effect on a struggling married couple named Chris and Sylvere, played by Kathryn Hahn and Griffin Dunne, respectively.

The Washington Times talked exclusively with the veteran actor about this quirky psycho-sexual comedy.

Question: How is this different from your previous dark role on “The Following”?

Answer: Aside from the running and gunning, and the emotional aspects, it’s one of the hardest gigs you can do in entertainment. “Dick” was not without its challenges, but the idea of doing a half-hour comedy that is based on art, sex and love was really refreshing.

Q: Why do you think your character has such an impact on this couple?

A: He is fulfilling a need on something that has been missing. [The couple is] at an impasse: [Chris] is struggling to find herself as an artist, and [Sylvere] is at a crossroads in his life, just like Dick is. They are looking at their own mortality, lack of power, questioning their creations and their life’s work.

Q: What does it take to reconnect with your passion?

A: You have to trust that you still have something to offer as time rolls along. And I think that you have to be able to turn your back on bitterness and be accepting of the fact that, at any age, there are going to be things in your life you are going to be fearful of. You just have to confront and plow through them.

And I think that’s what is going on with Dick: He is afraid of making new art, because he is afraid it’s not going to be good. He wonders if maybe he never was good. He is afraid of a real, open relationship with a woman. And that his best days are behind him. He has to deal with those fears.

Q: Who does desire mean to you?

A: Desire is part of what keeps us alive, what feeds our fire, like fuel. Being desirous of art, money, parenthood, sex — whatever these things are, that’s what drives you.

Q: Besides the series having some very funny moments, you are funny in real life too. That Britney Spears Apple music ad in the U.K. was loved by fans. How do you approach humor?

A: I can’t say that I approach comedy any differently than I do drama. I am not one of those people who says, “I know how to make this line funny.” I feel like I have to really know who my guy is intimately, and I have to commit to whatever the situation is, just like I would with anything dramatic.

I want to listen to the other actors I am with and hear them, and be as real as possible. Because “real” is often the funniest thing. In the case of “Dick,” I am surrounded — Jill (Soloway) is funny as hell, and Kathryn [Hahn] and Griffin [Dunne] are comic geniuses. They took me along for the ride.

Q: There’s that running joke of “six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon,” i.e., how people are connected to you in Hollywood. Because you and Griffin were both so big in the ‘80s with “Footloose” and “After Hours,” how is it that you two have never worked together before?

A: It’s so crazy that we haven’t. We have known each other, not really well, but our paths have crossed each other in interesting, parallel ways. My first agent passed away recently [and at] dinner with Griffin, I asked him if he knew him. And it turned out, he was Griffin’s first agent too.

Sometimes we have been up for the same parts. We both did New York theater at the same time. It’s kind of amazing that we hadn’t worked together.

I think he fits the part perfectly and watching he and Kathryn is one of the great joys in television.

Q: In addition to starring, you are also co-executive producing. What is that like for you?

A: To me, it’s a level of commitment to the future of the overall show as opposed to just being in a role. I really believe in it. I really want to see it continue. I am someone that if I feel that way about something, I don’t want to just say my lines and go home. I want to know and feel that every aspect of this is working at the best it possibly can.

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