CATEGORIES Celebrity InterviewsAs all 'X-Men' fans know, 'X-Men: First Class' is going back to the very beginning, before Charles Xavier was known as Professor X and Eric Lensherr became Magneto, with 'Kick-Ass' director Matthew Vaughn at the helm.
Kevin Bacon took some time out of his Golden Globes day to chat with Moviefone about joining the X-Men family. He plays villain Sebastian Shaw, a powerful mutant who's planning to take over the world amidst the backdrop of the swinging '60s and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Bacon teased some great scenes opposite the new Magneto (Michael Fassbender of 'Inglourious Basterds') and his character's cool '60s style, including a private inner sanctum and his own sub.
He also told us how he feels about the 'Footloose' remake and whether we can expect to see him in a cameo.
What can you tell us about your character, Sebastian Shaw, and how he figures into the plot?
You don't see much [of his backstory] in the movie, but he's kind of a self-made man. He lost his father as a young man, made his first million by the time he was 30 and first billion by time he was 40. He's a very powerful billionaire and also, as it turns out, a mutant. He's the leader of the Hellfire Club, which is a nightclub for the rich and extremely powerful. And he has a plot to take over the world, so that's really fun. He's incredibly good at manipulating people and at taking whatever kind of energy or ability they have and using it to his advantage, like if he's talking to a German, he's fluent in German. He's very charming and able to get whatever he wants.
Why did you decide to take on this sort of role?
I was a big fan of 'Kick-Ass' and someone told me I should go read the script and meet with Matthew Vaughn and like that, I was in 'X-Men.' I liked the script, thought it was such a fresh look at the franchise, but also the comic book movies in general and certainly it's a great character. He's definitely the character I was interested in playing.
Is your look changing for the film?
My look is very different from the guy in the comic books. We decided pretty early on that that was not going to translate to film. But there's a certain kind of style to the suits that I wear, but I don't have anything extreme in the makeup department. When you first meet me -- I don't want to spoil it -- but when you first meet me, I look a little different.
Were you an X-Men fan?
Oh yes, definitely. Not so much from the comics, because I didn't read that many as a kid, but I really liked the movie. I liked the notion of being different and the metaphor for judging people by their external qualities and the idea of racism and it plays very heavily into the themes for this movie. And is there the opportunity for people who are different to assimilate or to even relate to other beings that are different from them? In our realm of the world, we have humans, various versions of that and animals and plants and nature and they're introducing another element to that and I just think that's kind of cool.
Who's your favorite X-Men character?
I always thought that it was great that you had Professor X in his wheelchair. That's really fascinating -- right from the beginning to have a lead character bound to a wheelchair is super interesting and Patrick Stewart was great in the role.
Are you signed on to more than one film?
I am, but whether or not I end up in any more remains to be seen.
Matthew Vaughn was planning a big action scene in a rotating room, but scrapped it after he saw 'Inception,' and said he needed to go bigger. How has he topped it?
I'm trying to think what scene that was. I remember hearing something about that, but I'm not sure if that was online or actually from Matthew. But we do have a really, really super cool scene in a hall of mirrors and that's going to be really spectacular.
What's the craziest-looking mutant or mutant power that will get audiences talking?
That's hard to say because when you do a movie like this, so much of this stuff is happening in post. There were some practical things, like it's no secret that Magneto has the power to move and bend metal and the way that's handled right from the first scene in the movie is going to be really cool. It's something we haven't seen in any other movie so far.
The movie is set in the '60s: Is Vaughn going for a swinging '60s, James Bond look?
There is an element of that, certainly to my character. I've got some pretty nice pads and I'm kind of slick in that way. I don't think it's visually, in terms of camera moves, it's not trying to recreate that. But it has an element of that. The set design is fantastic. I've only seen the sets that I've been on and they are really interesting and very '60s modern and super cool, and beautiful. I have one set that's kind of like an inner sanctum and then I also have a submarine; the inside of the sub has elements of my other set. I have my own set of style and wanted to translate it over to my board room and stuff. It's great. I love the way it looks.
Since descriptions of the movie's setting have mentioned JFK, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, are there any cool bits of real history that are used in the story?
The backdrop is the Cuban Missile Crisis, so it's a little earlier than the Civil Rights era. I don't think JFK is a character in the movie, but the idea of the possibility of thermonuclear war in our own backyard is there.
But there is an element of the racial tension of the times (which inspired Stan Lee in the first place)?
Yes, definitely. And also the fallout from the Holocaust is still there, which you'll remember is in the first film.
What's the coolest part of the film?
That's hard for me to say, not having seen the movie. But I think the youth of the movie, that is really exciting. You've got Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Zoë Kravitz (Angel) and James McAvoy (Professor Xavier) and all these young actors who are about to explode. When you see them become what we know of as the X-Men, to me, that's really cool. The visual stuff, I can't say, until I've seen the effects. But from a plot standpoint, watching the creation of that kind of elite squad and yet they're all in this college dorm room kind of atmosphere, where there's romances and drunken parties and people become friends and then they have a falling out. I think all that stuff is going to be really cool. All of these movies deliver something other than just another airplane blowing up because there's interesting stuff going on between the characters.
Why should X-Men fans who are worried about a Wolverine-less X-Men movie stop worrying?
I didn't know that X-Men fans were worrying about that.
So X-Men fans will be completely entertained, even without Wolverine?
What was the most fun part of playing this character?
I have a really newfound appreciation for those actors, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr., and Hugh Jackman, that are able to work within this kind of genre with all the green screen and create great, memorable performances. It's very difficult; for me the most fun is always connecting on a scene and working with another actor to try to make that scene work. There was a scene near the end of the film between me and Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and the scene was okay, but I don't think either one of us was figuring it out. So Matthew let us spend a weekend up at his house and really figured it out from an acting standpoint, what this moment really means between these two. And that's the fun stuff. Hanging from a crane is fun too, but not as fun as actually connecting with another actor.
What are your thoughts on the 'Footloose' remake? Will you be doing a cameo?
I know the director and I think he's a really good choice. I've read the script and they've got a really good take on it, so we'll see. I wish them the best. They did talk to me about doing a cameo, but I'm not going to.
Are you planning on seeing the movie?
Oh, hell yes. You know, they tracked down my original screen test, and they're thinking about putting it on as an DVD extra. It's a strange thing for me, much weirder than seeing the movie. I don't watch the movies I make, so I haven't seen 'Footloose' since it came out. You see this young, hungry actor, it's pretty fun. I was the only one they screen tested. It was an attempt by the director and producer to talk the head of the studio into hiring me because they didn't want me.