Kathryn Hahn Gets One Degree Closer to Kevin Bacon
A little over a year ago, Kevin Bacon lifted our spirits in the service of good, with his #IStayHomeFor social media campaign. “We’re all connected by various degrees (Trust me, I know!)” he told his 1.5 million Instagram followers, nodding at the old joke that he’s connected by just six degrees from every person on the planet. After that, Bacon went on to have a surreal pandemic year, just like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, however, he spent it not only navigating new protocols and complicated work restrictions, but delving deep into the damaged mind of a corrupt, drug-addled FBI agent in Showtime’s City on a Hill, which just launched its second season. Here to bring Bacon one degree closer is Kathryn Hahn, his costar in the steamy, subversive Amazon series I Love Dick. After charming audiences with her witchy wiles on the Marvel series WandaVision, Hahn asked Bacon about his own superpowers, which include embracing his inner theater kid, using his platform wisely, and having one of the most wide-ranging IMDb pages out there. —EVELINE CHAO
KEVIN BACON: Hey, Kathryn. Thank you for doing this.
KATHRYN HAHN: It’s my pleasure. I have so many questions to ask you. I felt like I was biting my tongue the entirety of the time we were working together, so this is now my opportunity.
BACON: I don’t remember you biting your tongue.
HAHN: [Laughs] I guess I did not. Congratulations on season two, Kevin Bacon.
BACON: Thank you. I just binged WandaVision this weekend. I finished literally 15 minutes ago, and you’re absolutely fantastic, remarkable, hilarious, terrifying, and perfect.
HAHN: Oh my god. Definitely a different genre than our last outing together.
BACON: One for the meal, one for the reel.
HAHN: Can you tell me about what we’re looking forward to on City on a Hill for season two, which I know is also starring Jill Hennessy, who’s somebody I worked with before?
BACON: Jill plays my wife. She’s fantastic. It’s ’90s crime in Boston, loosely based on the era of Whitey Bulger, which I was familiar with because I’d done a movie about that time [2015’s Black Mass, directed by Scott Cooper]. The FBI was extremely corrupt during that point, and I’m an extremely corrupt character.
HAHN: My favorite Bacon character.
BACON: Yeah, Jackie Rohr is not a good man. One of the very first things that happens in the pilot is that I’m out with a young woman and she ODs on coke, and I just dump her in front of this hospital and drive away. So everything is catching up with me. They’re threatening to fire me. My whole world is crumbling, and once again, I face off with Decourcy Ward, this very young, idealistic assistant district attorney played by Aldis Hodge. There are a lot of twists and turns. There’s also a lot of stuff about race this year. There’s always stuff about race in our show, but this year, it’s especially relevant, because it has a lot to do with the relationship between cops and the Black community.
HAHN: You dropped off a woman at the hospital after she had OD’d on coke? Classy.
BACON: Yeah, I’m screaming down the road, I’m smoking, I’m drinking out of a flask, and I’m snorting coke off of my hand. I hand the coke to her and she does too much. And so I call on my friend that works at a hospital, and I say, “I’m dropping something off,” and—
HAHN: You slow down to 35, of course.
BACON: [Laughs] Yeah, no. This guy, he’s the stuff that you scrape from underneath a boat.
HAHN: Those are the most juicy roles to see you in, the morally compromised ones. Because we know you to be such a good and decent egg. I’m telling you, The Woodsman is still one of my favorite roles of yours. You’ve been consistently creating such unbelievable work for so long, Kevin Bacon.
BACON: Thank you for saying that. How are you and your husband doing?
HAHN: He’s good. I mean, we’re going batshit crazy. It’s up and down. But we’re doing okay.
BACON: Was WandaVision done before the pandemic?
HAHN: We basically just had the finale to shoot during the pandemic. We had a month-and-a-half to shoot. Did you shoot some of yours during it?
BACON: We did two episodes, and I directed the first one, and then we shut down. I was shooting in New York, and Kyra [Sedgwick, Bacon’s wife] and my kids were out in L.A., and I was like, “I’ve got to get out there.” And I bailed, just packed up and the next day flew out to California. And then it was probably another four or five months before we went back to work. I’ve lost track of time, as we all have. When we went back, we had six more episodes to do. It was a scheduling nightmare, but I was very proud that we were able to do it. Not only were people responsible on the set, but they were also responsible when they would go home for the weekend. We only shut down once, when a background performer came in and tested positive. Nobody got sick. I mean, boy, if we could do that as a nation, a lot more people would’ve survived.
HAHN: I hear you.
BACON: But I was thinking about I Love Dick, because getting the opportunity to work with you on something so strange and creatively challenging was a highlight of my career. As you know, we had great scripts that all got thrown out, and then we did a lot of just living in front of the camera and improvising. That’s not really in my wheelhouse, you know? And I felt extremely well-supported by you in that capacity. I loved doing that show.
HAHN: Oh, Kevin, I would say the same. We all jumped off a cliff together with that one. That was the most thrilling and most terrifying and most maddening experience. I felt in really good hands when we were in scenes together. I just knew looking into your eyeballs, that you had me, and I had you. That was thrilling, thrilling, thrilling.
BACON: I have to tell you, I scratch my head to this day about what the fuck happened; why we didn’t get another season? We went to Sundance, as you remember, and the response at Sundance was phenomenal. It was like presenting the coolest indie that just happened to be a television series. And then it was gone. And the weirdest thing was, at the end, I got a Golden Globe nomination, and there I was after having a show canceled, sitting at the Golden Globes with the executives at the table.
HAHN: Yeah, I’m with you. That all being said, I do think there was something special about how they wrapped it up as one thing, as its own bird.
BACON: I agree.
HAHN: Well, thinking of your range, and what turns you on as a creative, where you want to go next? How do you decide where your light is?
BACON: That’s a good question. It changes over time. But it always comes back to character. I’d love to say I’ve got a great career plan, and that I say, “Okay, this is the thing that needs to be out there.” But it’s really just wanting to wear a new hat for a little while.
HAHN: I never understand people that have a plan. I always just say it’s kind of whatever; it reveals itself at every step.
BACON: I’m always impressed when somebody has a five-year plan. It blows my mind. How did the Wanda thing happen?
HAHN: Same thing. I had no idea that was going to be in my future. I just went in for a general, then a few days later, they called with that specific gig. I just thought, “Ah, that’d be fun.” Who woulda thunk it?
BACON: And did you know where it was going? Because it’s so cool where that goes.
HAHN: Yeah. I mean, I heard “witch,” so it was like, “Okay!” It’s been a year now since you started the #IStayHomeFor campaign. I have no social media, but I was so moved that you fricking used your amazing powers for good, Kevin Bacon. That campaign was so huge, so early on. It really caught on.
BACON: Yeah, it did. It was a simple idea. I’ve had sixdegrees.org since “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” came around. I was like, “Fuck, this is never gonna go away.” So after many years of it, I said, “Let me see if I can turn it into something that has more of a philanthropic element.”
HAHN: It’s so goddamn charming, I can’t stand it. It’s just so fucking awesome you did it like that.
BACON: Well, I was inspired by Paul Newman, and by the tomato sauce and popcorn and all that. I had a moment, when I was about 12 to 15, when I was very politically and socially active. When I was younger, I was at an overnight camp and we did this thing where we were supposed to give up meals or work in the garden and stuff, as a camp community, to raise funds for different charities. And then, we would all stand up in front of the camp and say what cause we wanted the money to go to, and the campers would vote, and the money that the camp raised for that year would go to that thing. So every year we would do like, Save the Redwoods and UNICEF. I did the Black Panthers and actually won.
HAHN: Kevin, that’s so rad.
BACON: Yeah. The camp said we couldn’t do it. I got into a war with the cabin administration and said, “You have to do this. This is what you said. Everyone voted.” The compromise I finally had to make was that the money was divided between all of the three or four funds that campers had made presentations for. So, it’s possible that around 1972 or something, the Black Panthers received a check from Camp Treetops.
HAHN: That is amazing.
BACON: It was probably $12.57. Now, that being said, by the time I became an actor, all that shit was just out the window, because I was all about me. It was 1976, and I was moving to New York, and it was fucking disco, and ambition and self-involvement, and hunger to succeed and to maybe become a star. So at some point in my life, after a series of life and family events, I just stopped and went, “Maybe I need to get back to looking outside of myself and to the rest of the world.” Sometimes I feel conflicted about it, because I sometimes think that celebrities and actors doing stuff of a political nature becomes fodder for the opposition. But then I’m like, “Fuck it, I’m too upset about this. I have to open up my mouth and do what I can.“ I don’t know if you ever feel that way.
HAHN: Well, I have strong, strong, strong feelings, but I have no social media.
BACON: Was that a conscious thing, to do no social media? I know you never did it.
HAHN: Yeah. I mean, it started off as laziness, and then it became a conscious thing. I know there are good things about social media, but… I don’t know, the older I get, the more I worry about it.
BACON: Well, I do, too. There are times when I think to myself, “Boy, it must be so nice to not have to think about that in the course of your day.“
HAHN: But I do think that you’ve been using your superpower for good. And I love the fact that you used the six degrees thing, something that was made up so lovingly about you, because in our history of art and film, you’ve touched everything. Kevin, I had two cassettes, one of which was Footloose, that I listened to over and over and over and over and over. I made up routines, like detailed routines, and I was not that young.
BACON: Oh my god. I so wish so those routines were documented.
HAHN: I’m sure it’s somewhere in my muscle memory. I could probably pull it out.
BACON: Oh my god, that would be amazing. That would have been season four of I Love Dick. Although, we did kind of dance together, didn’t we?
HAHN: Yeah, we did.
BACON: Oh my god, do you remember the time when we were in rehearsal, and we went through the entire season silently?
HAHN: Yes. We had to silently dance. We went through the whole season.
BACON: I would come back from work and say, “Honey, I’m back in fucking acting school. I can’t do this. I can’t fucking take it. I’m too old for theater games.” And Kyra would be like, “Just hang in there, leave yourself open. You’re not too old for anything.” And she was right.
HAHN: You were so game. I was like, “God, look at Kevin Bacon just doing it.” We were all without socks on, moving around. And Kevin’s just passing the clap. Which is an acting exercise game, guys. I mean, to the readers. Just want to make sure that’s clear.
BACON: Yeah, you were passing the clap.
HAHN: Just want to make sure everyone knows we weren’t really passing the clap.
BACON: What an experience.
HAHN: Do you have anything else happening in the future?
BACON: I’m going to shoot a movie that Kyra’s directing called Space Oddity.
HAHN: Oh, goddammit, that’s awesome.
BACON: Yeah. She offered me a role. So I’m sleeping with the director.
HAHN: Good. I’m glad you can just say that out loud.
BACON: It’s going to be sometime this summer. I also did an indie movie called One Way. I felt like I needed to shake off the guy I had just done, Jackie. He’s so specific, and so deeply, deeply damaged. The combination of that, with what we were all going through, with the pandemic… it’s funny, some people would go and sit on a beach or something like that. That’s not really my thing, but to go and step into another role was like a great cleansing of this other thing. I know it sounds strange.
HAHN: I love that that was your palate cleanser. What’s wrong with us?
BACON: I know. It’s crazy. I’m ready for a comedy.
Photography Assistant: Tim O’Connell
Grooming by Kat Drazen